In a match that was so tight it had to be decided by a match tie-break, no-one knew who would be the eventual winner in this closely fought battle between the legendary Stefan Edberg and the powerful Mark Philippoussis. At 1 set-all, a match tie-break was called upon to decide the winner and even that was close right up to the end but Edberg just edged out Philippoussis with a smash that gave him a 10-8 victory.
At the beginning of the 1st set it looked as if Edberg would walk away with the match as he quickly won the first 2 games. Philippoussis held onto his next serve but Edberg just had the upper-hand in the 4th game, taking the score to 3-1. Philippoussis seemed unconcerned at this stage, engaging Edberg in humourous banter that got the crowd laughing. At one stage, Edberg performed an uncharacteristic ballet pose to drop a shot just over the net to win the point. 6’ 5” Philippoussis then mimicked him, sending the crowd into peals of laughter. Laughter seemed to be Philippoussis’ tonic as he had an incredibly strong game, complete with aces, drop-shots and powerful, winning groundstrokes, enabling him to take the score to 3-2. Edberg had the upper hand in both tennis and football in the following game – Philippoussis kicked the ball in mock frustration at losing a point, at which point Edberg headed it back but Philippoussis couldn’t return it!
Philippoussis had a cracking service game, acing several times – once on his 2nd serve! Unsurprisingly, he took that game but Edberg’s steady and sure play in the following game enabled him to retain his serve despite some amazingly strong forehands from Philippoussis. Some fantastic shots from Philippoussis won him the next game and, despite some classic serve-and-volleying winners from Edberg, Philippoussis broke his serve to take the score to a nail-biting 5-5. Another ace-heavy service game from Philippoussis left him 6-5 up and he took the set 7-5 with some beautifully placed shots.
An exciting moment occurred in the change of end in between sets as, much to the delight of the female members of the crowd, Philippoussis changed his shirt – cheers were heard around the stadium!
Edberg started the 2nd set with a more aggressive style of play but Philippoussis proved too strong, with power serves and corner shots. However, each held their serve and smashes from Edberg and dozens of aces from the fast-serving Philippoussis kept the crowd entertained right up until the 6-6 draw meant the need for a tie-break, which Edberg took 7-3. At 1 set-all, a match tie-break was played and it was close right up until Edberg eventually took it 10-8. Passing volleys, powerful smashes, aces and rallies so long both players were lying on the ground with exhaustion, made for an incredibly exciting end to a thrilling match. The crowd erupted at the end, giving the players a well-earned round of applause for the fantastic tennis they produced. A grinning Edberg said, “We both played very well at times, I really enjoyed it and the crowd was great.”