Tennis: Johansson inspired by Swede success

Thomas Johansson will draw on his inspirational memories of Swedish success as he bids to claim the Australian Open title.

Thomas Johansson will draw on his inspirational memories of Swedish success as he bids to claim the Australian Open title.

Johansson will meet Russia’s Marat Safin in tomorrow’s final and will hope to recreate the Swedish domination down under which saw Mat Wilander and Stefan Edberg win five successive titles between them in the 1980s.

But after those glory days, Swedish tennis has suffered something of a lull - and Johansson is desperate to rekindle interest back home with a victory.

Johansson said: ‘‘Wilander and Edberg, they have always been my favourite players and they were doing really well here in the Australian Open.

‘‘I am a little bit angry because the Swedish media haven’t sent anyone to Australia this year. The interest in tennis - it’s almost zero and I hope that this could bring back a little bit of the interest in Sweden.

‘‘I think what we need now is a guy who wins grand slams. I think that would be a big thing for tennis and that would be a big thing for the Swedish people too. I hope that I can bring a little more interest in tennis back.’’

The 26-year-old who beat Jiri Novak in the semi-finals to reach his first-ever grand slam final faces a tough task against 2000 US Open winner Safin.

But despite losing two of the previous three meetings between the two, Johansson hopes the support of Swedish fans will record the best result of his career - and a first Swedish win in Australia since Wilander 14 years ago.

He added: ‘‘The Swedish fans, they are great, they help me. They have helped me every day and they bare great to have. When you are struggling on the court and you feel a little bit down, they help you a lot.’’

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