2nd greatest Swede: Edberg or Wilander?

2nd greatest Swedish tennis player?


  • Total voters
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Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
Who do people think is the 2nd greatest Swedish tennis player?

Here are some stats:

Slam titles: Wilander 7, Edberg 6
Masters (equivalents): Wilander 8, Edberg 8
Year-end Championship: Edberg 1, Wilander 0
Total titles: Edberg 41, Wilander 33
Year-end No 1's: Edberg 2, Wilander 1
Wks at No 1: Edberg 72, Wilander 20
Yrs in top 10: Edberg 10 (9 consecutive in top 5), Wilander 7 (6 consecutive in top 5)
Davis Cups: Edberg 4 ('84, '85, '87, '94), Wilander 3 ('84, '85, '87)

A few other bits and pieces:

- Wilander won three slams in a year (1988), Edberg never won more than one in a year
- Wilander won at least two slams on every surface, Edberg never won one on clay
- Edberg came within one set of winning his worst slam (FO in 1989), Wilander never got past the QF at Wimbledon
- Edberg won three doubles titles (2 AO, 1 US), Wilander won one (1 W)
- Wilander finished narrowly ahead in their H2H (11-9)

For me, Edberg gets the slight nod - because he won Wimbledon twice, when it was clearly the most important slam. Wilander's slam total is inflated a bit due to his early AO wins. Also I value Edberg's greater consistency.

But I think the two are evenly matched enough for this to be an interesting question - especially since they played in the same era, and, as their H2H shows, they were clearly capable of beating each other often using their contrasting styles (Edberg the classic S&V player, Wilander the intelligent baseliner).

What do others think? I'm particularly interested in hearing from those who watched tennis at the time, and from Swedish people (which of the two is generally considered greater in Sweden)?
 

KG1965

Legend
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SamSung

Rookie
For me, Edberg gets the slight nod - because he won Wimbledon twice, when it was clearly the most important slam. Wilander's slam total is inflated a bit due to his early AO wins. Also I value Edberg's greater consistency.

But I think the two are evenly matched enough for this to be an interesting question - especially since they played in the same era, and, as their H2H shows, they were clearly capable of beating each other often using their contrasting styles (Edberg the classic S&V player, Wilander the intelligent baseliner).

What do others think? I'm particularly interested in hearing from those who watched tennis at the time, and from Swedish people (which of the two is generally considered greater in Sweden)?

The AO comment is dumb. If you devalue it then you can take away one of Edberg's majors (1985 when he beat Wilander at the Aus Open). However, it's stupid to diminish Wilander's AO wins. In 1983 he beat McEnroe in the semis and Lendl in the final. Lendl wasn't much on grass but McEnroe was one of the all-time greatest. In 84 he had a much easier draw (like Rafa at this year's US Open - you going to knock that down too?) but so what. Johnny Mac won Wimbledon in 83 and all but one of his opponents were journeymen but no-one says anything about that. Wilander did all of that on a surface that was totally foreign to him and didn't suit his game style. Wilander only won three of his majors on a surface that suited his game, Edberg won all of his on surfaces that suited him. Wilander also did better in Davis Cup on fast indoor, hard and carpet courts.

I think they're equally good and it's kind of sad trying to put one above the other
 
The AO comment is dumb. If you devalue it then you can take away one of Edberg's majors (1985 when he beat Wilander at the Aus Open). However, it's stupid to diminish Wilander's AO wins. In 1983 he beat McEnroe in the semis and Lendl in the final. Lendl wasn't much on grass but McEnroe was one of the all-time greatest. In 84 he had a much easier draw (like Rafa at this year's US Open - you going to knock that down too?) but so what. Johnny Mac won Wimbledon in 83 and all but one of his opponents were journeymen but no-one says anything about that. Wilander did all of that on a surface that was totally foreign to him and didn't suit his game style. Wilander only won three of his majors on a surface that suited his game, Edberg won all of his on surfaces that suited him. Wilander also did better in Davis Cup on fast indoor, hard and carpet courts.

