By Craig Gabriel, Australian Tennis Magazine, September 1988

Stefan Edberg wants to be the best player in the world and he knows this is a mission that demands a day in, day out routine. Most days are typical for him during a tournament as he juggles the hours between practice sessions, PR appearances and matches.
Edberg rises each morning at about 8.30 a.m., when he showers and eats breakfast, which is never heavy. A fruit juice would be followed by cereal and then toast and cold cuts of breakfast meat.
“I eat a meal depending on when I am going to play a match,” said Edberg. “I don’t like to get loaded down with food before a match because it feels uncomfortable on court and you find it difficult to move.”

Edberg returned to the Graden Plaza Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was playing the Volvo Tennis/US Indoor, and did a couple of push-ups on the floor of his room. He does not usually make use of the fitness centres that more hotels are providing because he mostly likes to be on his own.
The 22-year-old Swede may play a game different from most other Swedes, in that he prefers to serve-and-volley rather than sit on the back-fence and drill groundstrokes from corner to corner in a battle of attrition, but Stefan is still very much like his compatriots in his reserved manner.
This was a match-day for the world’s number two ranked player. He was the defending champion at the tournament and attempting to make the final for the fourth consecutive year. It was a very attainable feat, because the draw for the tournament was one of the weakest in the event’s history.

Tony Pickard, a former Davis Cup player and Edberg’s longtime coach from England, was not with his charge this week, and Stefan was quite happy to arrange most ot his own schedule. He is developing a more mature and confident attitude. He called the Racquet Club of Memphis, where the tournament was being played – it was almost next door to the hotel – and made arrangements for a practice session.
Edberg flopped back onto his bed, looking at the ceiling, thinking how most hotel rooms look the same after so many years on the pro tour. He had taken off his shoes and t-shirt and was relaxing with his eyes closed when the phone rang. It was his agent, Tom Ross, from Advantage International, the Washington-based company, calling to say that he was in town. Ross reminded Edberg about his commitments regarding appearances for the products he endorses.

It was now 9.30 and the day was already an hour old for Edberg. As a rule, he is not the type to waste time and he started to get things into gear.

“I have so many things that have to be done in a day that I don’t have time to relax or delay. People think we only play matches and then have the rest of the day off. It is just not the case,” he explained.

Tom Ross had made his way down to Edberg’s room and said there was a car waiting downstairs to take them to an adidas reception. adidas created the “Stefan Edberg Collection” two years ago. The endorsement contract was said to be worth millions of dollars, including royalties, so the more appearances Stefan made the better for his bank balance. No matter how much Edberg was prompted, he would not disclose any figures.
On the way to meet the buyers, a stop was made at the home of Lars Nilsson, who is a Swede on a tennis scholarship in Memphis. He and Edberg were friends back in Sweden and they came from the same town. Lars would be Stefan’s practice partner later in the day and his doubles partner for the week.

In the car, discussions were taking place about scheduling and where Edberg would need to make appearances over the next few weeks and what advance interviews would be needed, whether in person or over the phone.
His itinerary included tournaments in Canada and Cincinnati, which would feature the likes of Becker, Wilander and Mecir, and then Japan, where he was the defending champion.

“I like going to Japan,” said Edberg. “I have won quite a few times there and I am always looked after so well. I look forward to the trips there.”

The adidas function took about an hour, with the Edberg clothing range on display around the room. He handled himself in his usual quiet manner and then excused himself, explaining that he had to leave for a practice session as he had a match that night.

“It is a great feeling to see my name on the clothes,” said Edberg, getting back into the car. “I feel very proud. I feel the same way when they make the announcements on the courts to introduce me for a match.”

Normally, wherever Edberg goes, he is followed by hordes of screaming girls. His fair Scandinavian looks make him very attractive to the teenyboppers, whether he is in Japan, Australia or the American midwest. On this occasion, they were absent and Edberg probably felt a little relieved about that because there is a time and place for everything.
As a promotion for the tournament, Edberg agreed to go to a city store and sign autographs for half an hour. The event needed some attention. There, he was almost besieged by the girls and he tried to oblige all requests. He was constantly saying “thank you” in response to the dozens of compliments that were paid to him. The smile never left his face.

