12:54 PM GMT November 06, 2019
#NextGenATP player Mikael Ymer wasn’t born when fellow Swede Stefan Edberg concluded his legendary career in 1996, but the ATP Tour legend has kept a close watch on the rising star.
Speaking after his win on Tuesday against Norwegian Casper Ruud at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, Ymer said there’s a possibility the pair may work together during the preseason. Although nothing has been confirmed, the former World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings extended the offer last month at the Intrum Stockholm Open.
“We have talked about it before. We just never had the chance to make it happen,” Ymer said. “He’s one of my biggest idols. I said that I would love to come [train] in the preseason if we both have the time. He said [I’m] welcome any time. I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m going to give him a call very soon.”
Read More: Ymer Maintains Top Form In Milan
The 21-year-old has enjoyed a breakout year that’s included four ATP Challenger Tour titles and leaping more than 180 spots in the ATP Rankings to his current standing of No. 74. But Ymer said he needed to strengthen his offense as he prepares to become a regular staple in ATP Tour events next season. He’s hopeful that Edberg can provide guidance because “there’s no one else to learn volleys as good as you can from Stefan.”
Edberg has been aware of Ymer’s talent for years and invited him to his club in Växjö to play an exhibition match as a child. The six-time Grand Slam champion has continued to follow his progress and offer encouragement, along with other legends of Swedish tennis like Bjorn Borg.
“I haven’t really had a chance to speak to a lot of the other [former Swedish players]. I would love to. But out of all the athletes that I’ve met, Stefan is the best, the coolest,” Ymer said. “The way he carries himself and how humble he is after being one of the biggest legends is inspiring for me. He treats everyone the same and he's always been so nice not only to me, but to my family.
“[Their support] is inspiring and it gives me energy. Instead of feeling pressure, I’m more like, if they can make it out of Sweden, [I] can too. I know it's going to take a lot of work, a lot of sacrifices.”
Read More: Ymer: 'I'm Not Only Playing For Me'
Although Sweden has produced plenty of players who have reached the upper echelons of the ATP Rankings, Ymer is the first Swede to crack the Top 100 since Robin Soderling in 2011. The country is eager for another champion and media outlets regularly ask if he can become the next Edberg or Borg.
But Ymer is running his own race. He prefers a modest and practical approach, focussing on recording more tour-level wins next season and building his game for a long career. If his rapid rise this year is any indication, it’s a goal he’s capable of achieving.
“It's great for tennis that we've had legends. But let's try to do our best without comparing because I think it would be very, very silly and it's looking too far ahead,” Ymer said. “[Champions] don’t grow on trees. To do what they have done is just something to dream about.
“I just see it as let me learn and let me do my best. If I can get even 10 per cent of what they have achieved, I would be happy. I will keep striving to do my best.”