BENGALURU: Sweden's emerging tennis player Elias Ymer, who is here for the ATP Bengaluru Open, draws inspiration from legendary Rafael Nadal and boxing great Mike Tyson.
"In tennis, I draw inspiration from Nadal. He has an unbelievable mentality and fighting prowess. If people could fight like him, they would go up the ranking. Nadal is very special player," the Sweden number one said after defeating India's wildcard Suran Prabodh in the USD 100,000 ATP Challenger Tour event.
World No 147 Elias is seen as someone who could rekindle Swedish hopes in tennis with Stefan Edberg being the last Swede to win the Wimbledon in 1990.
World Number 8 David Ferrer has predicted "a brilliant future" for Elias.
For decades, Sweden was a tennis super power with Bjorn Borg and Edberg dominating in their respective eras. Borg had bagged 11 Grand Slam titles, including five successive victories at Wimbledon, and Edberg, who claimed two Wimbledon titles out of his six Grand Slams.
Many might not be Tyson's fans but Elias looks up to him.
"Yes, I read Mike Tyson's book. Many people talk about his bad stuff. But I like his mentality that I need on the court. He really has that fighting spirit and I get motivated by him. I liked him since I was 17," he said.
Elias took to tennis because of Michael Chang, who ran hard after every ball and fought hard and was also his father's favourite.
"Chang was my father's favourite player. My father told us always that Chang ran for every ball and was a fighter.
Because of Chang, I and my brother played tennis," he said.
Elias said he interacted a lot with Edberg and also sponsored him when he was young.
"I interacted a lot with Edberg. He was sponsoring me with some money, when I was young. I also went with him for practice in his home town," he said.