Michael Ryderstedt and Ervin Eleskovic, Sweden's Davis Cup by BNP Paribas singles players, are respectively the world numbers 297 and 355. This weekend they will face the reigning champions Serbia in what will surely be the toughest challenge of their careers.
Neither Ryderstedt nor Eleskovic have ever played for Sweden before and their professional careers have very little to do with the glamour of the Grand Slams. However, they are both optimistic about their chances because they will play in front of a passionate crowd and also because these are the moments when dreams can come true.
Eleskovic has been working closely with Swedish captain Thomas Enqvist and coach Magnus Larsson, and he believes this is proving to be inspirational. "They are always there reminding me that it is possible to win a singles match even if they [the opposition] are better ranked and more stable over the entire season," said the 24-year-old.
The Swedish Federation are also quick to silence the sceptics. "Ervin Eleskovic has probably not peaked as a tennis player and we know what he can do. He has played well in Sweden before. As a junior Ervin Eleskovic was a superb talent and spent some time abroad."
Eleskovic can also benefit from his knowledge about one of the stars of the Serbian team, Viktor Troicki. “I have beaten him and we trained together when I lived in Germany as a teenager. I thought he would quit, now he's a top player."
Enqvist was certainly disappointed when news broke out that Robin Soderling was not going to be available for the tie, but he also saw the opportunity for new players to gain experience. "Nothing bad without something good. Now we can really see where the other players stand and they will have the opportunity to play world class players at home,” said the former Australian Open runner-up.
The Serbs are clear favourites but the magic of Davis Cup lies in its unpredictability and the influence of the atmosphere. "Both me and Michael like the surface and playing in front of our crowd, it is an incredible opportunity, and we will try to enjoy it," said Eleskovic.