I think they're equally good and it's kind of sad trying to put one above the other

I think the AO88 also suited Wilander's game pretty well - he had lots of success on slower, more high bouncing high courts, and many players with styles fairly similar to his did well at Melbourne Park on rebound ace. At any rate, if the US Open courts of 91 and 92 suited Edberg's game better than did the AO courts of 88, then I think that suggests Edberg was more versatile than Wilander.

I agree that there's no need to rank them. I preferred Edberg but both were among my favorites.
 

speedysteve

Legend
I look at the stats but Stefan gets it for to me, with his dynamic, attacking style of tennis. Breath taking volleying, great 2nd serve. Returners hated it more than his first serve I remember some saying.

I also remember seeing Stefan destroy Mats a couple of times on home soil, admittedly on hard courts..

Okay, it's not what you asked but nice memories all the same.
That is apart from Chang at the F.O for Stefan. That was heart breaking..
He came so close!
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
The AO comment is dumb. If you devalue it then you can take away one of Edberg's majors (1985 when he beat Wilander at the Aus Open). However, it's stupid to diminish Wilander's AO wins. In 1983 he beat McEnroe in the semis and Lendl in the final. Lendl wasn't much on grass but McEnroe was one of the all-time greatest. In 84 he had a much easier draw (like Rafa at this year's US Open - you going to knock that down too?) but so what. Johnny Mac won Wimbledon in 83 and all but one of his opponents were journeymen but no-one says anything about that. Wilander did all of that on a surface that was totally foreign to him and didn't suit his game style. Wilander only won three of his majors on a surface that suited his game, Edberg won all of his on surfaces that suited him. Wilander also did better in Davis Cup on fast indoor, hard and carpet courts.

I think they're equally good and it's kind of sad trying to put one above the other

I don't think it's sad, after all we (posters here) are always ranking the greats. Anyway, this thread was more meant to be about discussing the merits of the two great Swedes.
 

Thomas195

Semi-Pro
Wilander's slam total is inflated a bit due to his early AO wins.
Actually his total was inflated by the court change in AO 1988.

The AO comment is dumb. If you devalue it then you can take away one of Edberg's majors (1985 when he beat Wilander at the Aus Open). However, it's stupid to diminish Wilander's AO wins. In 1983 he beat McEnroe in the semis and Lendl in the final. Lendl wasn't much on grass but McEnroe was one of the all-time greatest. In 84 he had a much easier draw (like Rafa at this year's US Open - you going to knock that down too?) but so what. Johnny Mac won Wimbledon in 83 and all but one of his opponents were journeymen but no-one says anything about that. Wilander did all of that on a surface that was totally foreign to him and didn't suit his game style. Wilander only won three of his majors on a surface that suited his game, Edberg won all of his on surfaces that suited him. Wilander also did better in Davis Cup on fast indoor, hard and carpet courts.

I think they're equally good and it's kind of sad trying to put one above the other
I think the AO88 also suited Wilander's game pretty well - he had lots of success on slower, more high bouncing high courts, and many players with styles fairly similar to his did well at Melbourne Park on rebound ace. At any rate, if the US Open courts of 91 and 92 suited Edberg's game better than did the AO courts of 88, then I think that suggests Edberg was more versatile than Wilander.

I agree that there's no need to rank them. I preferred Edberg but both were among my favorites.

One significant factor is that the court change in AO in 1988 significantly benefited Wilander, Lendl and later Courier at the expense of Edberg and Cash. Becker's performance wouldn't have changed much.

The Edberg-Wilander and Cash-Wilander matches on 1988 medium hard court were all five-set matches, so on grass the balance of these matches would have leaned further towards Cash and Edberg.

