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Swedish mindset proving to be popular courtside

Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge anticipate.
by Mark Hodgkinson
Friday 8 May 2015

Sweden has an illustrious past in tennis but remains a power in the sport as the fashionable country to provide courtside expertise...

The sight of Andy Murray wearing lederhosen on a Bavarian clay court was a good day for British tennis, for photo caption writers and for Germany's tourist board, too. Murray's victory costume in Munich also signified that it had been a day that had enhanced the standing of Swedish coaches. For Murray had won his first title on the surface after his first tournament together with Jonas Bjorkman, one of a growing number of Swedes who are coaching at the highest level. 

If the last couple of years have seen the trend of the super-coach, the height of fashion in men's tennis now is to have a Swede on your team. Just the other day, Borna Coric, a Croatian teenager who has already beaten Rafa Nadal and Murray, announced that he would be linking up with Thomas Johansson, a former Australian Open champion. For the past year or so, Roger Federer has been working with his boyhood hero Stefan Edberg, with one of their highlights being Federer's run to last summer's Wimbledon final when he extended Novak Djokovic to five pulsating sets. And there is another Swiss-Swedish collaboration at the top of the men's game - Stan Wawrinka's association with Magnus Norman, which brought Wawrinka a first major at last year's Australian Open. 

Consider, also, how Lavtia's Ernests Gulbis has turned to Thomas Enqvist as he tries to recapture some of the form that took him into his first Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros last year. It's true that it's not a new thing to have Swedish coaches at the top of the sport - when Federer won his first Wimbledon title in 2003, he had a Swede in Peter Lundgren alongside, and Thomas Hogstedt has worked with Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens and Simona Halep. But there have never been this number of Swedes at the top of the sport. Sweden is a tennis nation with a glorious past, with the former greats of Bjorn Borg, Edberg and Mats Wilander. While it's true that they don't have any A-list players at present - there are none in the top 100, and just a couple in the top 200, in Elias Ymer and Christian Lindell - their past champions are now starting to reappear on the scene as coaches. 'What happened to Swedish tennis?' the Wall Street Journal asked recently, but the nation remains a power in the sport, if only as the country that produces courtside expertise. 

It will be fascinating to watch how Coric fares with Johansson this season, with the pair due to start working together at a tournament in Nice in readiness for Roland Garros. "Thomas had been around on the ATP Tour for so many years and he has the experience and knowledge to help me achieve my goals," disclosed Coric, while Johansson said: "Borna has been one of the leaders of the new generation that we have all been waiting for in men's tennis. His energy and tennis capabilities are impeccable and sometimes I forget that he is only 18 years old. We will work on all aspects of his game and he will hopefully continue improving in the years to follow." 

Murray, who continues to employ Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo, has a theory on why Swedes makes good coaches - they have a calmness to them, as well as a strong work ethic. "A lot of the Swedes turned out to be pretty good coaches," he has said. "I think they have a good mindset - a lot of them are very calm individuals but extremely hard workers." 

 


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