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March 22, 1996

Stefan Edberg


JOE LYNCH: Stefan Edberg is into the second round with career match win number 765. First question for Stefan.

Q. Are you deliberately doing this, Stefan, in your last round of matches, losing first sets so that the crowd -- you want the sympathy --

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, wishful thinking. Don't give anything away today. Maybe I should have won the first set. I definitely had the chances; missed a lot of volleys today, but things got a little bit better and once I got into the second, third set, I felt like I was hitting the ball a bit better, so it wasn't so bad to play three sets today because it wasn't very warm out there and it is sometimes good to get a little bit of court time before playing tomorrow.

Q. Why do you think this title has eluded you over the years, the wind or--

STEFAN EDBERG: This is a trickier place. I think this place, I mean, we have really seen some changes in the last couple years. I think the stadium is fantastic here. I think the facilities are as good as anywhere else, but we can't do anything about it, about the wind, that is really the tricky part, I feel, playing here in Key Biscayne because today was pretty good. There wasn't too much wind, but there is always a little wind here. Sometimes you have your windy days; it doesn't make it easier. I think I'd rather play with a little bit less wind. Plus, you know, there are tournaments where you play well; there are tournaments where you don't have good results. It has been a little bit up and down here. I've had some good years and I've had some bad years.

Q. As you go through this year, as you go to each tournament for the last time, do you remember the best things; the worse things that have happened there?

STEFAN EDBERG: I think there are going to be some memories throughout the year. There are some places where you feel it is more special than other places where you, perhaps, have done well in the past, where you've been on that center court where you've won before. Those memories are going to be there. So maybe think back to not so good memories, I tend to look at the positive side, if I can. There are going tomorrow -- I like playing at Wimbledon, for the last time it is going to be very special, I believe, and playing my last tournament, that is going to be something very special, too.

Q. Stefan, on Martina's sort of farewell tour she said the range of emotion was enormous all year. Do you find yourself sort of becoming even overwhelmed yourself?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, a little bit because it's been a lot of focused around me and going to different tournaments, obviously, there was a lot of focus down in Australia since I did make the announcements towards the end of last year, but overall, it's been very positive because people have responded well. I've had a lot of positive things that people have said to me around tournaments. It is always going to be a little focus around me which I tend not to like too much, but I am doing it this year in order to give something back to the fans; give some interest to the tournaments and give a little interest to the foundation that I've set up back in Sweden, so, you know, I am trying to do a few different things for this Tour; for everybody.

Q. Are you having any regrets about announcing your retirement in advance?

STEFAN EDBERG: No, not really. For a long period of time, I had to -- I had the question "when are you going to retire;" then I thought I would kill it off by saying I am going to retire, but since now, you get the question "why are you retiring," so you can't really win whatever you do, but it's -- I mean, I felt that was the best way for me to do it. I think it was important to make the decision for myself to say what I am doing. You sort of have to start to plan ahead. There are lots of time, lots of things to do in life.

Q. Why did you retire, is it the fact -- did you lose any love of the game?

STEFAN EDBERG: No, I think I've started losing matches. I think I've been on such a long streak playing such good tennis for a long period of time and I feel I am running a little bit -- running out of steam a little bit and I think physically I am still pretty strong, but it is more like a mental thing because you really need to be out there and you need to be so hungry every time you go out there and play. If you sort of start losing that, then it is getting a lot tougher, so I don't want to keep playing for years and years and not produce the results that I really would like to achieve, so it works both ways because the results haven't really been great. It was pretty terrible, I thought, last year. It's been tough this year, even if I am hitting the ball fairly good now, so I am sort of moving ahead and playing better now than I have for some time.

Q. If you won Wimbledon or something or the U.S. Open, would you reconsider? A lot of people change their minds.

STEFAN EDBERG: No, I wouldn't. That would be so much nicer to play the last year and you win a slam; that would make it even better, so it's nothing that I would change because I feel I made a commitment; I made the decision, so, that's it.

Q. Stefan, serving for the first set having a set point, okay, missing a volley, was that one of those moments where you said, you know, am I making the right decision here?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes. There have been times when I played short shots that I couldn't dream of missing before. Once you come to this stage, even if you shouldn't accept it, you just have to accept you are going to miss a few shots, which maybe I wouldn't have done a few years ago. I still can play very, very well on my good days, but unfortunately, you are going to have some bad days, too, and today was -- I started off fine, there was no problem, but I got myself into trouble by losing the rhythm of my serve and certainly I made volleys which looks very, very easy and which they were, you know, I lost the range a little bit. I took hold of myself and kept doing the same things and then, you know, I came out well in the end.

