In a month in which Stockholm hasn’t seen too many minutes of sunshine, I spent 10 days close to the lights cast onto the tennis court inside The Royal Tennis Hall. Yes, it was that time of the year again, one in which I add pictures to my collections of tennis albums on social media, and moments to my collection of tennis memories. If Stockholm Open 2016 came and went faster than I wanted. Counting my days from one tennis tournament to the other, the excitement grew stronger and stronger as the first meeting was getting near.
This year’s draw was a pretty amazing one: Juan Martin del Potro from Argentina, Gael Monfils, French man soon to make it to the World Tour Finals in London, Jack Sock, last year’s finalist, John Isner one of the protagonists of the longest tennis match in history, Melo/Soares, top doubles team from Brazil, Robert Lindstedt, long favourite of mine since he was playing in the same team with Romanian Horia Tecau, and many other tennis players worth seeing. Unfortunately, 2016 was the first year when no Romanian player came here, either due to injury or different choices. Nevertheless, once the tennis started, it all became a rollercoaster ride.
One beautiful match that I couldn’t entirely see was Marcos Baghdatis vs Kevin Anderson. Baghdatis won in Stockholm in 2009 and his best results include a final in Australian Open in 2006. This time the player from South Africa was stronger, and Anderson went on to the next round.
A nice surprise came from one of home’s favourites, Michael Ymer, who stormed past a very frustrated and out of pace Fernando Verdasco with 6-2, 6-1. The young Swede bowed to Ivo Karlovic in the second round, another winner of Stockholm Open, this time from 2007.
The first round saw a blockbuster of a tennis match: Juan Martin del Potro vs John Isner. This one was some sort of clash of the giants: two very tall tennis players, with a fast serve and a good game. It was a match worthy of an ATP final, but ranking made it so that they met really early in the tournament.
Stockholm Open sweetheart Grigor Dimitrov (I am calling him that because he is very loved by the Swedish crowd), winner in 2013 and finalist in 2014, made his way to the semifinals just to bow to del Potro in two sets. It is a bit sad when two of your favourites are playing against each other. Dimitrov has a beautiful and elegant game, with a one handed backhand, while DelPo is, as many tennis publications call him, a gentle giant, olympic bronze (2012) and silver (2016) medalist.
On the other side of the draw, young Alexander Zverev made it quite hard for Jack Sock to advance to his second Stockholm Open final, but in the end the American triumphed. He met Juan Martin del Potro in the final, and last Sunday the Argentinian tennis player lifted his first trophy since January 2014, after battling injuries and surgeries.
In doubles things went horribly wrong, in a way, for the seeded teams. Robert Lindstedt, playing with Aisam Qureshi fell in the first round against an all-Swedish team: Arvidsson/Simonsson. This team lost in the next round to the finalists Pavic/Venus. Coming strong all the way to the final, on the other side of the draw, were the Swedish Ymer brothers.
One by one they took out very strong teams: the 3rd seeds in the first round (Matkowski/Rojer), Fleming/Lipsky in the second, both good doubles specialists, the second seeds Bopanna/Huey
in the semis, just to take home the trophy in Sunday’s doubles final. And they made it on the main draw due to a wild card. How cool is that? And besides the fact that it was a great performance, they also played some amazing tennis, you could see their desire to win and their “nothing to lose” motivation in every point that they played.
What more am I to say about this? I spent hours watching tennis and I spent hours in the company of some of the same, and some new amazing people that make this event worth attending, and turn it into a real tennis experience, both on court and backstage. Lots of amazing points, good fun, beautiful tennis, hard work and team work. Looking forward for the Summer and Båstad now, and searching for a tennis tournament to attend in Spring, since the one in Bucharest got canceled. Over and out from If Stockholm Open. Game, set, match, championship: Juan Martin del Potro, Elias Ymer/Mikael Ymer.