x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Edberg volleys his way through

The lost art of serve and volley was brought back to life by the former world No 1 Stefan Edberg who made a winning start to his Legends Rock Dubai challenge.

Stefan Edberg made a winning start in Dubai as he beat Wayne Ferreira in straight sets.
Stefan Edberg made a winning start in Dubai as he beat Wayne Ferreira in straight sets.

DUBAI // The lost art of serve and volley was brought back to life by the former world No 1 Stefan Edberg, who deployed the outmoded tactic to make a winning start to his Legends Rock Dubai challenge. Rarely does a top-class player rush the net nowadays and it will probably be a long time before any of the current crop of champions does it as frequently in a two-set victory as the Swede did here in disposing of a younger South African rival Wayne Ferreira.

"I have got to rely on what I have done best throughout my career," said Edberg after a 6-3, 6-2 victory which sets up a group decider tonight against his fellow Swede Anders Jarryd. At his peak, Edberg who won six grand slam titles at three different venues, was reputed to be the best exponent of serve and volley the sport had seen. He is well beyond his peak now at the age of 42 but impressed his opponent Ferreira who reflected: "I can only think of Pat Rafter and perhaps Tim Henman who could be compared with Stefan in terms of their serve and volley skills.

"Pete Sampras used the tactic to telling effect, but it more about his tremendous serve than the quality of his volleying." Ferreira was pretty solid himself at the net in his heyday but confessed to being "too lazy" now that he has reached veteran stage. "Unlike Stefan," he added. "He is still a wonderful athlete and it was a pleasure to be on court with him witnessing what he can still do." Edberg said: "It is a shame that there are no top players nowadays who rely on getting to the net quickly to make a winning volley."

Referring in particular to Roger Federer, the five-times Wimbledon champion who is a natural volleyer, he added: "I have said many times that Roger should volley more when he comes up against [Rafael] Nadal in the big matches. "He is not going to beat Rafa from the back of the court, but perhaps he would unsettle him if he mixed his game up a bit more." Meanwhile, Paul Haarhuis began the defence of his Dubai title on Wednesday night with a convincing win against the Spaniard Sergi Bruguera.

The Dutchman, recognised as one of the fittest on the circuit, put continual pressure on his opponents serve and forced a break in each set to win 7-5, 6-4. wjohnson@thenational.ae tbrooks@thenational.ae