March 13, 1974
Right-handed, Two-handed backhand
In the rich legacy of Swedish tennis, there were many credentialed countrymen to inspire a Stockholm-born teenager into this sport. But when Thomas Enqvist was asked in 2015 to name his childhood idol, there was one name that stood out.
“It was unbelievable working with my idol and now good friend Bjorn Borg for the first Laver Cup. Just to be part of that event for the first time and watch some of the best players who ever played this game, was a lot of fun and an unbelievable experience.”
“Bjorn Borg. (He’s) really my superhero,” Enqvist responded. “The reason why I wanted to play tennis. My whole life he’s been my biggest idol.”
The synergy could not be more pronounced as Enqvist works alongside his idol and countryman as Team Europe’s vice captain. With an impressive tennis record of his own, the younger Swede is both a keen and qualified deputy.
The middle child of engineer father Folke and economist mother Birgitta, Enqvist was the world’s No.1-ranked junior in 1991 after winning Grand Slam boys’ singles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and twice finishing runner-up in the junior event at Roland Garros.
A classic cool Swede who could disarm opponents with his smooth, powerful groundstrokes, Enqvist quickly made his mark as a professional player. Upsetting higher-ranked countryman Magnus Larsson on his Grand Slam debut at the 1992 Australian Open, Enqvist stepped into the spotlight as a 19-year-old at the 1993 US Open, where he stunned Andre Agassi in his Flushing Meadows debut and progressed to the final 16.
“It might look easy but it is not easy. In a big international competition like the Laver Cup it is incredibly hard especially as the matches were short and the points changed each day, so things could change very quickly.”
Within two years, the young Swede was a top-10 player, with titles in Auckland, Philadelphia, Stockholm, Pinehurst and Indianapolis, boosting his rise to the upper echelon. Starting the season at world No.60, Enqvist was voted by his peers as the ATP’s Most Improved Player for 1995.
Enqvist reached the fourth round or better at every major with the high point of his Grand Slam career occurring when he stunned Patrick Rafter and Mark Philippoussis to finish runner-up at the Australian Open in 1999.
It provided the impetus for Enqvist’s most successful season on tour, with titles in Adelaide, Stuttgart and Stockholm, ensuring his rise to a personal-best world No.4.
“The Laver Cup is a celebration of the game itself and the past champions. To thank the players who played before us. Tennis is one of the most global and popular sports in the world, and it’s the players from the beginning who made this possible with the sacrifices they made. It’s important to remember this.”
The No.1 Swede for much of his career, Enqvist was the winner of at least one title each year between 1995 and 2000. Winning 19 titles in total, he triumphed on every surface except grass. Most significantly, he won ATP Masters 1000 events in Paris, Stuttgart and Cincinnati.
He featured in Sweden’s 1997 and 1998 winning Davis Cup campaigns, and was also a member of the team that finished runner-up to France in 1996.
The number of top-10 wins Enqvist recorded in his stellar career. His first was against world No.2 Andre Agassi in 1995 and his 41st against Andy Roddick, who was also ranked No.2 at the time, in 2004.