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August 27, 1996

Stefan Edberg


Q. Stefan, how does a Wimbledon champion feel when he loses in the first round of the US Open?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, I've done it myself. You don't feel very well at all. That happened to me in '90, I think.

Q. We can't hear down here.

STEFAN EDBERG: I should get closer. (LAUGHTER) I think what happened in today's match here, I really got off to a good start. I broke him first game. I felt very relaxed being out there. All I really tried to do today was make a lot of first serves and attack his backhand, get into the net, hopefully make enough returns to get a chance to break him once in a while. There's no question about it that Richard was very much off his game today. I took advantage of that. He went pretty quick out there, quicker than I expected.

Q. Now that you said how a Wimbledon champion feels losing the first round, can you say how a retiring player feels about winning the first round of his last Grand Slam?

STEFAN EDBERG: It's a win that I can be proud of. It's never easy to beat the Wimbledon champion. It is the last Grand Slam that I'm playing here. Each match is a great win, but obviously beating Richard means more than beating a lot of the other players. From now on, I just have to take one match at a time. I got Karbacher coming up next round. I really have to work for that one because he's a tough competitor, playing very well at the moment. I have to look forward as well. What I'm really aiming to do here this week is hopefully get into the first and second week and be around.

Q. Stefan, we know you're a very private person. Can you share with us some of the emotions you're feeling coming into your final Grand Slam of the year.

STEFAN EDBERG: At the moment I'm actually feeling very, very calm about the whole thing. I had a long summer here. This is the last tournament I'm playing here in America. I really want to keep myself as relaxed as possible because I think that's going to win more matches than being a little bit uptight and wanting too much. When I went out there today, I didn't really expect that much from myself, just go out there and do your thing and see where that will take you. Obviously it's a great feeling being back here and playing on this stadium because I have so many memories from that court. I probably have played the best match of my life on that court when I beat Courier in '91 in the final. It's a special court. I had a lot of support today, which is always a great help. I'm feeling very good being here in New York. Much better than for a long time.

Q. Stefan, without being immodest, when do you think you last played as well?

STEFAN EDBERG: Actually in the last couple of months, last couple of months, I've played some matches probably as well as today. I wouldn't say I played extremely well today, but I played very solid. I would say that Richard made most of the mistakes. He made very few returns, and that made it so much easier for me serving and volleying because I got a lot of free points. It's probably the best I've played for a month and a half, I would say.

Q. How has maturity affected your approach to competition, compared to your first -

STEFAN EDBERG: I think it's far easier being here now than it was the first time when I came around here. I found this place being very, very tricky to come to, with all the noise and all the airplanes, all the things that were going around this event. I think over the years you're mentally much more prepared now, you know what's going to be out there. You know there's going to be a lot of changes in weather. I feel good.

Q. Stefan, can you recall a particular moment when it started to feel pretty good to come here, when those initial feelings changed?

STEFAN EDBERG: Obviously I've had some good years back in '86, '87, semifinal here. I had a few tough years then. I think I made a change in '91, going out to Long Island, staying there. That year I won it for the first time. Always when you won at the place, the whole place just changes, no question about it. Since then, I've enjoyed every year coming here. It's been one of the very special places to come to.

Q. What things do you hear from the crowd talking to you as you play out there?

STEFAN EDBERG: Today I really concentrated on focusing on the court. You sort of hear it in the background. Obviously I hear all the support when it gets tight, when you won the points. Maybe you hear some shouting here and there. Apart from that, if you concentrate, it's sort of like background music. That's how it should be. You shouldn't really take notice what they scream out there. Obviously knowing the language of English, you can understand a few things they shout out. It's mostly support.

Q. Is there any particular thing that you've heard in the last few months from crowds who may be seeing you from the last time that you particularly remember?

STEFAN EDBERG: I would say -- it's all positive things. "Come on. This is your last year." You hear things like that. "You can do it. Show what you can do out there." Small little things like that.

Q. As you play your last season and you come up against players who according to the rankings are supposed to beat you at this stage, what do you call upon in your experience? We asked other players to describe what they thought about you as a player in the last Grand Slam. What they were coming up with was "a champion." What do you call upon to beat guys that you're really not supposed to beat?

STEFAN EDBERG: We have seedings out there, we have rankings. That's based on 12 months. I know as well as you do when we're playing Grand Slams, we're going to see upsets. Some years you see more than usual, some years there is no upsets at all. I know if I'm playing good tennis, I can still beat a lot of the guys out there. I believe that I could beat Richard today. I'm sure he wasn't too happy about playing me in the first round, but that's the way tennis is. It's unpredictable at times. That makes it special, I would say. With the record I have over the last 12 months, I didn't deserve the seed at all.

Q. In your mind, was this an upset.

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, if you look at paper, yes. It's a little upset, I would say. Not a huge one, no.

Q. Your single greatest moment here at the Open.

STEFAN EDBERG: Obviously the best match that I've played in '91. I think the most special year was '92, the way that I won it, being down all the time and playing all that amount of tennis, all these five setters. That's probably tennis-wise my biggest achievement of my career. That's a vintage year.

