During 1992, shorts were shorter, rackets were heavier, and Stefan Edberg was serving to win his final Grand Slam. Defeating Pete Sampras at Flushing Meadows was already a tremendous achievement in the game, but winning three straight five-set matches before that, against Richard Kraijcek, Ivan Lendl, and Michael Chang, was even more impressive.
Swedish Golden Age
Sweden’s love of tennis can be attributed to Borg, who drove public and government investment in the sport. This inspired children to pick up their racquets, which in turn helped Mats Wilander and Edberg become two of Sweden’s greatest players. From 1974 to 1992 there was an impressive amount of Grand Slam success for Swedes; with them winning all four men’s singles trophies in 1988 and Thomas Johansson taking out the 2002 Australian Open. In addition, Robin Soderling also reached the top 4 in rankings and had two French Open finals run-outs. More recently, Jonas Bjorkman has won numerous doubles titles too.
It’s all about Ruud
It is well known by now that Casper Ruud, the current ATP Top Ten player and a true contender in the last year’s French Open, is the son of Christian Ruud who competed in the 1992 US Open. Having already achieved more at 23 than his father did in his lifetime, with his Norwegian records including an 8-time ATP title winner status and a place in the top 30 rankings in singles, he added another feat by defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga professionally at Roland Garros. Afterward, Ruud humbly acknowledged it as part of Tsonga’s retirement celebration. Next up, Ruud takes on Emil Ruusuvuori from Finland. It will not be an easy match as Ruusuvouri is also climbing the rankings and sits just outside the top 50 himself. It is these types of matches that Ruud must learn to win if he is to restore Scandinavian tennis to its former glory, and not only that but win by conserving energy as well.
The future of Scandinavian Tennis
It looks as though Scandinavian tennis may once again be on the up, with the Ymer brothers, Ruusuvuori, Casper Ruud & Holger Rune all showing glimpses of potential. The fight for the Scandinavian tennis throne is ongoing and the resources also play a significant role in it. There are many huge sponsors backing the Nordic stars from big entertainment companies to well-known clothing brands. The field is also a bit uneven, since for example in Finland online casinos can’t sponsor the players at all, which they can do in Sweden for example thanks to the fairly new legislation.
It is this talented quartet that could be responsible for a revival in Grand Slam success – similar to when Borg was reigning supreme in Sweden. We’ve had to wait nearly thirty years since a Scandi player last won a men’s singles title at a major tournament; could the French Open 2023 finally be the decade-defining event?