Q. How much of the tour do you think you will continue to appear from time to time, not playing, but at tournaments?

STEFAN EDBERG: I don't think I will play on the ATP Tour at all in the future because really putting too much pressure on yourself. What I could consider doing is playing some sort of exhibition tournament, if I did feel like it, or playing some charity matches, where you just go and play a match just for enjoyment and to be there with the crowd again. That I can think about that I will do.

Q. Can you see yourself going back to tournaments purely just to watch, something you've probably never done?

STEFAN EDBERG: No, I haven't really. Well, if I had to pick a place, I would probably go back and watch at Wimbledon. I probably will do that in the future. I am pretty sure about that. I think just start off with -- I don't think you want to be around tennis for a few months, you sort of just want to be away from it; then later on I think you sort of -- it would be nice to be in touch with tennis.

Q. If you had to choose one way in which you wanted people to remember you when they thought of Stefan Edberg, what would it be?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, as a champion, as a sportsman and as a nice guy. That's it.

Q. That's pretty fair.

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, that's pretty fair. That's good enough for me.

Q. Have you gotten any bad response after your announcement at all?

STEFAN EDBERG: No, not really. You could be the first one if you want to.

Q. No, no, not really. It has actually been very good. I like to quote Mats, we had him some hours before, he said concerning you, "I think Stefan is treating himself and everybody else better than if he would have quit just like going out. I am not sure if he is treating himself that fairly by doing that."

STEFAN EDBERG: There might be some truth in that. That is probably the right thing.

Q. Stefan, how about doubles? You won the Australian this year. I know you've talked about the competitive level and the mental focus, I mean, I see your game as being so well suited to continuing to play high level doubles. If it doesn't take quite the commitment, would you consider if you continue to have success this year with Korda, or whoever you play with, you may appear in doubles tournaments?

STEFAN EDBERG: No. That's the answer. No, I couldn't do that. That wouldn't be -- no, if I want to compete, I want to play singles. That is really the focus. Doubles was very important to me in the beginning. It has become a little bit less important. It is really, really hard to play singles and doubles, which I would love to do because it really helps my game. I just enjoy playing doubles, I really do. It was fun playing Australia.

Q. Are you going to continue playing with Korda?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, we will definitely play at the French Open. There is no reason why we shouldn't. We will be playing on the clay a little bit, too. We will see what we can do at the French.

Q. If you were to win French doubles as well, might you consider playing the other Wimbledon doubles or have you decided that?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, I think I would do that, yes.

Q. So is it likely you might play all four grand slams doubles this year?

STEFAN EDBERG: It depends on what happens in the French. If we happen to not do too good in the French then I don't think I will play doubles at Wimbledon. If we were playing doubles, best of three sets from the beginning, I would consider it, but playing best of five, it is not really worth it.

Q. Five years from now when you are an old man, can you see --

STEFAN EDBERG: Yeah, right.

Q. -- can you see playing with McEnroe and Connors on that old circuit?

STEFAN EDBERG: People have asked me that question. It's possible. "Probably not" is my answer today, but, you know, a lot of things can happen in five years time. That is something that you might love to do; something you would hate to do as of now. I will just leave my options open. They seem to have a good time playing.

Q. Stefan, if you hit a bad patch through at some point during this year when you were getting, say, beaten in a lot of first round tournaments, would you consider retiring early?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, I've said that twice. I think I can go whenever I want to. I'd like to complete the year. That would be the ideal thing, you know, I have to take it as it comes, too, and see what happens; see how you feel about things, how you play, so --

Q. When is your last tournament?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, it would be Stockholm Open sort of the last one.

Q. Have you ever had to work with Boris about your decision because he was your special contender all the years?

STEFAN EDBERG: We spoke a little bit in Doha because we were there together to do things for television, and he did mention it, probably not the way he would like to do it, and he probably would do it in some other way. That's what he said.

Q. Did he say something like he will miss you?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, both yes and no, perhaps, I think that's what he said, both yes and no.

Q. Stefan, you had a rough act to follow, the Borgs, Wilanders. Do you feel you left your own legacy- obviously, you did - what do you think about the legacy you feel you are leaving?

STEFAN EDBERG: Sweden has been so lucky to have three number ones in a short period of time and I am just happy to be one of those. I think we are all pretty much the same, the way we are on the court, the way we behave, but it is -- I play different than like most of the others. I play my game and that's different, I think.