I believe that the 1988 AO tournament matters more, since Edberg was really worse off with its surface change. AO grass court was Edberg's natural surface, even more than Wimbledon. He could have won in 1988, 1990 and even 1991 (his peak year) and 1992 on grass. The winner in 1989 wouldn't be Lendl but either Becker or Edberg. This would have push Lendl's status below the level of Connors and Mac.
 
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Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
The 83 and 84 AO's were 96 player draws, so Wilander only had to win 6 matches those years. ditto Edberg in 87. And ranking points were considerably less at the AO than the other majors back then (didn't we just have a thread analyzing why Wilander only finished 83 ranked 4?)

Not a Mats hater, just stating facts.
But here's an opinion - the 83 AO final was possibly the worst major final I've seen. Lendl basically tanked and acted like he just lost the final of a 250 event during the trophy presentation. It certainly didn't feel like a major final. And Mac received an appearance fee to play the AO that year, which is also telling. The fact that Mats never made it past the QF at Wimbledon is a pretty big blemish.

OP, I'm sure there have been other threads on this topic before. Some of our Swedish posters don't really post here anymore, maybe you can find their thoughts on this subject if you can find those threads. I think there was a good one comparing Becker, Edberg, and Wilander.
 

thrust

Legend
Who do people think is the 2nd greatest Swedish tennis player?

Here are some stats:

Slam titles: Wilander 7, Edberg 6
Masters (equivalents): Wilander 8, Edberg 8
Year-end Championship: Edberg 1, Wilander 0
Total titles: Edberg 41, Wilander 33
Year-end No 1's: Edberg 2, Wilander 1
Wks at No 1: Edberg 72, Wilander 20
Yrs in top 10: Edberg 10 (9 consecutive in top 5), Wilander 7 (6 consecutive in top 5)
Davis Cups: Edberg 4 ('84, '85, '87, '94), Wilander 3 ('84, '85, '87)

A few other bits and pieces:

- Wilander won three slams in a year (1988), Edberg never won more than one in a year
- Wilander won at least two slams on every surface, Edberg never won one on clay
- Edberg came within one set of winning his worst slam (FO in 1989), Wilander never got past the QF at Wimbledon
- Edberg won three doubles titles (2 AO, 1 US), Wilander won one (1 W)
- Wilander finished narrowly ahead in their H2H (11-9)

For me, Edberg gets the slight nod - because he won Wimbledon twice, when it was clearly the most important slam. Wilander's slam total is inflated a bit due to his early AO wins. Also I value Edberg's greater consistency.

But I think the two are evenly matched enough for this to be an interesting question - especially since they played in the same era, and, as their H2H shows, they were clearly capable of beating each other often using their contrasting styles (Edberg the classic S&V player, Wilander the intelligent baseliner).

What do others think? I'm particularly interested in hearing from those who watched tennis at the time, and from Swedish people (which of the two is generally considered greater in Sweden)?
IMO, Wimbledon has be vastly overrated for decades, as the same players who competed at Wimbledon also competed in the USO and French. When Wilander won his AO titles, they were just as competitive as the USO and Wimby, therefore, those wins were just as impressive. Stefan and Matts are so close, accomplishment wise, that I would rank them as even.
 

Thomas195

Semi-Pro
as the same players who competed at Wimbledon also competed in the USO and French
Well, since 1982, Wimbledon top contenders were generally kicked out before semifinals in FO with some few exceptions. They were never expected to win there.

Stefan and Matts are so close, accomplishment wise, that I would rank them as even.
Not that close. Wilander (as well as Lendl and Courier) benefited from the surface change in AO 1988 at the expense of Edberg and Cash. He would never defeat Edberg alone on grass by 1988, not to mention defeating Edberg and Cash back to back on grass. Edberg could have won up to 4 more AO titles (1988, 1990, 1991, 1992) if the AO courts remained grass and thus would be remembered differently (AO grass was Edberg's natural surface: it was as fast and bad bouncing as Wimbledon grass, but the balls bounced higher, thus perfectly suited Edberg's kick serves).
 

thrust

Legend
Well, since 1982, Wimbledon top contenders were generally kicked out before semifinals in FO with some few exceptions. They were never expected to win there.


