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Edberg Obviously Not Finished Yet : Indian Wells tennis: Swede easily disposes of Cahill to reach semifinals against Sampras.

March 05, 1994|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

INDIAN WELLS — Stefan Edberg won $2,309,509 in 1993, reached the semifinals in 10 tournaments and finished the season ranked among the top five in the ATP Tour rankings for the ninth consecutive year.

For him, it was a bad year.

The gentlemanly Swede won only one tournament, failed to win a Grand Slam event for the first time since 1989 and, after winning the U.S. Open in each of the previous two years, lost in the second round.

It was hinted that his priorities had changed after the birth last July of his daughter, Emilie, and that the former No. 1 player was no longer motivated, no longer driven to reach the top.

Edberg, 28, silently steamed and set out to show that he still had a few good years left, still had a Grand Slam event title in him.

"I want to show that I can still play tennis," he said Friday after blowing past Darren Cahill of Australia, 6-1, 6-3, in 62 minutes to move into the semifinals of the Newsweek Champions Cup at Hyatt Grand Champions.

Edberg, seeded third, will play top-seeded Pete Sampras, who needed 73 minutes to defeat eighth-seeded Thomas Muster, 6-3, 6-2.

The other semifinal will match 10th-seeded Petr Korda of the Czech Republic, a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Carlos Costa, and unseeded Aaron Krickstein, who defeated Alexander Volkov, 6-3, 6-4.

Edberg's sub-par year did not catch him totally off guard, he said, but that didn't make it any more enjoyable for a player who has won six Grand Slam titles and ended both 1990 and '91 as the world's No. 1 player.

"There's going to come a time where you're going to lose track a little bit because you cannot stay up there forever," he said. "(But) it's sort of hard to face yourself (when you) start losing matches, start missing shots that you normally wouldn't miss if you were playing well.

"It's hard to adjust mentally. Instead of making semifinals, finals, I was losing third round, quarterfinals, and I wasn't beating the top players. . . .

"Once you start losing to guys that maybe you shouldn't lose to, it makes you start thinking a little bit. Other players realize they have a chance, and you get down a little bit on yourself, lose a bit of confidence."

Perhaps fatherhood was too much of a distraction?

"It's hard to tell," Edberg said. "It possibly could have happened without me having the baby last year. It was going to happen sooner or later. You have to make adjustments.

"I lost track a little bit. I didn't enjoy myself as much as I should. Maybe I was a little bit more tense."

This year has been different.

He has already won two tournaments and reached the semifinals at the Australian Open before losing three tiebreakers against Todd Martin.

This week, he hasn't lost a set.

"I feel pretty hungry this year," he said. "I feel now for the first time in quite some time that I'm actually playing good tennis. I mean, really good tennis."

Edberg tuned out the whispers that he was over the hill.

"You know within yourself what you're capable of doing," he said. "And I knew last year was tough, but I knew I wasn't quite finished. I still have a couple more years where I can play good tennis.

"I don't really think about getting back (to No. 1) because it's extremely tough. It's not impossible, but I see myself winning another Slam and staying on top of the game because I can definitely stay in the top five. And if you're up there, you always have chances to win tournaments.

"I love competing, so that's why I keep going."

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