Have the tennis fortunes of a country ever changed as dramatically as Sweden's? The axis of Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg accounted for 24 Grand Slam singles titles from 1974 to '92. Since then, Swedes have claimed just one major—Thomas Johansson's unexpected 2002 Australian Open victory-and last year, for the first time since 1973, no Swede won a tournament. But there are signs of a renaissance. Robin Soderling, a lanky 19-year-old with metronomic consistency from the backcourt, is one of only two teenagers in the ATP's top 50. Joachim Johansson (above), 21, a 6'6" behemoth who routinely serves in excess of 125 mph, has moved up from No. 133 at the beginning of the year to No. 50, thanks in part to winning his first ATP title, in Memphis last month.
What's more, with contributions from veteran Thomas Enqvist and doubles doyen Jonas Bjorkman, the Swedish team last month kicked off Davis Cup play by making herring salad out of Australia, the defending champ. (The upset win was freighted with extra significance for Joachim Johansson, who dates the younger sister of Lleyton Hewitt, the top Aussie player.) The Swedes will now face a U.S. team headed by world No. 3 Andy Roddick on April 9-11 in Delray Beach, Fla. "I'm not predicting we're going to win," says Soderling, "but we definitely have a lot of confidence for the future."