Not that close. Wilander (as well as Lendl and Courier) benefited from the surface change in AO 1988 at the expense of Edberg and Cash. He would never defeat Edberg alone on grass by 1988, not to mention defeating Edberg and Cash back to back on grass. Edberg could have won up to 4 more AO titles (1988, 1990, 1991, 1992) if the AO courts remained grass and thus would be remembered differently (AO grass was Edberg's natural surface: it was as fast and bad bouncing as Wimbledon grass, but the balls bounced higher, thus perfectly suited Edberg's kick serves).
Be that as it may, but the court surfaces were what they were, for everybody. I have always been an avid Edberg fan, but it was his job to adjust to different surfaces, as it was for every other player. Therefore, IMO, it makes no sense to complain about court surfaces. Federer fans complain that Nadal's slam count is inflated due to his success on clay. Well, fact is, clay has been an established court surface for a long time before hard courts, and that Federer grew up on clay courts so he had every opportunity to be as good as Nadal on clay. Unfortunately, most players are not as great on all surfaces. Therefore, Federer is the greater grass and fast hard court player while Nadal is the superior clay or slow HC player. So be it!
 

California

Semi-Pro
Edberg was better than Mats, the stats show that clearly. The real shame for Edberg was the French Open final loss in 89, and the several missed opportunities in the AO finals, one against Lendl and 2 against Courier. That rebound ace didn't do him any favors.... these wins would have changed the legacy of Edberg tremendously. He should have finished with 8 or 9 majors and won on all surfaces, what a shame it didn't happen.
 

Thomas195

Semi-Pro
Be that as it may, but the court surfaces were what they were, for everybody. I have always been an avid Edberg fan, but it was his job to adjust to different surfaces, as it was for every other player. Therefore, IMO, it makes no sense to complain about court surfaces.
Federer fans complain that Nadal's slam count is inflated due to his success on clay. Well, fact is, clay has been an established court surface for a long time before hard courts, and that Federer grew up on clay courts so he had every opportunity to be as good as Nadal on clay.
Long established court surfaces are way different from surface change in the midst of someone's career. Worse, it changed from Edberg's best surface to Lendl and Wilander's best one, from a S&V-friendly surface to a baseline-friendly one. And IMO it was the surface change that allowed Wilander to win in 1988, since beating Edberg and Cash back to back on grass would be next to impossible.
Anyway, Edberg adjusted well, reached 3 AO finals on hard and might have won in 1990 without earlier injury.

The real shame for Edberg was the French Open final loss in 89, and the several missed opportunities in the AO finals, one against Lendl and 2 against Courier
A healthier Edberg might have won in 1990 and 1992 even on Rebound Ace. But he had no chance in 1993. Courier just got better by then.
 

thrust

Legend
Long established court surfaces are way different from surface change in the midst of someone's career. Worse, it changed from Edberg's best surface to Lendl and Wilander's best one, from a S&V-friendly surface to a baseline-friendly one. And IMO it was the surface change that allowed Wilander to win in 1988, since beating Edberg and Cash back to back on grass would be next to impossible.
Anyway, Edberg adjusted well, reached 3 AO finals on hard and might have won in 1990 without earlier injury.


A healthier Edberg might have won in 1990 and 1992 even on Rebound Ace. But he had no chance in 1993. Courier just got better by then.
In one AO final, Edberg was totally dominating Lendl for a set and a half, but had to retire due to a severe injury. I felt real bad for him as I am sure he would have won otherwise.
 

