Mikael Ymer won seven straight games to stun rising Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, at the Winston-Salem Open Friday to become the first Swedish ATP Tour finalist since 2011.
Ymer stormed back from a 3-5 deficit to take the first set then won the first three games of the second set to reach the first final of his career.
“I was nervous,” said Ymer. “I knew he would come out very strong. Luckily I got a chance to break him in the first set.”
In Saturday’s final, the 22-year-old Ymer will face Ilya Ivashka, who is also in his first final and seeking to become the first Belarusian champ since 2003.
Ivashka hammered Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-2, 6-1 in the other semi-final Friday.
Ymer played flawless tennis from the baseline, clinching it on the first of two match points when the 18-year-old Alcaraz sailed his backhand long.
He lost only one point in the final game due to a double fault, his third of the match on the hardcourts at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Robin Soderling was the last Swede to reach a final, winning the Bastad, Sweden tournament in 2011.
Ymer, whose parents are from Ethiopia, blasted three aces to just two for Alcaraz.
Earlier this year, Ymer reached the third round at the Australian Open and the French Open where he defeated Gael Monfils for the biggest win of his career.
Ivashka is attempting to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Max Mirnyi, who is the last player from Belarus to win an ATP title doing it in 2003 at Rotterdam.
“I feel good physically and mentally and I’m just trying to play my best tennis. I like to play on hard courts, so it’s all coming together this week,” Ivashka said.
“It is something I have been dreaming of to get an ATP title, so let’s see tomorrow if it happens.”