Mikael Pernfors

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Mikael Pernfors
Country (sports) Sweden
ResidenceVero Beach, Florida, U.S.[1]
Born (1963-07-16) 16 July 1963 (age 60)
Malmö, Sweden
Height1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Turned pro1985
PlaysRight-handed (two-handed backhand)
Prize money$1,363,793
Career record140–114 (55.1%)
Career titles3
Highest rankingNo. 10 (22 September 1986)
Grand Slam singles results
Australian OpenQF (1990)
French OpenF (1986)
Wimbledon4R (1986, 1987)
US Open4R (1989)
Other tournaments
WCT FinalsSF (1989)
Career record41–47
Career titles1
Highest rankingNo. 32 (11 July 1988)

Mikael Pernfors (born 16 July 1963) is a former professional tennis player from Sweden. He reached the men's singles final at the French Open in 1986, and won the 1993 Canadian Open in Montreal.


Pernfors played a topspin-heavy baseline game with a double-handed backhand, like his countrymen Björn Borg and Mats Wilander, but he lacked their consistency and relied on a crowd-pleasing game full of variety, liberally employing the drop shot and the topspin lob.

Before turning professional, Pernfors played tennis for two years at Seminole Community College, then the University of Georgia in the United States and became the first player since Dennis Ralston two decades earlier to win back-to-back NCAA singles titles in 1984 and 1985.

In 1986 Pernfors reached his first (and only) Grand Slam singles final at the French Open. He defeated Olivier Delaître, Stefan Edberg, Robert Seguso, Martín Jaite, Boris Becker in the quarterfinals and Henri Leconte in the semifinals. In the final, he lost in straight sets to then world No. 1, Ivan Lendl, 3–6, 2–6, 4–6.

Pernfors played for Sweden in the final of the Davis Cup in 1986. He won one singles rubber against Paul McNamee in straight sets and lost the other to Pat Cash in five sets – after winning the first two – as Australia beat Sweden 3–2. The following year at Wimbledon he again lost a two-set lead, falling to Jimmy Connors 6–1, 6–1, 5–7, 4–6, 2–6 after having led 6–1, 6–1, 4–1, and afterwards 3–0 in the fourth set. [1]

In 1988, Pernfors won his first top-level singles title at Los Angeles, defeating Andre Agassi in the final. His second came just a month later in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In the fourth round of the Australian Open in 1990, Pernfors faced John McEnroe during a match in which McEnroe became the first player to be disqualified under a new Code of Conduct that had recently been introduced in tennis. McEnroe was apparently unaware that under the new rules three code violations would result in disqualification (instead of the previous four), and Pernfors won the match by default after McEnroe attempted to intimidate a lineswoman, smashed a racket, and then verbally abused the umpire.

Injuries limited Pernfors' performances on the tour in the first few years of the 1990s. He came back strongly in 1993 to win the most significant title of his career at the Canadian Open (part of the Tennis Masters Series), where he defeated Todd Martin in the final, 2–6, 6–2, 7–5. Pernfors became the oldest player to lift a Masters title when the then 30-year-old Swede lifted the third and final singles trophy of his career. He also was the lowest ranked player to triumph at a Masters, moving 58 positions up to world No. 37 after the tournament.[2] A few weeks later, he pushed Wilander to five sets in the second round of the US Open, falling 6–7, 6–3, 6–1, 6–7, 4–6.

Pernfors was the recipient of the ATP Tour's Most Improved Player award in 1986, and its Comeback Player of the Year award in 1993.

Pernfors retired from the professional tour in 1996 after a career in which he won three top-level singles and one doubles title. His career-high singles ranking was world No. 10 in 1986. His career prize-money earnings totalled $1,363,793. In addition to his victories over Becker, Agassi, McEnroe and Martin, Pernfors holds victories over Wilander, Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Thomas Muster, Sergi Bruguera and Michael Stich.

Since retiring from the tour, Pernfors has been a regular competitor in seniors events.[3][1]

Significant finals[edit]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles: 1 (0–1)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1986 French Open Clay Czechoslovakia Ivan Lendl 3–6, 2–6, 4–6

Masters Series finals[edit]

Singles: 1 (1–0)[edit]

Outcome Year Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Win 1993 Montreal, Canada Hard United States Todd Martin 2–6, 6–2, 7–5

Career finals[edit]

Singles: 5 (3 titles, 2 runner-ups)[edit]

Grand Slam (0–1)
Masters Cup (0–0)
ATP Masters Series (1–0)
ATP Tour (2–1)
Result No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1. May 1986 French Open, Paris Clay Czechoslovakia Ivan Lendl 3–6, 2–6, 4–6
Loss 2. Feb 1988 Memphis, USA Hard (i) United States Andre Agassi 4–6, 4–6, 5–7
Win 1. Sep 1988 Los Angeles, USA Hard United States Andre Agassi 6–2, 7–5
Win 2. Oct 1988 Scottsdale, USA Hard United States Glenn Layendecker 6–2, 6–4
Win 3. Jul 1993 Montreal, Canada Hard United States Todd Martin 2–6, 6–2, 7–5

Doubles: 3 (1 title, 2 runner-ups)[edit]

Grand Slam (0–0)
Masters Cup (0–0)
ATP Masters Series (0–0)
ATP Tour (1–2)
Result No. Date Tournament Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1. Jul 1987 Stuttgart, West Germany Clay Sweden Magnus Tideman United States Rick Leach
United States Tim Pawsat
3–6, 4–6
Loss 2. Feb 1988 Memphis, USA Hard (i) Sweden Peter Lundgren United States Kevin Curren
United States David Pate
2–6, 2–6
Win 1. May 1989 Charleston, USA Clay Sweden Tobias Svantesson Mexico Agustín Moreno
Peru Jaime Yzaga
6–4, 4–6, 7–5

Singles performance timeline[edit]

(W) winner; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held; (SR) strike rate (events won / competed); (W–L) win–loss record.
Tournament 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 SR W–L
Grand Slam tournaments
Australian Open A A NH A A 3R QF A A A 1R 0 / 3 6–3
French Open A A F 1R 1R 1R A A A A 1R 0 / 5 6–5
Wimbledon A A 4R 4R A 2R A A A A A 0 / 3 7–3
US Open 1R 1R 2R 1R 3R 4R 1R 1R 1R 2R A 0 / 10 7–10
Win–loss 0–1 0–1 10–3 3–3 2–2 6–4 4–2 0–1 0–1 1–1 0–2 0 / 21 26–21
ATP Masters Series
Indian Wells Tournaments were not

Masters Series events

before 1990
A A A A A 0 / 0 0–0
Miami 1R A A 3R A 0 / 2 2–2
Monte Carlo A A A A A 0 / 0 0–0
Rome A A A A A 0 / 0 0–0
Hamburg A A A A A 0 / 0 0–0
Canada A A A W A 1 / 1 6–0
Cincinnati A 2R A 1R A 0 / 2 1–2
Stockholm A A A 2R A 0 / 1 1–1
Paris A A A A A 0 / 0 0–0
Win–loss 0–1 1–1 0–0 9–3 0–0 1 / 6 10–5
Year-end ranking 434 165 12 33 19 48 175 240 234 29 940


  1. ^ a b McNulty, Ray (12 January 2023). "Pros headline King of the Hill tourney". VB32963online / Vero News. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
  2. ^ "5 lowest-ranked players to triumph at a Masters 1000 tournament".
  3. ^ "Tennishjältarnas liv efter karriären" (in Swedish). Expressen. 12 July 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2021.

External links[edit]

Preceded by ATP Most Improved Player
Succeeded by