Q. What is your projection for Thomas Enqvist?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, after last year he definitely has a chance here. He plays some great tennis. It is going to be tougher year this year, but if he can have another good year, the potential is there for him to definitely move up to the top five. He doesn't have the greatest stats of the year. The year is not finished. His future looks very bright. I think he needs to start winning a little bit soon, I think, long into tournaments.

Q. What was your best moment in the career; was it first Wimbledon?

STEFAN EDBERG: If I had to pick one, I think winning the Wimbledon first time is something which you would remember, if you really had to pick one, which is difficult because there are so many great memories.

Q. Funny you should put yourself in the same breath with Mats and Bjorn at this stage, both players retired and attempted comebacks?

STEFAN EDBERG: I won't do that. I do a few things differently.

Q. I wonder if that is one of the reasons why you are so adamant in your decision?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, I mean, Tony and I have spoken about it. I think we both are of the same opinion. You do what you can under a certain period of time, do the best you can because there really is no point taking a break like, you know, taking six months, a year off because chances of you coming back to where you were before is pretty much zero. That I know because nobody has really done it. I think it is better to just keep on playing. Once you sort of come to the stage where you feel you had enough, just cut it off. That's been my philosophy about the game because I think both Mats and Borg, again, they started early, maybe they quit a little too early. I know they both had a rough time like Mats had such a great year in '88, he disappeared, didn't play very well, which is tough. It was a little bit same with Bjorn.

Q. They have both taken such hits since their retirements, I am wondering if you have any thoughts on what's going on with Mats right now?

STEFAN EDBERG: I've had that question because -- I mean the way I look at it, it's tough. It's really tough the way that things have gone. There is nothing I would have wished happen to him, but, you know, you just need to sort things out here and sort of get back to basics again so he can go out and enjoy himself and play.

Q. Stefan, is there a future for serve and volleyers in the power game and will a serve and volleyer be able to dominate the game?

STEFAN EDBERG: I think it is still possible, but it is almost a disappearing art out there. It has been, but that may change some time a few years down the road, but I think you need to be more of an all around player today than at any time before where you need to be able to do anything, stay back and volley, stay back, come in, so it is really going to be a mixture because before you had guys playing serve and volley on everything, staying back on everything. In today's game you really need to mix things up, but I would hope there would be more serve and volleyers because there aren't that many left question.

Q. Speaking of disappearing things, you can't look back 30 years, which some of us can, but there are things you are surely aware; there are customs and behaviors in tennis 30 years ago, do any of them come to mind that you would like to see back?

STEFAN EDBERG: From way before?

Q. As things were.

STEFAN EDBERG: I really -- I started following tennis in the mid seventies and, I don't know, it's -- I think the way the players are behaving today is much better than it was at that time in the seventies and eighties because there are sometimes restrictions what you can do now. As long as people being truthful out there and doing their best and letting the umpires do their job, that's the ideal thing, but as we all know, we need things to happen. There are things that are not so good and there are things that are as good. You don't want things to be the same all the time because people love to see, you know, guys like McEnroe where sort of the crowd is anticipating something to happen, whether it is something good or bad, you still need a little bit of both worlds. I think as long as you keep it on a good level that's the ideal thing.

Q. Have you ever had a conduct warning in your career?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, well I think I've had a warning or so, yes. I don't know really. I've had one fine --

Q. One what?

STEFAN EDBERG: I've had a fine of $350.

Q. What did you do?

STEFAN EDBERG: It happened in Los Angeles. I think it was in '86. It was in the tiebreaker, I was supposed to hit a ball into the net hard, it went over the net and sort of in between the line umpires at the back, but it was no warning at the match, nothing. I think it was the next morning somebody came up and gave me a piece of paper and said, you got fined. I said, for what? I couldn't even remember the thing, but it was a funny thing.

JOE LYNCH: We will have to adjust that career prize money.

Q. Did you pay it?

STEFAN EDBERG: I am still paying it off.

Q. I have a question. Do you have any opinion about the player from Chile, Marcelo Rios; what do you think about him?

STEFAN EDBERG: I think he has really showed his potential in the last several weeks. What I see, I mean, I don't really know him that much, but he seems to be a guy that is prepared to work very, very, very hard and spend the time that you have to do in order to be a good player and, you know, he's got a great chance this year of striking it into top ten then it is all up to him how far he wants to go.

JOE LYNCH: That's a perfect segway because we will be right back with Marcelo Rios.

End of FastScripts....

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