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Playing for Big Stakes, Edberg Is Triple Loser : Swedish Player Manages to Drop Games to Cash, McEnroe and Then Lendl

November 28, 1987|LISA DILLMAN | Special to The Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It was a bad day, and quickly getting worse for Stefan Edberg.

He lost to Pat Cash. He lost to John McEnroe. And, in completing the lousy day, he lost to Ivan Lendl.

Really, though, lousy is a relative term here at the Stakes Match. Despite losing the three matches, and losing $115,400 in about a three-hour span, Edberg was still ahead $134,600 for his efforts Friday at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club.

"If I keep continuing like this, I'm going to be in bad shape," he said, smiling.

Someone pointed out to Edberg that he did make some money . . . and, it wasn't exactly spare change, either.

"That's true, but I lost almost as much," he said. "If I keep going on like this, I'll be sponsoring this event."

Easy come, easy go.

Edberg might as well have been a modest investor on the stock market the way his luck went. For him, it was a black Friday as he lost money at an amazing rate. Edberg dropped approximately $38,466 an hour, which works out to about $641.11 a minute.

There is a possibility that he could lose his entire stake today--especially if he plays anything like he did on Friday--and, therefore, be out of the Stakes Match.

Each player began with a $250,000 stake for this three-day event. The players meet in round-robin matches, the winner being determined by the first to reach 15 points by a two-point margin.

During the first two days of round-robin play, each game is worth $30,000. Additionally, players can earn $2,000 for a service ace and lose $2,000 for a double fault. Another aspect is the rally point. Each time the ball crosses the net, the value of the point increases $200. If Lendl and Edberg have a six-shot rally won by Edberg, he'll get $1,200 of Lendl's money.

After today's play, the top two money winners from the round-robin competition will meet Sunday.

Now, after Friday's round-robin matches, Cash leads with $350,600, Lendl is second with $300,400 and McEnroe has $214,000.

Then, there's Edberg.

For him, the day started off poorly as he lost to Cash, 15-11, and dropped $33,800. Afterward, Edberg's agent, Tom Ross, was recalculating the figures and shaking his head as he realized how much his client had lost.

It got worse. McEnroe beat Edberg, 17-15, and Edberg lost $34,000. But the real blow fell when Edberg lost to Lendl, 15-7, and dropped $47,600.

This is what led to Edberg's downfall in that particular game:

--At 2-0, with Edberg ahead and serving, he netted a ground stroke after a seven-shot rally. Lendl received $1,400.

--Lendl served the next point and won it when Edberg hit wide after a five-stroke exchange. Lendl received $1,000.

--Lendl hit a topspin lob inside the baseline with Edberg at the net. Lendl received $1,400.

--Edberg stopped Lendl's run the next point by hitting a service winner. Edberg received $200.

--Then, Edberg hurt his cause by double-faulting the next point. Lendl received $2,000.

"I need a win," Edberg said. "That's what I need. It's not easy. I've been getting a bad start in all the matches. I've been down, and I have to work on my game a bit. It's going to be hard the way I'm playing. "I hit one good serve and I get $200, and then I get in a long rally and I lose twice as much.

Of the four players, Cash appeared to be the sharpest as he really didn't have much of a struggle in his three matches.

"I hope I don't lose it all tomorrow, or the next day," he said. "There's a long way to go, but so far so good."

The best "match" of the day came when Lendl played McEnroe. Lendl won, 24-22, when McEnroe pushed a volley wide. McEnroe alternated between joking with the crowd and getting angry with himself and the linesmen.

When a baby started crying just before McEnroe started to serve, he paused, and said:

"I know all about that."

Later, McEnroe received a code violation when he smashed his racket on the court. He was fined $500. The money goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"I've always been a big supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation," McEnroe said. "In this case, it doesn't bother me because it does go to a good cause. If all the money I've been fined went to a good cause it wouldn't bother me half as much as wondering where it does go to. If you act like an idiot, you get fined and you know where it goes. It doesn't bother me at all."

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