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"The Swedes' communal sense of going along to get along is tied to their culture," says Tim Mayotte of the U.S., who's ranked 18th. "Their plan was simply that the strength of a group increases the success of the individuals. It's terrific—for them. We aren't brought up that way. But when I play a Swede, I usually see the others supporting him. That's a psychological edge right there."
The benefits of the team structure to Wilander, Jarryd and Nystrom have been obvious. (Simonsson shared the 1983 French Open doubles title with Jarryd before fading off into the harsh caves of computerland. He is now ranked No. 226.) "I would not be where I am without a team," says Wilander. His tight bond with Nystrom and Jarryd remains unfettered by rankings, endorsements, celebrity or money. Now the trio has accepted Edberg as well and, to a lesser extent, Sundstrom, the lone wolf.
"They really are the Musketeers, one for all," says John Newcombe, who compares the Swedes to his old Australian peerage—Rosewall, Laver, Stolle, Emerson and the rest. "I'm not sure they'd have their results without the team, except Wilander. He could have made it without them and cut himself off, acted like number one. But he's not that way. Even when he loses, he stays around the tournament and roots for the other guys. He seems to know, as we did, that any other way he wouldn't be as happy. He'd never have the memories."
A fond recollection for all the Swedes surely will be of last April 11 in Dallas, where Nystrom upset John McEnroe at the WCT Championships. Wilander and Nystrom had been up partying most of the previous night. Swedes just wanna have fun, too. They had slept five hours and then negotiated 18 holes of golf in the afternoon. Neither practiced for his match that night. Wilander promptly lost his. Sundstrom had already lost—to Nystrom. Jarryd had already lost—to Edberg. Swedes lose mostly to other Swedes. They call these matches "popcorn" games. "Everything is tense, nervous. Everything is popping," says Wilander. Edberg would lose the next night.
Yet after Nystrom's 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 victory over McEnroe, who had won 23 straight matches in 1985, there they were, all of them, gathered in the locker room. While Nystrom telephoned his pregnant wife, Susan, back home in Skelleftea, they swapped recollections of the match for more than an hour, slapping occasional high fives. Wilander, Sundstrom and Jarryd had already beaten McEnroe. Edberg (with Jarryd) had beaten Mac (with Peter Fleming) in doubles to clinch the Davis Cup in December. Now Nystrom had done it. Of McEnroe's 18 defeats in the last 2½ years, seven have come at the hands of Swedes.
"It is very relaxing when we get together and talk," says Sundstrom, the thinker of the bunch. "It is like we are all sitting in a small Swedish village."
And so the Reunion Arena locker room, home of the Dallas Mavericks, became another little piece of Scandinavia. But they all might as well have been back in Bastad, near the windy rocks of Laholms Bay, where they had prepared for just such a moment in the development camps of their, ah, youth.
Bastad sits in the midst of a geographical cornucopia of mustard plain, hilly beech woods, heather moorland and craggy inlets, high above the Nordic Straits in the southwest corner of the country, a kind of Carmel-by-Cape Cod. The tiny resort was constructed around the turn of the century by the Nobel family of the dynamite fortune and the prizes. Fittingly, King Gustaf V ascended the Swedish throne at about the same time, bringing with him an abiding love of tennis. Today all of the country's outdoor Davis Cup ties as well as the Swedish Open are held in Bastad.
Though everyone knew who he was, old King Gustaf, a hacker's hacker, played in tournaments under the pseudonym Mr. G. On the French Riviera, where Mr. G was known by respectful opponents to engage in constant royal hookery, a park and a street are named after him. In Bastad, where he played competitively until he was 88, a sign at the nexus of lanes leading to Center Court and the beach indicates MR. G'S VAG (or way).
Mr. G begat tennis in Sweden, but Jan-Erik Lundquist, the touch artist of the 1960s, brought the sport into the streets. Before Lundquist, Sweden's contribution to the world ranks had been Sven Davidson, who reached the finals of the French Open three years running. Lundquist, however, captured the imagination of the populace, winning the Italian Open in 1964 and leading the Davis Cup team to the European finals five straight years.