Class of 2007
World No. 3 (1957)
Grand Slam Results
2-time major champion and 2-time finalist
Member of the Swedish Davis Cup Team 1950-1961
Overall Record: 62-23
Singles Record: 39-14
Doubles Record: 23-9
Sweden, the largest of the Scandinavian countries, has produced giant-sized tennis players – some of the greatest champions to ever wield a racquet. The modern era torch passed from Björn Borg to Mats Wilander to Stefan Edberg. But before that that group combined to win 24 major singles titles, Sven Davidson landed the country its first, winning the French Championships in 1957. It was only a matter of time until the tall and agile Davidson earned his first major victory on the red clay at Roland Garros. He was a finalist in both 1955 and 1956, so his victory leap over the net was eminent.
Davidson was a Swedish junior champion in 1947 and remained ranked among the world’s Top 10 from 1953 to 1958. He rose to No. 3 in 1957, his best year on the amateur tour.
Seeded No. 3 in the 1957 French Championships, Davidson had to withstand four-set matches in the second and third round, defeating Czech Jiri Javorsky and Brit Robert Keith Wilson respectively. To reach the finals, his victories were even more impressive, knocking out No. 11 Jacques Brichant 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals and then digging down to comeback and upset No. 2 Aussie Ashley Cooper in five sets, 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, in the semifinals. After such an exhaustive effort, Davidson still had fuel in his tank and thumped No. 8 seeded U.S. player Herb Flan in the final, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Davidson had a strong 1957 campaign overall, reaching the semifinals at both Wimbledon and the U.S. National Championships. He fell to Aussies Lew Hoad at Wimbledon, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 and Mal Anderson in a marathon endeavor at Forest Hills, 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
For Davidson and Sweden, the victory was enormous, especially considering how close he had come the previous two years. In 1955 he was the No. 11 seed, but didn’t face stiff competition until the quarterfinals where No. 3 American Budge Patty awaited him. The first two sets were tightly contested but won by Davidson, 7-5, 10-8. Those narrow defeats took the wind out of Patty and Davidson won the third easily, 6-0. Riding the crest of momentum, Davidson dispatched Italian Giuseppe Merlo in three routine sets in the semifinals, and welcomed the chance to topple No. 1 seed Tony Trabert. That didn’t happen. After dropping the first set 6-2, Trabert’s experience took control and won the next three, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. In 1956, Davidson’s road to the finals was considerably tougher. Despite being the No. 3 seed, there were no easy wins. The third and fourth rounds needed four long sets, as did a four-set (6-2, 9-7, 5-7, 6-3) victory over Cooper in the semis. No. 1 seed Hoad was simply unstoppable in the final and won in three competitive sets, 6-4, 8-6, 6-3.
Davidson would cop a second major victory, however, teaming with Swedish doubles partner Ulf Schmidt to win the 1958 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Doubles Championship over the powerhouse Aussie duo of Cooper and Neale Fraser, 6-4, 6-4, 8-6. The New York Times reported that the Australians “were thoroughly thrashed” at Wimbledon.
Davidson was a mainstay on Sweden’s Davis Cup team from 1950 to 1961, and won more doubles matches (23) than any Swede in history. His doubles partner Schmidt holds the record for most combined wins (66). The singles mark belongs to Jan-Erik Lundquist with 44.
Davidson was one of the leading advocates of the Stockholm Open, which made its debut in 1969, and remains a top destination on the ATP Tour.
French Championships: W 1957
Wimbledon: SF 1957
U.S. Nationals: SF 1957
Australian Championships: QF 1955
French Championships: SF 1956
Wimbledon: W 1958
Wimbledon: QF 1951
U.S. Nationals: SF 1953