Jonas Svensson

Born: 21 October 1966 in Göteborg (Västra Götaland)
Height: 1.89 m
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Svensson, my initial favorite player, stood out amidst the incredible generation of Swedish players born in the 1960s in terms of game-style. While most of his compatriots were characterized as solid baseliners with double-handed backhands (unlike Stefan Edberg, a one-handed serve-volleyer), Svensson didn’t conform to neither of two basic categorization of players at the time. His style was marked by flair and improvisation, sudden shifts of the rhythm. Perhaps he was showcasing the finest mastery of the lob among all players born in the ’60s and ’70s. He was generally playing double handed backhand, yet frequently utilized one-handed backhand slices and dropshots, either after the bounce or as volleys, marking his distinctive approach; his transition between two-handed and one-handed backhands as well as between defence and attack  was exceptionally fluent. All his skills are condensed in an incredible Wembley ’86 final when being relatively unknown, he almost defeated Yannick Noah, a top player at the time.
Svensson’s prime performances unfolded on clay (although he never secured a title on this surface) and indoors (where he was applying more offensive attitude), particularly in Paris. Notably, both his French Open semifinal appearances were impressive, especially his first in 1988 as he stunned Ivan Lendl, the double-defending champion, in straight sets in the quarterfinals (he defeated Lendl three times in their five encounters). Two years later, he overcame the future double champion, a 19-year-old Sergi Bruguera, who had earlier eliminated Edberg in the first round, before losing to Andre Agassi.
Svensson found Edberg to be his toughest adversary, facing off ten times, with only one occasion resulting in a deciding set, swiftly won by Edberg nonetheless (they played two four-set finals against each other, 1987 and 1991). Another major upset in Svensson’s career was his straight-sets victory over Boris Becker in the fourth round of the Australian Open ’89. Becker praised Svensson’s impeccable performance, stating: “He played superb tennis over three sets. He didn’t let anything distract him, and he never let me into the match.”
During the years 1990-91, Svensson consecutively reached the semifinals at Paris-Bercy. At the age of 25, he attained the pinnacle of his career, steadily declining over the next three years and gradually losing his good ranking. Given his height, his serve certainly may be considered a weakness. In a curious turn of events, Pete Sampras faced his most humiliating main-level defeat against Svensson, enduring a crushing 0-6, 1-6 loss in Munich ’90. Sampras won another three matches against him without any trouble, including an encounter on Svensson’s beloved Centre Court at Roland Garros.
Career record: 258-204 [ 205 events ]
Career titles: 5
Highest ranking: No. 10
Best GS results:
Australian Open (quarterfinal 1989)
Roland Garros (semifinal 1988, 1990)
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