Team morale firing up Ymer

The 27-year-old comes through Roland-Garros qualifying for the third time in his career.

Elias Ymer, 3e tour, qualifications, Roland-Garros 2023©Cédric Lecocq / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Just off court, heading towards the locker room, Elias Ymer posed for a collection of pictures with his team, raising his fist in a defiant celebration.

The undulations of Grand Slam qualifying can be a brutal rollercoaster as the older Ymer sibling knows better than most.

Ymer, who faces No.4 seed and last year's finalist Casper Ruud in the first round, earned his third Roland-Garros main draw spot on Friday with a commanding 6-3, 6-4 scoreline over in-form second seed Yannick Hanfmann.

"I don’t want to say a relief, but this week has been a love and hate over the years at Roland-Garros," said the Swede, who returns to the main draw for the first time since 2018.

"Some years it's been amazing, some years it's been tough. I came very well prepared and I'm very happy to get through."

Small steps, big results

The world No.155 managed an impressive feat of qualifying for all four Grand Slams in 2015 and has since chipped away at the tour with enhanced knowhow.

"Roland-Garros is where I got my first Grand Slam main draw win (in 2018). I'm now way more experienced, when I was younger and qualified, that became such a rush," Ymer explained. 

"When you win, it feels like you did something big already. But you have to keep going, I'm taking it more day by day, staying in the moment is very important."

Elias Ymer, Roland-Garros 2023, qualifying first round© Remy Chautard/FFT

Fresh approach paying off

Magnus Norman was Stan Wawrinka's coach when the Swiss powerhouse ruled Roland-Garros in 2015. Since April, Norman and former Sweden Davis Cup captain Johan Hedsberg have been at the helm of Ymer's development.

"I have a new team. After I lost in Madrid we really dug deep, put in some serious work. It's kinda paid off, but I want to do some more," said Stockholm-based Ymer.  

"We are working a lot about staying a bit closer to the baseline, court positioning, small details in my game. Magnus is big on playing big tennis, because if you play the better guys, they'll never give you the match. It feels like he has a plan for me."

Sibling support

Elias is keen to wield his racquet against a top name on a show court, having joined his younger brother Mikael in the 128-strong main draw.

"I just feel I'm very blessed to have a brother on the tour, because I know how tough it can be, it can be very lonely," Elias said.

"We travel together, we train in Stockholm together, I feel we have a very big advantage having each other because if we have problems, he can ask me questions, I can ask him questions."

The Ymer brothers are embracing the team mentality.

'We have a very big team with us. Me, my brother are having a lot of time together. It's got to be one of the reasons I'm playing better," Elias said.

"It's fun to stay in the Slam. If you see the big players, they all come with a big team and with Magnus and Johan here too, that's a real psychological factor for me too."

Ready for anything

Top seed Aslan Karatsev also signed in to the main draw with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Nicolas Moreno De Alboran.

Karatsev, who has featured in a major semi-final – at Australian Open 2021 – will come up against world No.82 Australian Alexei Popyrin in the first round next week.

“It’s all about how far you want to go. At some point you have to face a big player," the former world No.14 said. “I’m mentally, physically ready to play, I’m ok to face anyone in the draw." 

Back in March, 2016 finalist Andy Murray helped Karatsev to find a spine specialist in London and after that injury healed, the 29-year-old geared up for the clay courts with a month training at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor.

That long stint has worked its magic, as Karatsev defeated world No.2 Daniil Medvedev in Madrid en route to the semi-finals – his finest run at a Masters 1000 tournament.

"It takes time. It took me a few matches on clay to get used to the rhythm. It's been step by step," the world No.62 added.

"For me it's about how clear is your mind. You have to give 100 per cent every day and then the results will come.

"Anything can happen, it's a Grand Slam, every player is ready to compete and every match is tough. Let's see."