ScentOfDefeat

G.O.A.T.
Below Agassi

Yeah, probably, but Agassi vultured a lot in the late 90's and early 2000's.
His Australian Open wins during that time give him, in my view, a slightly inflated record.
And had Medvedev not choked, he wouldn't have even won the French Open.
If you look just at singles, Agassi is ahead, but if you add singles + doubles Edberg has the slight edge.
 

thrust

Legend
Yeah, probably, but Agassi vultured a lot in the late 90's and early 2000's.
His Australian Open wins during that time give him, in my view, a slightly inflated record.
And had Medvedev not choked, he wouldn't have even won the French Open.
If you look just at singles, Agassi is ahead, but if you add singles + doubles Edberg has the slight edge.
True! Agassi had one year at #1, Edberg had 2 years on top. I think that Stefan is one of the few top players who had the slight H-H advantage VS Sampras, something Andre never had.
 
For me, the fact that Edberg has a better YE No-1 and spent more weeks as no-1 (Albeit scattered across years), shows a consistent presence in the top-3/4 rank atleast for the major part of his winning years.Purely technically speaking, I think they were evenly matched, while Edberg had style, net game and a wicked backhand, Wilander was an early version of Nadal, all grit, very good defense, and a deceptively quick court movement. Too bad he was not consistent for the better part of his career. He could have been an all-slam winner.
OT- sometimes I feel someone like Gilles Simon is pretty much a Wilander 2.0, game wise.
 
For me, the fact that Edberg has a better YE No-1 and spent more weeks as no-1 (Albeit scattered across years), shows a consistent presence in the top-3/4 rank atleast for the major part of his winning years.Purely technically speaking, I think they were evenly matched, while Edberg had style , great net game and a wicked backhand, Wilander was an early version of Nadal, all grit, very good defense, and a deceptively quick court movement. Too bad he was not consistent for t Sometimes I feel someone like Gilles Simon is pretty much a Wilander 2.0, game wise.
 
True! Agassi had one year at #1, Edberg had 2 years on top. I think that Stefan is one of the few top players who had the slight H-H advantage VS Sampras, something Andre never had.
This was only because Sampras was still starting out. A prime Sampras has been a superior athlete to the likes of Becker/Edberg, and even amongst his peers like Courier, Agass. A whole generation ahead I would say.
 
True! Agassi had one year at #1, Edberg had 2 years on top. I think that Stefan is one of the few top players who had the slight H-H advantage VS Sampras, something Andre never had.
This was only because Sampras was still starting out. A prime Sampras has been a superior athlete to the likes of Becker/Edberg, and even amongst his peers like Courier, Agassi,
 

Olli Jokinen

Hall of Fame
It's a tough call. Wilander lost track after 1988, and with the right motivation (and a new raquet), he could have bagged a few more grand slams. On the other hand, Edberg could have soared into ATG-land without the back injuries. They are both greats that could have achieved more. By the way, it would have been fun to see them play doubles. That could have been a brilliant matchup.
 

Pebbles10

New User
Im from sweden and have watched the 80's. As long as Wilander was Motivated he was the better player. Most people dont remember that Wilanders dad was very ill in 89-90. He was Mats biggest fan, when he died Wilander lost the motivation. Wilander was the key factor that sweden won the 84,85 and 87 davis cup and that they came runner up in 1988. There was an articel in a Swedish news paper and the asked the other players about the 80's Davis Cup team and all the other players said that Wilander was so down to Earth and that he took care of the other players. You who dont remember or knows is that Wilander and Edberg did play double togheter against tjeckia in 1988 Davis Cup.

As a 17old guy wilander took on Mac on a super fast Court at Davis Cup semi i Think. I took Mac some 6,5 hours do defeat Wilander.

In sweden we rank Wilander equal to each other.

Wilander was the big tournments guy. He was at his best at slams and Davis Cup.

I for myself Think that a 1988 Wilander was one of the best players ever. He had all the shots in the game. He was never a powerful player. But he could run down anyone. He the best tennis brain ever i Think.

Ivan Lendl have said that the hardest player he ever faced was Wilander on clay:)

Edberg then....we have Mac and Leconte and Sampras, all those guys that a ball touch that was fantastic.

