by Linus Sunnervik
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Swedish tennis is still alive. A wave of former Swedish professionals are on the Tour, as coaches for several of the world's best players. The tennis world is talking about the Swedish phenomenon. - It is a completely unique situation, says Stefan Edberg.
Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer during a hitting session at the French Open
When Roger Federer started his cooperation with Stefan Edberg his tennis has reborn. With Magnus Norman, eternal promise Stanislas Wawrinka has become a Grand Slam winner. Since Andy Murray chose Jonas Bjorkman, he has won ten straight matches.
In addition, Thomas Johansson and Joakim Nyström have been given the task of refining two of the world's greatest tennis talents this summer.
Tennis world has been amazed by the wave of the Swedish coaches. Three weeks ago Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport dedicated a special to explaining the Swedish model. On Monday, Sky Sports Uk analyzed the phenomenon: "Now, Sweden is better known for being behind the world's best coaches. They put a huge emphasis on quality, concentration, attitude, respect and energy that transforms good players to great champions," reads the article.
Stefan Edberg has noted the developments. - It is truly unique. One can make an analogy with the 1980s when we had five players among the world's top ten. Right now there are many Swedes - more than there have ever been, he says.
"I have been in his situation"
But why is the world's most coveted tennis coach from Sweden? The new trend explains a part of the puzzle. In the last decade the world's top tennis players have increasingly recruited former top players as coaches. Besides the Swedes, Boris Becker, Michael Chang, Ivan Ljubicic and Goran Ivanisevic are in the top 10 players training teams.
- I think that the trend started when Andy Murray took Ivan Lendl in as coach (2011). Old top players know what it is about. In my case Roger wanted to have certain special characteristics in his team, to develop his offensive game. But above all, I have the same experience. I've been in his situation, said Edberg.
- Edberg, Jonas Björkman, Magnus Norman and Thomas Johansson are big names. They have been terribly talented and have made the journey to the top. They know what is required and will be very attractive as leaders for an ambitious player who wants to take the step from being 50 in the world to become a top player, he says.
"Extremely hard working"
The fact remains: there are hundreds of former top players to choose from for today's stars. Is it a coincidence that three of them are coaching some of the world's best players?
Andy Murray has his view of the Swedish mentality. - Many Swedes are very good coaches because they have a good attitude to the sport. They are calm as individuals and extremely hard working, he tells the Telegraph.
Jonas Björkman, employed by Murray three weeks ago, points to the fact that the Swedish tennis reputation lives on. - We still have a good reputation thanks to the successes of the 1980s and 90s. They came through good organization and we had amazing coaches even at the time. The players know that we are very serious, and trust it, says Bjorkman. - I think what Murray says is true. The Swedish mentality has always been our strength. There is a humbleness in success.
Thomas Enqvist, who trained Fernando Verdasco and Ernests Gulbis in the past year, is of the same opinion. - A player wants a former top player who knows what it takes. Then I think the Swedish mentality is attractive. We stand for hard work, accuracy and humbleness, he says.
Have seen shocking examples
Today, often the top players want to work with several different coaches. Fidde Rosengren has seen shocking examples of coaches who rip their players out and refuse to cooperate.
- The Swedes have always been team players, not only when it comes to Davis Cup. We know how to build a good team and get up team spirit. We are not gangsters lurking players on the money. And so we are damn loyal to the players we're working for. We are prepared to walk over corpses as leaders, he says.
Stefan Edberg believes, however, that the Swedish wave may be an exceptional case. - Will it still be like this in five years? I am doubtful. Right now it's pretty unique.
But he believes that, in the long term, Swedish tennis can benefit from this. - For me, it has become an updated knowledge of what is happening on the Tour today. There is a big difference being on the Tour compared to being at home. You see the changes along the way, said Edberg.
- Now we take the knowledge home with us and pass it on to our Swedish talents. It feels like it can have such a positive impact, he says.
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