Mats Wilander vs Stefan Edberg: Greatest Career?

Higher on the GOAT List

  • Mats Wilander

    Votes: 18 24.0%
  • Stefan Edberg

    Votes: 57 76.0%

  • Total voters
    75

Ramon

Legend
They're pretty much equal. Edberg leads most of the stats but Wilander has 7 Slams to 6, leads head 2 head, and generally had a more well rounded game. Others have already pointed out that he won 3 Slams on clay while Edberg never did, and he dominated 1988 while Edberg never had a multi-Slam season.

Verdict: Wilander by the slimmest of margins (but I'd still mute his commentary on TV)
Very good points. To me it's pretty much a tie. On Edberg's side, he won Wimbledon which Wilander never got past the quarters, and Edberg got to the finals of the FO. I was a fan of both of them, but I think I liked Edberg's style a little better. He was the flashier player and he played some of the most incredible points in tennis.
 

barone

Rookie
Wilander serve:

Wilander had great stats for 1st serve percentage (75%) and DF (3%).

But often he seemed to just use his serve to get the point started (Leconte FO final being case in point).

Why, at 6'0", did Wilander not develop his serve into more of a weapon?

Leconte had a "deadly" attack on secondserves. Wilander gave him one or two for the whole match, smile
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Good point. Yes, he did mix it up a lot. No rhythm for Lendl.

Mats was very, very good at that. He did it to McEnroe, Connors....he could break up their rhythm and pacing with no ill effect on himself. That's not an easy thing for a baseliner to do. I always thought he was very steady, crafty and clever. Was bummed when he reached #1, only to plummet a year later :-(
 

TomTennis495

Professional
The two Swedish greats of the 80's. Who ranks higher on the GOAT list?

Grand Slams
Wilander:
7 titles
4 finals, 3 SF
3 Australian Open, 3 Roland Garros, 1 US Open, 0 Wimbledon
2 Hard, 2 Clay, 2 Grass

Edberg:
6 titles
5 finals, 8 SF
2 Australian Open, 2 Wimbledon, 2 US Open, 0 Roland Garros
2 Hard, 4 Grass, 0 Clay

Career Titles
Wilander: 33
Edberg: 41

Match Record
Wilander: 571-222 (72%)
Edberg: 806-270 (75%)

Masters/Grand Prix
Wilander: 8 titles, 7 finals
Edberg: 8 titles, 12 finals

World Championship
Wilander: 0 titles, 1 final, 7 appearances
Edberg: 1 title, 1 final, 9 appearances

Ranking
Wilander:
20 Weeks at #1
#1 in 1988
Edberg:
72 weeks at #1
#1 in 1990, 1991

Head to Head
Wilander 11-9 Edberg

Who ranks higher among the greats?

Went with Edberg though my heart wanted to say Mats. Wasnt there a third Swede coming up at the same time these 2 broke it open?
 

Olli Jokinen

Hall of Fame
In the mid 80s there were Jonas B. Svensson, Henrik Sundstrom, Mikael Pernfors, Joakim Nystrom, Anders Jarryd...any of those... Many of were ranked in the top 10 at some point but none of them won a GS (in singles)

Kent Carlsson was probably the closest, but was forced into retirement due to injuries. A beast on clay.
 
Who did their main rivals fear more in general? I would have to say Edberg. So as their achievements are extremely close that swings it to Edberg for me. Neither answer is wrong though. @helterskelter, arent you a big fan of both Edberg and Wilander? Do you have an opinion.
 

barone

Rookie
Who did their main rivals fear more in general? I would have to say Edberg. So as their achievements are extremely close that swings it to Edberg for me. Neither answer is wrong though. @helterskelter, arent you a big fan of both Edberg and Wilander? Do you have an opinion.
Ask McEnroe and Becker when they played Wilander in Paris. They had absolute 0% chans of wining.
 
Ask McEnroe and Becker when they played Wilander in Paris. They had absolute 0% chans of wining.

