The Swedish Open is an outdoor clay tournament held every year in Båstad. An ATP 250 and WTA International event, it takes place in the second and third weeks of July.
The first Swedish Open was held in 1948. Over the next two decades, many of the amateur era’s most gifted players made the trip to Sweden to compete at the event, including Budge Patty, Maureen Connelly, Ken Rosewall, Doris Hart, Roy Emerson, Maria Bueno and Manuel Santana.
Since the beginning of the Open Era, the Swedish Open has continued to adapt and improve its facilities, for both players and fans. The Båstad Tennis Stadium, close to Båstad Beach, was opened in 1991 and seats up to 5000 spectators; in 2002, it underwent further renovation to allow for the construction of a new hotel on the premises. The event was voted the ATP 250 Tournament of the Year from 2002 - 2011.
The women’s competition wasn’t played from 1991 - 2008, but made a welcome return to Båstad in 2009. Emulating its ATP counterpart, it was named the WTA’s International Tournament of the Year in 2012.
The men’s roll of honour is dominated by Swedes. Magnus Gustafsson holds the record for most Swedish Open titles, winning four times from 1991 - 1998. Multiple Grand Slam champions Bjorn Borg and Mats Wilander won three titles each in Båstad, and both Magnus Norman and Robin Soderling have won the tournament on two occasions.
In recent years, however, Spanish players have commanded the event. Carlos Moya, Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Almagro have each lifted the trophy, while Tommy Robredo and David Ferrer are two-time champions.
Home-grown players have also been well-represented at the women’s Swedish Open. Christina Sandberg won twice in the 1960s, and was emulated by her compatriot Lena Sandin in the early 1980s. Since the tournament’s return to the WTA calendar in 2009, Slovenia’s Polona Hercog is the only player to have won the title twice.
Almagro def. Soderling, 2010 final:
In 2010, Robin Soderling was attempting to defend the Swedish Open title he won the previous year. As the top seed, he was a slight favourite against Nicolas Almagro, yet there was little to separate the two men at the beginning of the match. But after staving off break points in his first service game, Almagro kept pressing, and eventually broke the Soderling serve in the 12th game to take the opening set.
Roared on by the fervent support of the home crowd, Soderling hit back in the second, constructing a 3-0 lead and holding on to even the score at one set all. The contest was evenly poised until 2-2 in the decider, when Almagro suddenly raised his game. Moving well and anticipating Soderling’s shots brilliantly, Almagro won the final four games of the match to become the fifth Spaniard in the last six years to triumph in Båstad.
Hercog def. Johansson, 2012 final:
Polona Hercog had upset the home crowd in 2011, beating Sweden’s Joanna Larsson in the final. A year later, she faced the Swedish-born Frenchwoman Mathilde Johansson. However, unlike the 2011 final, in which Hercog performed strongly from the very first point, the Slovenian was blasted off the court in the opening set. Taking advantage of Hercog’s wayward focus and copious unforced errors, Johansson took it 6-0, and looked set for a comfortable victory.
But the defending champion managed to regroup in the second set, and as Johansson began to struggle on serve, Hercog held on to a break to push the match to a decider. Now in control and finding the range on her groundstrokes, she raced to a 5-1 lead, only to suffer a relapse of poor concentration. Johansson played measured tennis to eventually even the score at 5-all, and a stunning comeback looked possible. But in one last twist, Hercog dug deep to take the third set 7-5 and lift the Swedish Open trophy for a second time.
Video: Hercog v Johansson, 2010
- After Stan Smith beat Bjorn Borg in the 1973 semi-finals in Båstad, he told the young Swede, “You will go very far.”
- Manuel Santana failed to convert ten match points in his 1971 semi-final loss to Jan Leschly.
- There has been at least one Swedish player in the men’s doubles final every year since 1987.
- Magnus Norman won the title in 1997 after coming back from 5-0 down in the third set of his second round match against Adrian Voinea.