Patriot Söderling receives Borg approval

Robin Söderling has revealed that his giant-killing exploits at the French Open in Paris have been warmly received by his legendary Swedish compatriot Björn Borg.

Patriot Söderling receives Borg approval

Söderling, 24, beat Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko on Tuesday to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final, having sensationally dumped defending champion Rafael Nadal out of the tournament on Sunday.

World number one Nadal was bidding to beat Borg’s record of four straight tournament successes, having equalled it in 2008, and Söderling said the great man was appreciative of the young Swede’s efforts.

“I got an SMS from him,” Söderling said after his 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 win against Davydenko. “He said congratulations and thank you for not letting Nadal break my record!

“It was weird to hear from Bjorn. He’s maybe the best player of all time.”

Söderling’s run to the last four has been one of the stories of the Roland Garros fortnight and the 23rd seed revealed he was still getting used to being the centre of attention.

“I’ve received a lot of SMS and phone-calls,” he said. “I get texts from people I don’t even know. I don’t even recognise some of the numbers.”

Sweden took home nine men’s singles title at Roland Garros during the 1970s and 1980s thanks to the efforts of Borg and Mats Wilander, but Söderling will be the first Swedish semi-finalist in Paris since his coach Magnus Norman in 2000.

Söderling admits that his nation is not the tennis heavyweight it once was, but hopes his example can lead the way for future generations.

“Hopefully this will grow interest in tennis in Sweden again,” he said.

“We had such a great tradition. For a country with only nine million people, we had so many great players.

“One year we had 19 or 20 guys in the main draw here in France. I think it goes up and down in every country. I know we have lots of good juniors coming up, so maybe in four or five years’ time I won’t be the only one.”

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Björn Borg’s son Leo set to make his Wimbledon debut

Four decades after Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg won a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, his 16-year-old son Leo Borg is reportedly set to make his debut at the tournament.

Björn Borg's son Leo set to make his Wimbledon debut
Leo Borg's Wimbledon debut is yet to be officially confirmed. Photo: Hanna Franzén/TT

According to reports in British tabloid The Sun and Swedish tabloid Expressen, Borg will be awarded a wildcard to play in the Wimbledon junior event.

“Leo is very grateful about getting a wildcard for the qualifiers to junior Wimbledon,” Björn Borg told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

“It will be an incredible experience and useful practice for the future,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the Wimbledon tournament did not want to confirm the decision, only saying that wildcard announcements and the main draw for the Juniors tournament would be made next week.

If confirmed, Leo Borg’s Wimbledon debut comes 39 years after Björn Borg defeated American rival John McEnroe, winning him his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

The iconic match has been called one of the greatest matches of all time and the story was adapted for the screen in the 2017 feature film Borg vs McEnroe, where Leo, bearing a striking resemblance to his fatther, played a younger version of Björn Borg.

During the 1970s and early 1980s Björn Borg won a total of 11 Grand Slam titles, five Wimbledons and six French Opens.

Björn Borg after winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title in 1980. Photo: Scanpix/TT