McEnroe in 84 would have beaten Wilander had they met at RG I am pretty sure. In general yes they would probably lose to Wilander at RG, but they would probably lose at every single RG even if Wilander were not in the draw, so it isnt exactly a big deal to them.
 
Wilander beat McEnroe at 1983 RG and again at 1985 RG, only losing 1 set total.

But you think McEnroe would have won in 1984?!?

Absolutely. 84 McEnroe was way better than 83 or 85 McEnroe anyway; even 80 and 81 McEnroe are much better than those years, especialy 85, and 84 is by far the best McEnroe ever. Wilander wasnt that good in 84 either. McEnroe was barely beaten, and should have beat, by an on fire Lendl who is clearly better than Wilander in 84 ever would have been.
 

barone

Rookie
barone said:
Ask McEnroe and Becker when they played Wilander in Paris. They had absolute 0% chans of wining.


McEnroe in 84 would have beaten Wilander had they met at RG I am pretty sure. In general yes they would probably lose to Wilander at RG, but they would probably lose at every single RG even if Wilander were not in the draw, so it isnt exactly a big deal to them.
Probably? They DID loose, 2 times each
 
Who did their main rivals fear more in general? I would have to say Edberg. So as their achievements are extremely close that swings it to Edberg for me. Neither answer is wrong though. @helterskelter, arent you a big fan of both Edberg and Wilander? Do you have an opinion.

I'm only a big fan of Edberg. I was a fan of Wilander but not to anything like the same extent. I was often very disappointed when Edberg lost to him, so I wasn't indifferent between them at all. I think it's close in career terms. Edberg certainly had a (somewhat) longer career and did better in minor events, but partly because he tried harder in them. And both were very inconsistent. Edberg also had a clearly higher peak. Wilander had a clearly better strategic brain.
 
I'm only a big fan of Edberg. I was a fan of Wilander but not to anything like the same extent. I was often very disappointed when Edberg lost to him, so I wasn't indifferent between them at all. I think it's close in career terms. Edberg certainly had a (somewhat) longer career and did better in minor events, but partly because he tried harder in them. And both were very inconsistent. Edberg also had a clearly higher peak. Wilander had a clearly better strategic brain.

Do you think people tend to underrate Wilander due to some of the perceptions of his game and personality aka boring, not as offensive, steady. That plus he has proved to be clearly unlikeable in his post tennis career. Which is the opposite of say Courier who was thoroughly unlikeable during his tennis career, but has become a sweetheart and true gentleman in his post tennis career.
 
I'm only a big fan of Edberg. I was a fan of Wilander but not to anything like the same extent. I was often very disappointed when Edberg lost to him, so I wasn't indifferent between them at all. I think it's close in career terms. Edberg certainly had a (somewhat) longer career and did better in minor events, but partly because he tried harder in them. And both were very inconsistent. Edberg also had a clearly higher peak. Wilander had a clearly better strategic brain.

Pretty much agree on all of that, but just curious do you think Edberg had the higher peak level even on clay, or would you consider clay the one exception?
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
Do you think people tend to underrate Wilander due to some of the perceptions of his game and personality aka boring, not as offensive, steady. That plus he has proved to be clearly unlikeable in his post tennis career. Which is the opposite of say Courier who was thoroughly unlikeable during his tennis career, but has become a sweetheart and true gentleman in his post tennis career.
Courier didn't seem that unlikable during his career. He was a class act.
 

70後

Hall of Fame
Courier didn't seem that unlikable during his career. He was a class act.

Courier once told a story of a fan coming up to him while he was at dinner wanting an autograph, and he said he signed it and threw it on the ground. That kind of class act.

As for Courier becoming a sweetheart after his tennis, I have posted this before, here is Djokovic personally correcting Courier on the pronunciation of his name while Courier puts on the "slow child who doesn't get it" act.


Typical US commentator arrogance. They will mangle up the names of players they despise with a sneering, cavalier tone.

Read the comments on that video. Everybody is disgusted with Courier's behaviour.

Oh but when Courier interviews Federer, the adoring, rapturous look on his face while attentively treating every word dropping from the lips of Fed as the finest pearls is impossible to tolerate.
 

