There is genuine excitement among Swiss tennis fans after 18-year-old Dominic Stricker won the boys' singles title at the French Open on Saturday, defeating countryman Leandro Riedi in the final. Stricker has become the first Swiss player to win a junior title at a Grand Slam event since Stan Wawrinka won at Roland Garros in 2003.
There could be more reasons to celebrate on Saturday for the Swiss, as Stricker will partner Italian Flavio Cobolli in the boys' doubles final.
Stricker and Riedi, ranked No. 10 and No. 11 in the ITF junior rankings respectively prior to Roland Garros, are not the only Swiss boys rising up the ranks. 18-year-old Jeffrey von der Schulenburg is ranked No. 14, while 17-year-old Jerome Kym is ranked No. 24.
Stricker, Riedi and Kym, who train at the national training centre in Biel, were fortunate enough to take part in a training camp with Swiss legend Roger Federer prior to this year's Australian Open. And Von der Schulenburg, who trains with the trio quite often, got a chance to hit with the Swiss legend in Melbourne.
The players shared their experiences of getting a chance to practice with their illustrious countrymen in an interview with ITF.
Roger Federer advised Dominic Stricker to improve his serve during a training camp
Stricker revealed that Roger Federer advised him to improve his serve when they met, something that he has worked on over the past few months.
“He gave such amazing advice and, of course, it is a big inspiration if we can train with Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka and try and perform as best as we can in front of them. We pretty much know what they think about us and our games," Stricker said.
Kym, who was beaten in the first round this week, added that having champions such as Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka is important to inspire youngsters.
"Every Swiss player looks up to Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Everyone says they can be the new Roger, but no one can do it the way he did it. Everyone must do it their way. It is a great opportunity to look up to them and at what they achieved – that is so important. But rather than just watching them and their scores, we must also focus on what we want to achieve,” Kym said.
Von der Schulenburg was not part of the training camp but he did get an opportunity to hit with the 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at the Australian Open.
"I met Roger Federer once at the Australian Open, trained with him and it was awesome – I have never been as nervous before in my life. He just said, ‘You juniors can play at the same speed we can, or similar, it is just that mentally you play the wrong shot in the wrong moment.' What a 45-minute session that was,” Von der Schulenburg said.
Riedi talked about his interaction with the other famous Swiss star Stan Wawrinka, whom he recently got a chance to train with.
“He is a really nice guy – very funny also – so it was fantastic to train with him. It was another level of tennis and it was perfect. It’s important, if you get such opportunities, to talk to them and ask questions – ‘What should I do in a certain circumstance? What can I do better?’ Because of this we can play stronger tennis in the future,” Riedi said.
The Swiss will surely have great expectations from these boys in the wake of the Grand Slam exploits of Federer and Wawrinka. It will be interesting to see whether the success of these juniors translates onto the professional circuit in the years to come.Published 11 Oct 2020, 00:15 IST