Edbergs Backhand was top notch and Beutiful:) his forhand was his weak shot, and his stamina too in some games.

Wilander had a bad second serv. But had a great sliced backhand that was top notch in 1988.
 

Pebbles10

New User
Im from sweden and have watched the 80's. As long as Wilander was Motivated he was the better player. Most people dont remember that Wilanders dad was very ill in 89-90. He was Mats biggest fan, when he died Wilander lost the motivation. Wilander was the key factor that sweden won the 84,85 and 87 davis cup and that they came runner up in 1988. There was an articel in a Swedish news paper and the asked the other players about the 80's Davis Cup team and all the other players said that Wilander was so down to Earth and that he took care of the other players. You who dont remember or knows is that Wilander and Edberg did play double togheter against tjeckia in 1988 Davis Cup.

As a 17old guy wilander took on Mac on a super fast Court at Davis Cup semi i Think. I took Mac some 6,5 hours do defeat Wilander.

In sweden we rank Wilander and Edberg equal to each other.

Wilander was the big tournments guy. He was at his best at slams and Davis Cup.

I for myself Think that a 1988 Wilander was one of the best players ever. He had all the shots in the game. He was never a powerful player. But he could run down anyone. He the best tennis brain ever i Think.

Ivan Lendl have said that the hardest player he ever faced was Wilander on clay:)

Edberg then....we have Mac and Leconte and Sampras, all those guys that a ball touch that was fantastic.

Edbergs Backhand was top notch and Beutiful:) his forhand was his weak shot, and his stamina too in some games.

Wilander had a bad second serv. But had a great sliced backhand that was top notch in 1988.
 

Pebbles10

New User
Im from sweden and have watched the 80's. As long as Wilander was Motivated he was the better player. Most people dont remember that Wilanders dad was very ill in 89-90. He was Mats biggest fan, when he died Wilander lost the motivation. Wilander was the key factor that sweden won the 84,85 and 87 davis cup and that they came runner up in 1988. There was an articel in a Swedish news paper and the asked the other players about the 80's Davis Cup team and all the other players said that Wilander was so down to Earth and that he took care of the other players. You who dont remember or knows is that Wilander and Edberg did play double togheter against tjeckia in 1988 Davis Cup.

As a 17old guy wilander took on Mac on a super fast Court at Davis Cup semi i Think. I took Mac some 6,5 hours do defeat Wilander.

In sweden we rank Wilander and Edberg equal to each other.

Wilander was the big tournments guy. He was at his best at slams and Davis Cup.

I for myself Think that a 1988 Wilander was one of the best players ever. He had all the shots in the game. He was never a powerful player. But he could run down anyone. He the best tennis brain ever i Think.

Ivan Lendl have said that the hardest player he ever faced was Wilander on clay:)

Edberg then....we have Mac and Leconte and Sampras, all those guys that a ball touch that was fantastic.

Edbergs Backhand was top notch and Beutiful:) his forhand was his weak shot, and his stamina too in some games.

Wilander had a bad second serv. But had a great sliced backhand that was top notch in 1988.
 

flanker2000fr

Hall of Fame
Tough one. They are very, very close in my book. I would perhaps go for Edberg as he stayed longer at number 1, and was fairly dominant for a couple of years (except on clay, obviously). But there really isn't much between those two. Fantastic players, great sportsmen, nice guys.
 

California

Semi-Pro
This was only because Sampras was still starting out. A prime Sampras has been a superior athlete to the likes of Becker/Edberg, and even amongst his peers like Courier, Agass. A whole generation ahead I would say.

Sampras was a better player than Edberg based on his superior forehand and serve, but he wasn't a better athlete. Edberg was a great athlete, fast, quick, great footwork, well coordinated. His issue was his forehand and pace on serve.
 

California

Semi-Pro
This was only because Sampras was still starting out. A prime Sampras has been a superior athlete to the likes of Becker/Edberg, and even amongst his peers like Courier, Agass. A whole generation ahead I would say.

