The Ymer brothers, Elias, 20, and Mikael, 18, won their first ATP doubles title together this past weekend at their home tournament in Sweden, the 2016 If Stockholm Open.
Not only that – their opponents were top (4th) seeds, they beat them with 2 breadsticks (6-1, 6-1) and with efficiency in 51 minutes, and they were the first Swedes to win doubles at home since 1998.
Their debut as a team also places them in the winning company of decorated brother-brother doubles teams like the Bryans (Bob & Mike) and the Murrays (Jaime & Andy), playing for the USA and the UK respectively and holding several Slam titles, Davis Cup titles, Olympic medals, and a couple of OBEs between them.
I am excite.
The Ymer brothers’ picture here amuses me for a combination of reasons (beyond my customary excitement that lately, talented athletes of color are consistently making significant incursions into a historically exclusionary sport, past and current champions and top players of color - we don’t even need to name names; I know you know who they are - notwithstanding).
In tennis, Sweden is better known for producing grand champions like Bjorn Borg
and players like Robin Soderling
the latter of whom single-handedly ruined the 2009 Roland Garros tournament for tens of millions of Rafafans.
Moreover, a tournament producing a homegrown champion is, comparatively speaking, a statistically rare event (with the possible exception of the Barcelona Open, when it’s a startling exception when a Spaniard doesn’t win and yet more exceptional this past decade if that Spaniard isn’t named Rafa).
As a result, the officiating officials tend generally to look a *whole lot more* excited about it – as they did here at the 2015 US Open Boys Final,
where, because finalists Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul are both from the US, the host nation was guaranteed an American champion.
Look at the faces of the dudes in the jackets! Such cheer! Many ceremony!
By contrast, we could view the faces of the officials in the photo with the Ymer brothers as merely weary with the stress & fatigue of producing a tournament that would receive a steadily increasing level of press throughout as a player missing from the circuit for three years of injury rehab and who was granted a Wild Card would end up tournament champion, simultaneously taking his first title since 2014.
(You see what I did there? We are thrilled to see him back! ¡Vamos, Juan Martin!)
We could also consider a history of cultural reserve in the host country (Borg has always been known as the Ice to McEnroe’s Fire for a reason) and that, given that the Ymer brothers are so young both chronologically and in tennis years, the hometown officials want to give them time to naturally mature as players and resist the tendency to over-hype them (“17 Slams! Next year!1!”) as novelty-hungry fans, and sometimes even long-time authorities in the sport, can be wont to do.
And/or - considering the history and contrasts we’ve looked at here already - we could also choose a different interpretation, keeping it in mind as we support our groundbreakers going forward, letting it be known that we support them, wielding our leverage thereby.
I’m just saying. After all, how many Wild Cards has Juan Martín received this season? Even as - despite his just having been a silver medalist in singles at the Rio Olympics - there was an actual serious discussion as to whether or not to offer him one for the 2016 US Open (which Grand Slam trophy he’d already taken home in 2009, having had to beat both Rafa and Roger to do it)?
If you’re a fan of Juan Martín, don’t miss the Copa Davis Final US Thanksgiving weekend and his efforts to lead his team to their first victory in their fifth appearance as finalists.
Wall-to-wall tennis for three days, so if you don’t want to talk with that one person (or three people) who showed up for dinner despite a deliberate omission from your invitation list, now you have your built-in excuse.
Since he’s just made an announcement that we’ll have to do without him till next season, making this the first year in over a decade we’ll be bereft of both Roger and Rafa at the year-end World Tour Finals (*sniff*) and since this was to be a generally spirit-lifting commentary, here are some quasi-gratuitous shots of the Rafanator and his academy building - the campaigns did provide us with them, after all - to tide us over till he returns to us live.
We now return everyone to our regularly-scheduled 2016 end-of-year.