HarveyPitnik

Professional
Yes, very smart.
I started to follow tennis in late eighties and Wilander was my nr. 1 idol. I used to consider him very clever, smart player. Then I saw 2 or 3 of his matches against Miloslav Mecir and Mats was like a total fool in those matches - outsmarted time and time again!? :confused:
Mecir was not able to troll other top players, like Lendl, in similar vein at all.

I learned to like and respect Edberg too, a little later. His net game was at times simply mindblowing!

These players are hard to compare. They had very different kind of game and career (not that different kind of girlfriend, though! :laughing: ) In that respect Edberg stands out of the Swedish greats of the time that he had very different game than basically any other Swede. On the other hand ATP-tour was full of wannabe-Wilanders those days.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
I started to follow tennis in late eighties and Wilander was my nr. 1 idol. I used to consider him very clever, smart player. Then I saw 2 or 3 of his matches against Miloslav Mecir and Mats was like a total fool in those matches - outsmarted time and time again!? :confused:
Mecir was not able to troll other top players, like Lendl, in similar vein at all.
Wilander stated in a video interview that he hated playing Mecir more than anyone else.

(There is a good reason that Mecir was called the "Swede-killer.")
 
Aa equal as it can get. One of the rare cases where the guy with one slam less could nevertheless be considered greater. However, mats had the better “best year” and also won slams on every surface, even though Edberg came closer to having a CGS. Mats leads the H2H even though very close. If Edberg was leading H2H I would be inclined to give it to Edberg. As things stand Mats wins but as close as possible.
 

NicoMK

Hall of Fame
Found this great video tonight, recently uploaded on YT. Never seen that one with such a great picture quality.

One of Mats' greatest achievements. He beat Edberg in five sets in the semis that year.

Enjoy :)

 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
And yet, why did Mats win 7 slams, and Mecir zero?

Why could Mats outsmart Lendl, and Mecir couldn’t?

Always fascinating how match ups play out.
I just meant in terms of being crafty and outsmarting Wilander when they played against each other. Obviously Wilander was a far better player.
 

Pebbles10

New User
You forget one thing and that is Davis Cup, alla other players in the swedish team in the 80s said that Mats was the guy who made the whole team better. He took care of the others. For me Wilander will be nr 1 between him and Edberg. More slams, better H2H.
 

Rui Lopes

Rookie
Just some numbers that put up this discussion for some people...The truth is: If Wilander never played tennis , nobody would miss anything that he gave to tennis (he his probably the biggest pusher in history) , but Edberg still is an Icon to millions of fans arround the world , and an Icon to the majority of tennis players in the 80´s , 90´s and 00´s...The best serve and volley player ever and the best sportsman ever.
Saying or even thinking that Wilander was better that Edberg it´s an offense to tennis...
But dumb people , still look at the Grand Slam wins and think that it´s everything in tennis. Ranking the best tennis players in history by Grand Slam Titles only works for donkeys...
Watch a video of the two playng at their best tennis , and if you can´t figure out who´s the best ,by an huge difference than you are just stupid...

Happy tennis for everyone...
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
Just some numbers that put up this discussion for some people...The truth is: If Wilander never played tennis , nobody would miss anything that he gave to tennis (he his probably the biggest pusher in history) , but Edberg still is an Icon to millions of fans arround the world , and an Icon to the majority of tennis players in the 80´s , 90´s and 00´s...The best serve and volley player ever and the best sportsman ever.
Saying or even thinking that Wilander was better that Edberg it´s an offense to tennis...
But dumb people , still look at the Grand Slam wins and think that it´s everything in tennis. Ranking the best tennis players in history by Grand Slam Titles only works for donkeys...
Watch a video of the two playng at their best tennis , and if you can´t figure out who´s the best ,by an huge difference than you are just stupid...

Happy tennis for everyone...

