1988: The Year Swedes Ruled Men’s TennisSeptember 6, 2019
The year was 1988.
Seven years after Björn Borg won the last of his 11 Grand Slam titles, Swedes Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg claimed all four Grand Slams. With Wilander winning the Australian Open, French Open and the U.S. Open, and Edberg claiming Wimbledon, it marked only the second time that one country had won all four Grand Slam titles in the same year in the Open era (started in 1968) – Australian Rod Laver won each title in 1969.
Wilander, who started the year ranked No. 3 in the world, ended 1988 as the world’s top player, and Edberg finished the year at No. 5. In between were legends Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi and Boris Becker. Right behind Edberg at No. 6 was another Swede, Kent Carlsson, who won five times that year and played in two other finals. And Mikael Pernfors beat Agassi for his first individual title and picked up two of his three career wins, finishing the year at No. 19.
Swedes Anders Järryd and Joakim Nyström also spent time in the Top 20 in 1988.
It was a grand time for Sweden in men’s tennis. As the New York Times noted in a 2013 story about the country’s recent struggles in tennis, Swedish men won 24 or 76 Grand Slams from 1974-92, one less than Americans over that time.