Sampras was a better player than Edberg based on his superior forehand and serve, but he wasn't a better athlete. Edberg was a great athlete, fast, quick, great footwork, well coordinated. His issue was his forehand and pace on serve.
 

Thomas195

Semi-Pro
Sampras was a better player than Edberg based on his superior forehand and serve
Sampras also had better half-volleys and mid-court volleys. He also handled pace at the net better than Edberg, which explained his positive records against Agassi and Courier, who always returned hard.
 
Sampras was a better player than Edberg based on his superior forehand and serve, but he wasn't a better athlete. Edberg was a great athlete, fast, quick, great footwork, well coordinated. His issue was his forehand and pace on serve.
A prime Sampras was incredibly quick on the court.His running forehand/backhand passes were breathtaking. Edberg also had a great running backhand, ut Sampras was a bit quicker. I believe, contrary to popular perception, Edberg's forehand, while not a massive weapon, was his more reliable shot, often used by him to rally.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, probably, but Agassi vultured a lot in the late 90's and early 2000's.
His Australian Open wins during that time give him, in my view, a slightly inflated record.
And had Medvedev not choked, he wouldn't have even won the French Open.
If you look just at singles, Agassi is ahead, but if you add singles + doubles Edberg has the slight edge.

Medvedev didn't choke. Agassi found his confidence and turned that match around. Medvedev couldn't hang with Agassi running on all cylinders.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Sampras was a better player than Edberg based on his superior forehand and serve, but he wasn't a better athlete. Edberg was a great athlete, fast, quick, great footwork, well coordinated. His issue was his forehand and pace on serve.

Edberg was a great athlete. Sampras was even greater. And, there was nothing wrong with the pace of Edberg's serve. It allowed him to make his first volley closer to the net on first serve, and he had one of the best second serves of all time.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
The AO comment is dumb. If you devalue it then you can take away one of Edberg's majors (1985 when he beat Wilander at the Aus Open). However, it's stupid to diminish Wilander's AO wins. In 1983 he beat McEnroe in the semis and Lendl in the final. Lendl wasn't much on grass but McEnroe was one of the all-time greatest. In 84 he had a much easier draw (like Rafa at this year's US Open - you going to knock that down too?) but so what. Johnny Mac won Wimbledon in 83 and all but one of his opponents were journeymen but no-one says anything about that. Wilander did all of that on a surface that was totally foreign to him and didn't suit his game style. Wilander only won three of his majors on a surface that suited his game, Edberg won all of his on surfaces that suited him. Wilander also did better in Davis Cup on fast indoor, hard and carpet courts.

I think they're equally good and it's kind of sad trying to put one above the other

I'd pick Wilander too, but I completely disagree with the bold comment. Wilander came to net more than anyone seems to remember and had more variety in his game than people seemed to give him credit for -- on every surface. He knew what to do on grass and other fast suraces; it was by no means "totally foreign" to him. Sure, grass wasn't his best surface, but his game style could adapt relatively well; hence his 2 AOs on grass which included wins over some legendary (McEnroe) and other very good players. Even his 3 consecutive Wimbledon QFs speaks to his proficiency on the surface. That he never won it (in an era when the grass was faster and you had a slew of grass-court/fast-court specialists) doesn't mean he was somehow totally out of his element.

He "only won three *** majors on a surface that suited his game?" They all suited his game, hence his Slam titles (and additional finals) on every surface. Add to that what you point out - his better performance in Davis cup on indoor, hard, and carpet court, which were generally pretty fast back then. How did he do this on surfaces which didn't suit his game? Two grass majors, two hard court majors, 1 additional grass Slam final, 2 additional hard court Slam finals, 4 hard court Masters, other non-Slam/Masters titles on hard and carpet, big Davis Cup wins on fast indoor, hard, and carpet. The record speaks or itself. Nothing was totally foreign to him or didn't suit his game.
 