Q. Stefan, what do you think according to new way of seeding here at the US Open, not according to the ranks?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, there's been a lot of talk. It's very unfortunate what has happened here. I feel bad about it. I'm sure they feel bad about it. They did something very wrong in the beginning. They had a redraw. They did that right. If you look at the USTA, they have the right to do their own seedings, according to the rules. They did it. It's not that I support it, but I think they did a pretty lousy job, I have to say that. I think we need to look at this tournament as an example and really try to put things for the future. That's really important because I think we all should forget about it now for two weeks to come here and enjoy the US Open as it is. After that, it's just time to do some thinking and putting things right.

Q. What's the most difficult thing about retiring for you.

STEFAN EDBERG: It's not an easy thing, but I think knowing that you're going to retire one day and knowing when you're going to retire, I think that makes it easier. I don't really want to hang around playing tennis out there if I can't perform the way that I want to perform. I haven't performed over the last year and a half. I feel if I want to be out there and play, I want to be in the Top 10 and really have a chance of winning a Grand Slam. Those years are pretty much over next year. Once you go past 30, 31, 32, the chances of your winning a Grand Slam is so little. I've been on the Tour for many, many years. It's time for me to go now before it's too late.

Q. In my country, you are very well thought of. How would you like to be remembered by your fans?

STEFAN EDBERG: I want to be remembered - I've said it many times - as a champion. As a sportsman. It's up for other people to judge what I've done for tennis. Hopefully I've done a lot of good things.

Q. Was there a point in this season somewhere around Rome, perhaps, where you were very dissatisfied with the results and were prepared to say to yourself, "I cannot retire playing this poorly, I have to somehow redouble my efforts and go out playing much better than this"?

STEFAN EDBERG: Really, the main reason to retire was giving myself a chance to have a good last year. I did struggle a lot in the beginning of the year for a reason I really don't know, probably maybe with some pressure being out there, not winning any matches, losing a lot of close matches. I think things changed dramatically in Rome where finally I bet a Top 10 player by beating Goran. I started playing some good tennis. That was a relief for me because I don't know how much longer I could have gone on playing lousy tennis. Maybe I would have called it off earlier than playing the full year. Since the last couple of months, I really enjoyed things and I am playing better tennis. Much more fun being around here. So Rome was really a turning point.

Q. Were you angry with yourself at that point?

STEFAN EDBERG: I wasn't angry, I was just disappointed at the results that didn't come. I put some work in. I was playing very well in practice, but couldn't perform on match days. That has changed where at the moment I may not be playing so well in practice, but at least I lift my game for the matches, and that's the way it should be.

Q. Stefan, if you win the US Open, will you change your mind about retirement?

STEFAN EDBERG: No, I will not. I'm so sorry.

Q. Can you win here?

STEFAN EDBERG: Being realistic, there is a very little chance. As long as I see that chance, I will go out there and do what I can.

Q. Do you plan on playing the Senior Tour?

STEFAN EDBERG: As of now, you need to give me some time to think about it. Still five years away. I haven't got a clue, to tell you the truth, what I will do when 35 comes around.

Q. After this tournament, how many tournaments will you play?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, four to five tournaments, I'm planning on playing.

Q. After the US Open?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes. That will be pretty good.

Q. Do you know where the last one will be?

STEFAN EDBERG: According to the schedule, Stockholm will be a nice way to end it.

Q. Did you play any doubles after that?

STEFAN EDBERG: I'm sure I will play doubles indoors. During the indoor season, I don't have any chances to practice. Sometimes I play doubles.

Q. Stefan, are there moments today maybe with a good volley or a nice passing shot where the game feels maybe for a second like it's '91 or '92 again?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yeah. I still have my days where I feel great out there physically, where I really feel I'm doing the right things. There are days when it's - for one reason or another - not there. You don't understand why, and that's really the big problem. I can perform for days and days, and someday just have a bad day. When you have a bad day in tennis, you're out of the competition. That is what has been happening over the last period of time. Really don't know why, it just happens. I think it's pretty normal.

Q. After you beat Chang in Paris, you lost to Rosset. Was that because you had just had a bad day or because you put yourself under pressure after your win?

STEFAN EDBERG: I think it was a mixture of everything. Obviously I was on a high beating Chang. I did have a little bit of a letdown, which you normally wouldn't have after a big win like that. I caught Rosset on a very, very good day where he was playing too well for me. I just fell apart in that match and he ran over me. It was a pity.

Q. Are you afraid that would happen again against Karbacher?

STEFAN EDBERG: Not really. This is different because, again, Chang, there were a lot more emotions in that match, a tougher match; I had to work harder. It was a different surface on clay where you really have to work for the points. Here on hardcourt you can get away a little bit easier. I do not expect that.

Q. Stefan, in the Olympic Games, there were some sports like track and field and basketball where many athletes over the age of 30 excel very much. Why isn't it happening in tennis?

STEFAN EDBERG: That's a good question. I think comparing to basketball, you have four other guys around you which can help you, that makes a huge difference. (Laughter) You know, track and field, you have one or two days. In tennis you're looking at playing five times in a week, sometimes under very hot conditions. The recovery time is less when you're younger. I think that's one of the reasons in tennis, you have to be out there for a long period of time, too. That's probably one of the reasons.

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