The ATP finals will get underway pretty soon in London – and who better to mark the event by recalling his 1989 title than Stefan Edberg…? Indeed, Edberg took the title in 1989 and, three decades later, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are the stars in the running for the trophy this time around.
“If this tournament was big in the 1980s – when I was competing against the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi – it’s now even bigger,” Edberg told the tournament’s official website.
“Winning the title in 1989, after coming from a set down against Becker in the final, was massive for me, a genuine turning point in my career. But, in the 30 years since I was the champion, the ATP Finals has turned into something huge. I feel as though it’s now even more important for this modern generation.”
The modern generation, of course, is spearheaded by Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, although some will argue at least one of them is on the way out. There’s no getting around their outstanding head-to-head rivalries, though, as this infographic from Betway attests.
“I saw that transformation when coaching Federer in 2014 and 2015 – both years, he reached the final here in London, coming close to adding to his record six titles at this end-of-year showpiece. Sitting in Roger’s corner, I had an insight into how the tournament had moved on since I was playing, and how much it means to the elite eight who qualify at the end of a long season on the ATP Tour. On court, or behind the scenes, I couldn’t help but notice how everything about the tournament – from the players’ lounge to the transport to the way the matches are presented – is now bigger and better than it was in the 1980s,” added Edberg.
“In the decade since this tournament moved to The O2, the ATP have done a great job at showcasing tennis’ golden generation. London is a city where people love their tennis, and there’s always a fantastic atmosphere at this tournament, with the public enjoying the opportunity to watch the best players on such a big stage.
“The big crowds in London have added to the significance of this event, which has been extremely successful. Behind the scenes, when I helped Roger to prepare for his matches, and also observed others, I could see how focused they were, how much they wanted this title.
“Qualifying for the ATP Finals is a special achievement as it demonstrates you’re among the top eight players in the world, and that you’ve done consistently well at the biggest events during the regular season. At the start of the season, everyone will want to be here – I can tell you that, during my own career, it was always my ambition to be among the top eight.
“I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the chance to finish the year by competing against the very best – it’s great for the players, as well as for the spectators, to have the elite all together. That makes it a great event, but also an extremely tough event to win, as there are never any easy matches.”
Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of the memorable final which Borg won in five sets against his great rival McEnroe.
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