“It is part of the job,”he said. “It is hard sometimes, but it has to be done. There are so many things I like to do, such as going to the movies or out to dinner, and I like listening to music.”

It was a little after midday when he returned to his hotel room. Racquets were piled up in one corner, shoes – about a dozen pairs – somewhere else and packets of gut strings were spilling out of a bag. Even so, the room looked relatively orderly for that of a tennis player.
Edberg’s lovely girlfriend, Annette Olsson, Sweden’s top model, was not travelling with him. He took a little time to call her, but didn’t say where she was.
Room service was ordered for lunch, and again nothing too heavy was chosen. He ordered pasta. He then did an interview by way of an interpreter, for a tournament in Japan, and followed up with a one-on-one interview for a newspaper in Memphis. By this time, lunch had arrived.
Edberg phoned Tony Pickard in London, where it was about 8 p.m. They talked about the match that night against Damir Keretic, who has a solid all-round game. The West German could be dangerous if Stefan was tired; after all, Stefan had been in town only a day following his win at the tournament at Rotterdam for the second consecutive year.

It was now now a little before 2 p.m. and Edberg decided to go to the courts a little early and do some exercises. When he got to the courts, he took out a skipping rope and used it for a few minutes to loosen up and “get myself on my toes”. He then did a couple of sprints up and down the sideline, and various stretching exercises that most pros do as a protection against pulled hamstrings or groin muscles, etc.
Hitting with Nilsson, the pace soon picked up. Edberg worked on his approach shot down the line. After 20 minutes, they stopped for a breather and a drink. For Edberg, even that is an endorsement, a sports drink called Pripps.
They returned to the court and Stefan slammed down his big serve and also his hard-to-handle kick second serve. They played a tiebreak, which the higher ranked Swede won hands down. After the set was over, Edberg did some wind sprints. He said he does not like to run distances on a track or road.

On returning to the hotel, the players took showers and Edberg got onto the phone once more, this time to call his family in Sweden. He calls his parents and brother about three times a week. His father is Bengt, his mother is Barbro, and his 15-year-old brother is Jan, a good player.

“It is nice to call home,” said Stefan. “When I call them, we talk about what is happening at home and how my matches are going. We talk about a whole lot of things.”

Once the call is over, there is another meeting with Tom Ross to discuss more scheduling and business deals. Edberg likes to keep the Grand Slam weeks free from any distractions, such as interviews and endorsement appearances, so that he can just concentrate on his tennis.

“I keep an interest in where my money is going,” he said. “I think it is important to know what is happening all the time and what is being done with my investments. I find it very interesting.”

Edberg handles the unnatural lifestyle with ease. He took a bit of time to relax and lay on his bed with the television on. It was now about 5.30 p.m. and his match was in two hours, so he went back to the club for a warm-up practice session.
Match time. The stands around the main court had a capacity of 5,200 and were almost full as Edberg and Keretic walked out. Edberg was surrounded by three bodyguards, one a former secret service agent, as protection from the fans. For the multi-millionaire sportsman, this was not an uncommon practice.
Edberg won the match 7-5, 6-4, but he looked tired, and, once all the post-match interviews were finished, he went out to dinner with Lars Nilsson. As he pointed out, there were no late nights for him because of his commitment to be always at his best. Although he wanted to go to see the movie, “Shoot to Kill”, his busy schedule did not allow it.

“I know there are many sacrifices and plenty of special requests,” he said. “I don’t get to go sightseeing very often. I like to go shopping, but it can be difficult. I knew what I was getting into and I enjoy it with the travelling, but I also like to see my friends.”

It was now past midnight after a long day. And this was only the start of the week.

