Family 'sacrifices' help Ymer set up 'bonus' Zverev clash

Paris (AFP) –


Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer said on Tuesday that "sacrifices" by his parents helped him to a position where he is now preparing for a French Open second-round clash with fifth seed Alexander Zverev.

The world number 148, who was ranked outside the top 250 at the start of the year, came through three rounds of qualifying at Roland Garros last week before beating Slovenian Blaz Rola in the first round proper.

Ymer, of Ethiopian descent and the younger brother of fellow Tour player Elias, won 6-0, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) on Court 13 while German star Zverev was battling past John Millman in five sets on Court Philippe Chatrier.

"It's almost like a new tournament for me, that's what it felt like," said Ymer, who won three deciding sets in qualifying.

"I reached the main draw from qualifying for the first time and now it's a big bonus to have also won the first round."

The 20-year-old was unsurprisingly delighted to make a winning debut in a Grand Slam main draw, after struggling with a pelvic injury and battling through months on the unglamorous second-tier Challenger Tour.

He paid tribute to his parents -- father Wondwosen, a former professional runner, and mother Kelem, a doctor.

"Sometimes it can be pretty exhausting with the travel, if you lose early first round maybe you're alone for five or six days until the next tournament starts," he said.

"People have sacrificed a lot. My family have sacrificed more or less their lives for us to be able to do this, so I'm not only playing for me.

"It definitely helps me to make sure I do the work and it motivates me. Having success right now is not all about me. I'm happy for my parents, my brothers, everyone who has played a role in my career."

Ymer still has time on his side to continue climbing the rankings, and he is already set to jump at least 20 places after the French Open.

He entered qualifying in confident mood, after reaching three Challenger finals this year, winning one title.

"I felt that coming out of preseason, even if my ranking was still pretty low... I still felt like I was much better than my ranking," Ymer said.

"It's easy to say now, but in my head I was already better (than) there, I just had to prove it in my matches."

His toughest test on court so far will be in round two, though, with world number five Zverev, the ATP Finals champion, lying in wait.

The two played once before on the main tour in Stockholm on Ymer's ATP debut, with Zverev narrowly winning in three sets.

"When you come on court you have to leave it all out there, and we'll see. Obviously, he's the favourite, there's no hiding that."