Mumbai: While Stefan Edberg wowed one and all with his magical backhand and kick-serve on the singles circuit, the Swedish legend was also a force in doubles and his three Grand Slams titles, in what he calls a “team sport”, are enough to say that he was one of the finest players across a multiple disciplines of the game.
Edberg was in Mumbai recently and in this exclusive interview, on the sidelines of TOISA, he spoke about various topics; from India’s doubles power, why a few countries like India struggle in singles to India's marathon man of tennis - Leander Paes.
Here are the excerpts:
Indian tennis has produced some of the better doubles players but where is it lacking to develop singles players?
It is easier said than done. It takes time. Going back to Sweden, you probably have to go back and start at the early age, get the right coaches and learn the right skills from the beginning. India, like the other countries from the Asia Pacific region, has a lot of potential.
There’s more money coming in the game which has nestled the ground. But even if you have framework, to produce players, may be, you need to get the general level up in India. At the same time, it is quite complex, getting there and usually, it takes time. 10-12 years to get an answer. Because if you start at seven, probably, a breakthrough, in 13 years, you will have the answer. So, it is a very long cycle.
Is tennis being an expensive sport a reason behind it? Leander Paes, during one of his interviews, said that to get a breakeven, it takes a lot.
Yeah. Sometimes tennis can be an expensive sport. It does not give everyone an opportunity. In Sweden, everybody gets a chance because of the system we have. So, it makes a little easier for anybody who wants to get into tennis. But even there, it is tough because with all the costs that are involved with tennis. From wherever you are, you have to remember that there’s a lot of competition. Very few are going to make it in the end. You have to make it to an extremely good level to make a living in tennis. (It is) Probably a lot easier in some other sports to make your living. Paying salaries etc. If you are from Sweden, you have to be in top 100, to make it a living.
What’s your take on Sania Mirza and Leander Paes, considering you have also played doubles?
They have done extremely well, especially, Leander Paes. He was playing doubles during my time and I finished about 20 years ago and what Leander has done is quite amazing. To be so competitive, so good and still being around, it is fascinating. But I guess, you (India) got a lot of doubles players. So, may be Indians are suited with good reactions, like to play the volleys, good team members because doubles is more like a team sport.