Stefan Edberg, Australian Open 1987

From Pat Cash’s autobiography Uncovered

Losing the final of a Grand Slam tournament is hard enough; doing it in your home city is even worse. And the sensation that your shoulder is just about to drop off hardly adds to the feeling of well-being. But walking back into the locker room at Kooyong after being defeated by Stefan Edberg in the final of the Australian Open, I had to contend with something extra: the spectacle of Edberg’s agent, Tom Ross, shouting, screaming and leaping all over the place like some pubescent kid.
Ross worked for the management company that was responsible for Edberg, but in my excuse that was no excuse for this juvenile, unpofessional behaviour, even Edberg looked embarassed by it. I have always believed that the players’ locker room should be reserved for the sole use of the contestants themselves, their coaches and their physiotherapists, and no one else. Unfortunately, agents are allowed to ply their trade in the players’ lounges and restaurants, but certainly not the locker room.[…]

Returning to Kooyong was always going to be an extremely tough call, barely three weeks after the triumph of winning the Davis Cup final in such heroic manner. Many Australian fans believed it was a forgone conclusion that I would just carry on where I left off against Pernfors, and win the title with ease. But Neale Fraser, who had a better idea of the realities of the situation, has since admitted that he thought I would struggle to recapture my best tennis so soon after such an emotionally draining experience.

I almost proved dear old Frase wrong, and maybe I only came up short against Edberg in the final because of the intensive physical work I had put in beforehand. Seeded 11th, I got a bye in the first round, and then beat the Italian Claudio Pistolesi in four sets. A couple of Americans, Ben Testerman and Paul Annacone, should both probably have been dispatched more quickly than they were, but I made it through to the quarter-finals to face Yannick Noah.
Then midway through the match, I miss-hit a couple of shots and felt a jolt of pain in my right shoulder. Immediately I saw the danger signs flashing, because I had been working had on my serve and the joint had been taking a pounding. Fortunately I beat Yannick, ounding off the win to love in the fourth set; but I knew I was in trouble. The problem was simply over-use, and all it required was a week or so of rest. But of course that’s not possible in a Grand Slam tournament.

My shoulder was killing me as I faced Lendl in the semi, and the fact that I won remains one of the miracles of my career. I only managed to serve at three-quarter pace thoughout, and I got through to my first-ever final of a major because I volleyed so well; the grass court was dry and the ball bounced high, so just rolling my arm over generated sufficent pace.

I couldn’t practice at all on the day before the final. My trusty physiotherapist David Zuker tried loosening up the troublesome muscles, but the shoulder was shot – and Edberg was in no mood for sympathy. I’m sure he felt a revenge for revenge after the Davis Cup final, and he was playing me off the court. By courtesy of my half-paced serve, he rapidly took a two set lead.
Stefan knew the route to the title at Kooyong, having lifted the trophy two years previously. Throughout the tournament he had been in supreme form and had only dropped one set on his way to the final, in his opening match. Miloslav Mecir only managed to take nine games off Edberg in the quarter-final, Wally Masur fared just marginally better in the semi, and it appeared that I was next in line for the treatment. But somehow I managed to get myself back in the match, and levelled the score at two sets all.
However, I knew I was undoubtedly still the underdog. The shoulder pain became unbearable, and serving for the fourth set, I hit three successive double faults. There was no pace or stick on my delivery, and as I tried to find a little extra power, I lost my rythm altogether. I managed to grab the set after losing my serve, but I had lost the momentum. Edberg broke early in the fifth, and recaptured the title he’d won as a teenager. My hopes of a perfect Australian summer had fallen at the last obstacle, and my dreams of Grand Slam glory were forced back on hold.

After the match I was not in the best of moods – I defy anyone to be a good loser in those circumstances. Even before being infuriated by the sight of Ross in the locker room, I’d got myself into trouble on the awards podium. As is normally the case at the Australian Open, the runner-up is asked if he would like to make a short speech before the winner is presented with the trophy. Naturally I said well done to Edberg, because I’ve always viewed him as one of the finest players ever to grace a grass court. Then I said something along the lines of ‘I’m supposed to thank a load of people like the sponsors Ford and all that junk. But I won’t do that, I’ll leave it to Stefan.’