Johansson and Bjorkman mask fall of Swedish tennis

Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:14pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Once a conveyor belt of tennis greats like Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg, Swedish tennis now finds itself in the doldrums but two old warriors have helped lift the mood at the Stockholm Open this week.

Former world No.4 Jonas Bjorkman, aged 41, came out of retirement to partner compatriot Robert Lindstedt in the men's doubles and Joachim Johansson, once regarded as the next big thing before injury struck, made a rare singles appearance.

Both shook off the rust to win.

Bjorkman, who quit five years ago, was approached by Lindstedt after breaking up with his regular partner before the U.S. Open and jumped at the chance of a one-off appearance.

"It's not a comeback, just here in Stockholm," Bjorkman, who is also the tournament's marketing director, said in an interview on the tournament's website.

"Robert is one of the best in the world and I hope he can carry me on his shoulders. The aim is to win the title."

Bjorkman, who won all four majors in doubles and reached two grand slam singles semi-finals, and Lindstedt beat fellow Swedes Isak Arvidsson and Andreas Siljestrom in the first round and were up against Ernests Gulbis and Dmitry Tursonov in the second round.

Johansson, nicknamed Pim Pim, rolled back the years to when he reached the 2004 U.S. Open semi-final, with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Colombia's world No. 112 Alejandro Falla.

The former top tenner's performance was remarkable as it was his first main tour match for four years, although he has performed Davis Cup duties for Sweden on occasions since.   Continued...