x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Courier takes the honours

Jim Courier's baseline expertise once again helped him get the better of Stefan Edberg in the climax to the Legends Rock Dubai.

Jim Courier hits a shot during his straight sets victory over Stefan Edberg in Dubai.
Jim Courier hits a shot during his straight sets victory over Stefan Edberg in Dubai.

DUBAI // Jim Courier's baseline expertise which proved superior to Stefan Edberg's volleying prowess in the final of the Australian Open nearly 16 years ago, again proved the decisive factor in the climax to the Legends Rock Dubai. The effects of advancing years on a player's sharpness are not as noticeable when he is scampering around the back of the court as they are when he is sprinting forwards trying to take control at the net and time caught up with the Swede when he came up against another former world No 1 with a $54,000 (Dh198,000) at stake.

Courier's ground strokes were legendary when the American was at his peak and, although they are nothing like as penetrative as they were in his grand slam winning days, they proved two much for Edberg, who by four years was the elder finalist. A break in the eighth game of the first set enabled Courier to seize the initiative and he found another way past the Edberg serve and volley game in the third game of the second set to take command.

Although Edberg fought back to level at 4-4 in that second set, Courier broke through in the ensuing game to earn the chance to serve for the match and this time made no mistake, sealing a 6-3, 6-4 victory on his first match point. Edberg, who had entered the six-man tournament as a late replacement for the injured Goran Ivanisevic, did well over the four days at the Aviation Club and defeated his fellow Swede Anders Jarryd and South Africa's Wayne Ferreira to reach the final.

Courier, the pre-tournament favourite, emerged from a group containing the defending champion Paul Haarhuis, of Holland and the Spaniard Sergi Bruguera. Meanwhile, Haarhuis put the disappointment of failing to retain the crown behind him to defeat Anders Jarryd in a clinical 8-5 display to claim third position. The Dutchman, who had lost to Courier on Friday, said: "Although I am disappointed not to come back to Dubai and retain the title I won last year, it is a very talented field and I was pleased to claim third place."

wjohnson@thenational.ae tbrooks@thenational.ae