- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Sweden has been waiting for Edberg to fulfill his vast promise ever since Percy Rosberg, Borg's original coach, grabbed Edberg by the two-handed backhand and convinced him his natural aggression would be better served if he worked on a one-hander. (Rosberg had advised Borg just the opposite.) So was created a character out of Ripley: a Swede who was dynamite on fast courts.
The son of a policeman, Edberg grew up at a tennis club without locker rooms in Vastervik. In 1983 he became the only player ever to win the junior Grand Slam. A year later Edberg jumped from 83 to 17 on the computer in two weeks—another record. Then he won the Olympic gold medal in L.A. Earlier this year he thrashed Jimmy Connors 6-1, 6-4 en route to winning the U.S. Indoors in Memphis.
At first Edberg was too impressed by the other Swedes. "He was at their demands," says one of his advisers, Erik Bergelin, the son of Borg's former coach, Lennart. But victories over Jarryd and Wilander at Milan in March '84 made the kid one of the gang. In Goteborg in December the Swedes were ready to replace Edberg in the key doubles of the Davis Cup finals if they were shy of a 2-0 lead. Holding serve all day, Edberg was the best player on the court in the clinching match.
"Two years ago at Wimbledon I see this guy lose to Sundstrom in second round, 8-6 in fifth," says Rino Tommasi, the Italian guru of tennis journalism. "I say, if this guy does not win Wimbledon in five years, I will quit writing tennis. Of course, if he does not, I will not remind anybody. But if he does...." Watch Dennis the Menace on the All England Club lawns the next two weeks. Tommasi isn't about to retire.
Distinguishing Jarryd, 23, of Lidkoping from the other Swedes never used to be a problem. He was the doubles specialist—already this year he has won four doubles titles with four different partners—the one who wore glasses, the awkward fellow with the funny strokes and the bowlegs. He also screamed and stomped and carried on. The other Swedes suspect that if the Grand Prix supervisors could understand their language, Jarryd would lead the tour in fines, if not suspensions. "Stoicism is no big thing, just the way we are," Nystrom says. "Except for Jarryd. He's crazy."
Now equipped with contact lenses that give him an even wilder-eyed look than before—Elton John launching into, say, Madman Across the Water—Jarryd says he needs to be "tense, eager, pumped-up, or else I will lose. The guys laugh at me, but one has to find one's own style. When I behave myself bad, though, after the match I don't like it."
Jarryd made his move in singles at the 1983 Canadian Open, in which he upset Eliot Teltscher, Gerulaitis and McEnroe before losing to Lendl in the finals. Jarryd's terrific hands and mobility—developed by playing bandy on the ice back home—have made up for his unorthodox style on serve and at net. Some of Jarryd's twisted-arm, jumbled-leg saving volleys are framed in the Bureau of Silly Gets. When on a roll, however, he is virtually unstoppable. Forget "reading" him. Jarryd led McEnroe 6-2, 3-0, 40-30 at the Masters in January before he admittedly choked. "I don't remember ever being beaten that badly for a set and a half," Mac said.
It's in the taut, bone-sweating clinches of his big matches that the placidity, the insouciance, the persona of doom warmed over become instantly recognizable. If anyone is a spiritual clone of Borg, it's Nystrom. "I know the muscles in Joakim's face don't work," said U.S. player Billy Scanlon, sitting in the Dallas audience during Nystrom's upset of McEnroe, "but somebody ought to tell him to at least breathe hard."