Wilander had an 11-9 head to head record against Edberg. Usually, the better player is the one that wins more matches directly against the other, especially when that person also has more Grand Slam singles titles as well. So there is a legitimate discussion to be had. Both guys were #1 and are Hall of Famers on most people's list of the top 20 all time greats.

Look, I get it. Edberg had a prettier, more exciting game to watch. His Wimbledon matches against Becker are legendary, as is the US Open he won in 1992 with those 5 set wins over Lendl and Chang in the quarters and semifinals, followed by the 4 set win over Sampras in the final. Those are the things that made him more memorable than the things Wilander accomplished.

I was a huge fan of both players when I was a teenager. I had posters of both of them on my walls. I emulated aspects of both their games into mine. For some reason, Wilander just happened to be my favorite.

Saying that Edberg was clearly better or that people are stupid to lean towards Wilander...

 

asifallasleep

Hall of Fame
Just some numbers that put up this discussion for some people...The truth is: If Wilander never played tennis , nobody would miss anything that he gave to tennis (he his probably the biggest pusher in history) , but Edberg still is an Icon to millions of fans arround the world , and an Icon to the majority of tennis players in the 80´s , 90´s and 00´s...The best serve and volley player ever and the best sportsman ever.
Saying or even thinking that Wilander was better that Edberg it´s an offense to tennis...
But dumb people , still look at the Grand Slam wins and think that it´s everything in tennis. Ranking the best tennis players in history by Grand Slam Titles only works for donkeys...
Watch a video of the two playng at their best tennis , and if you can´t figure out who´s the best ,by an huge difference than you are just stupid...

Happy tennis for everyone...
I grew up watching both these guys and liked them both. However, i'm only in awe of Edberg....................Edberg was special.
Mats was a very good player but i never thought I was seeing anything exceptional. Matt's was kinda the light version of Borg.
Heck, a similar player to Mats would be Lleyton Hewitt. If you go only by slam titles, Mats would win by a landslide. However most
including myself would say that Hewitt was by far a much better player than Mats.
 

Rui Lopes

Rookie
Wilander had an 11-9 head to head record against Edberg. Usually, the better player is the one that wins more matches directly against the other, especially when that person also has more Grand Slam singles titles as well. So there is a legitimate discussion to be had. Both guys were #1 and are Hall of Famers on most people's list of the top 20 all time greats.

Look, I get it. Edberg had a prettier, more exciting game to watch. His Wimbledon matches against Becker are legendary, as is the US Open he won in 1992 with those 5 set wins over Lendl and Chang in the quarters and semifinals, followed by the 4 set win over Sampras in the final. Those are the things that made him more memorable than the things Wilander accomplished.

I was a huge fan of both players when I was a teenager. I had posters of both of them on my walls. I emulated aspects of both their games into mine. For some reason, Wilander just happened to be my favorite.

Saying that Edberg was clearly better or that people are stupid to lean towards Wilander...

Never said that Wilander wasen´t great...Is on the list of the best ever for shure and i liked him too...But Edberg was better , no doubt about it...
If you wanna go with the ono on one recorde , than the discussion about who´s better , Federer or Nadal , it´s long over...Nadal is the better guy by far than...
Tennis it´s not about a record you have against one particular guy , it´s about playing against the world´s best players and beat them all...
Being a fan of Wilander it´s not stupid , hey i´m one of them , but not knowing that Edberg is better is...I stick with that...
 

Rui Lopes

Rookie
I grew up watching both these guys and liked them both. However, i'm only in awe of Edberg....................Edberg was special.
Mats was a very good player but i never thought I was seeing anything exceptional. Matt's was kinda the light version of Borg.
Heck, a similar player to Mats would be Lleyton Hewitt. If you go only by slam titles, Mats would win by a landslide. However most
including myself would say that Hewitt was by far a much better player than Mats.
I just don´t agree on the Hewitt thing...I only had success when tennis was dying in terms of players quality...As soon as good players started to come again , being federer the leading guy , Hewitt wasn´t able to do s-hit anymore...He only one for a bit and on a time where ATP had a new number one every two weeks , and with guys that couldn´t win Slams...That was the worst tennis in history...A bit like Rodick too...Guys that are too below to be mentioned...
In the 80´s and early 90´s the roaster was stronger than ever...To win a Slam , you always had to pass throught at least two guys that have a few Slams on their pockets , instead of just cruising to the final...
Edberg was the Special Guy for shure...
 

tonylg

Legend
We will never again see players like Edberg and Becker. Some people think they were nothing but servebots and think that's great, but I don't.
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
....
However most including myself would say that Hewitt was by far a much better player than Mats.