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Mustard

Bionic Poster
I prefer Mats Wilander, personally. However, you can make a strong case for any of Wilander, Edberg and Becker being better than the other two. Their biggest strength of each of the three stands out a lot, Wilander's brain, Edberg's movement and Becker's power.
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
Interesting comments and recollections guys, thanks.

Surprised that Edberg is winning this poll quite so easily - must be due to his wins at the Big W.
 

California

Semi-Pro
Edberg was a great athlete. Sampras was even greater. And, there was nothing wrong with the pace of Edberg's serve. It allowed him to make his first volley closer to the net on first serve, and he had one of the best second serves of all time.

That is the spin the media would say... and it may have been true earlier in his career, later his lack of pace on his serve allowed players like Agassi, Courier, Enqvist, etc to jump on his serve and give him impossible returns to deal with. He would kind of get punished on his serve and get broken because he couldn't threaten them with pace like Pete could. This is one of the reasons why his results dropped off his last couple of years on the tour. It was tough to watch and I am one of the biggest Edberg fans out there...
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Wilander's just before my time, so won't offer an opinion on OP

There's something about his record that's always puzzled me - maybe the people who followed his career in real time have an explanation

They all suited his game, hence his Slam titles (and additional finals) on every surface. Add to that what you point out - his better performance in Davis cup on indoor, hard, and carpet court, which were generally pretty fast back then. How did he do this on surfaces which didn't suit his game? Two grass majors, two hard court majors, 1 additional grass Slam final, 2 additional hard court Slam finals, 4 hard court Masters, other non-Slam/Masters titles on hard and carpet, big Davis Cup wins on fast indoor, hard, and carpet. The record speaks or itself. Nothing was totally foreign to him or didn't suit his game.

His carpet court record is downright poor for a player of his standing. 65-50 @ 56.5% winning rate. Two titles. Extrapolating, his indoor hardcourt record comes to 44-20 @ 68.8% by contrast

He had his moments on grass. He was proficient on 'fast' hard courts - Cincinnati being one of his most successful events. He was a good volleyer, clever passer and superb lobber

There seems no reason for him to have faltered on carpet to the extent he did

Why?
 

Olli Jokinen

Hall of Fame
That is the spin the media would say... and it may have been true earlier in his career, later his lack of pace on his serve allowed players like Agassi, Courier, Enqvist, etc to jump on his serve and give him impossible returns to deal with. He would kind of get punished on his serve and get broken because he couldn't threaten them with pace like Pete could. This is one of the reasons why his results dropped off his last couple of years on the tour. It was tough to watch and I am one of the biggest Edberg fans out there...

I don't think that Sampras was a better athlete, and he was NOT faster. He did have superior serve and groundies. Edberg's serve lost its sting later in his career because of his back injury which is also why he was suddenly a step slower to the net.
 

California

Semi-Pro
I don't think that Sampras was a better athlete, and he was NOT faster. He did have superior serve and groundies. Edberg's serve lost its sting later in his career because of his back injury which is also why he was suddenly a step slower to the net.

I agree with all you said other than Sampras having the better groundies. He had the better forehand, not the better backhand.
 

Olli Jokinen

Hall of Fame
I agree with all you said other than Sampras having the better groundies. He had the better forehand, not the better backhand.

True, Edberg did have the better backhand. What I meant was, that Sampras was more dangerous in baseline rallies.
 
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speedysteve

Legend
That is the spin the media would say... and it may have been true earlier in his career, later his lack of pace on his serve allowed players like Agassi, Courier, Enqvist, etc to jump on his serve and give him impossible returns to deal with. He would kind of get punished on his serve and get broken because he couldn't threaten them with pace like Pete could. This is one of the reasons why his results dropped off his last couple of years on the tour. It was tough to watch and I am one of the biggest Edberg fans out there...
Every dog has his day..
 
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