Hmm, I don't agree with the Hewitt comparison with Wilander at all either. Sure, they were both baseliners... but what did Hewitt ever have that's better than Wilander in any phase of the game? Wilander was a taller athlete, just as quick, just as fit. From a stroke production aspect, I think Wilander's entire game (forehand, backhand, volley, serve) was tighter than Hewitt's. Mats was a better tactician, as mentally tough, and had a calmer disposition under pressure than Hewitt. And that's aside from the whole fact that Wilander won more Grand Slams in one season than Hewitt did in his entire career.
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
We will never again see players like Edberg and Becker. Some people think they were nothing but servebots and think that's great, but I don't.

I've always thought that Federer was a better version of Edberg. They are both about the same size physically and have similar athletic abilities. Early in his career, Fed used to attack the net relentlessly like Edberg, and it was easy to see why Stefan was his favorite player growing up. Watch Fed's infamous Wimbledon matchup with Sampras for that style of play. However, Fed has much better groudstrokes, particularly on the forehand side, and he drifted to more of an all-court player or power baseliner as the courts slowed down and the poly strings helped other baseliners pass net rushers from anywhere.

Becker always seemed like a giant back in the day. However, he was only 6'3 and about 190lbs. Guys like Roanic and Berettini outsize Becker, not to mention some of the actual servebot guys on tour now that are nearly 7 feet tall. I didn't like Becker back then (since I was an Edberg, Lendl, Wilander fan), but I do respect the killer attitude he brought to the game. I actually think he was an underachiever, having distracted himself with fame and wealth (and chicks in broom closets).
 

tonylg

Legend
I've always thought that Federer was a better version of Edberg. They are both about the same size physically and have similar athletic abilities. Early in his career, Fed used to attack the net relentlessly like Edberg, and it was easy to see why Stefan was his favorite player growing up. Watch Fed's infamous Wimbledon matchup with Sampras for that style of play. However, Fed has much better groudstrokes, particularly on the forehand side, and he drifted to more of an all-court player or power baseliner as the courts slowed down and the poly strings helped other baseliners pass net rushers from anywhere.

Becker always seemed like a giant back in the day. However, he was only 6'3 and about 190lbs. Guys like Roanic and Berettini outsize Becker, not to mention some of the actual servebot guys on tour now that are nearly 7 feet tall. I didn't like Becker back then (since I was an Edberg, Lendl, Wilander fan), but I do respect the killer attitude he brought to the game. I actually think he was an underachiever, having distracted himself with fame and wealth (and chicks in broom closets).

I agree with every word, except the part about not liking Becker. My coach spent much of the early 80s trying to change my serve and get me to follow through down my left hand side (I'm a righty). I used to pronate really strongly and almost smash the racquet into my shins on follow through, instead of the classic down the left follow through. Then a young redhead guy won Queens serving the same way and when I told my coach (who I'm still friends with), he said when that young German nobody won Wimbledon, he'd stop trying to "fix" my serve. The rest is history.
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
Close but I go Edberg.

Both are missing one slam, Edberg lost in the final of the FO in 5 sets, Mats never made the semifinals at Wimbledon.

Edberg beat former GOAT in a slam final, Sampras. Beat former Wimbledon GOAT in two Wimbledon finals, Becker. Beat former "father of the modern game"in a slam final, Lendl.

Won 3 slam doubles titles as well... game, set, match, Edberg.
Becker was never Wimbledon GOAT. Borg and Laver were both better, and Sampras and Federer have since surpassed him.
 
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