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By Nick Georgandis                                    Photo Credit: Adam Pretty / Allsport

It's not easy to be male tennis player in Sweden, considering there were once men named Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, and Stefan Edberg who lived in those parts.

Starting out as a pro in 1993, Thomas Johansson was only a blip on the Grand Slam radar for the first few years of his career.

He made the quarterfinals at the US Open in 1998 and 2000, but nothing could have prepared the tennis world for his performance at the 2002 Australian Open.

Johansson was the 16th seed, standard for his level of competition the prior few seasons, but things were quickly out of whack down under as the top two seeds -- native son Lleyton Hewitt and Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten -- both crashed and burned in the first round, while defending champion Andre Agassi was forced to skip the tournament with an injury.

Fourth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov and fifth-seeded Sebastien Grosjean went out in the second round in one of the most improbably upset runs in Grand Slam history.

As the 16th seed, Johansson was in Kuerten's bracket, and thus had to play only one seeded opponent in the first four rounds, rallying past 21st seed Younes El Aynaoui in four sets in the third.

The quarterfinals hosted just four seeded players and pitted Johansson against his even-more unlikely countryman, Jonas Bjorkman, one of the best doubles players of his era, but at age 30, a surprising member of that year's final-eight roster.

Johansson took the first set 6-0 and earned a fairly easy four set triumph to square off against the Czech Republic's Jiri Novak in the semis.

The first three sets were wild: Johansson took a 7-6(5) victory in the first, then was skunked in the second, and down 2-1 after three. He rallied for 6-3 and 6-4 victories to move on to his first Grand Slam final, facing ninth-seeded Marat Safin, who had battled his way past American Pete Sampras in the fourth round, advanced via retirement to the semis and taken out Tommy Haas in five sets.

Safin took the first set, and looked well on his way to a second Grand Slam title in three years, but the power of Johansson'ss two-handed backhand was not to be denied as he won three straight sets to become the first Swede since Stefan Edberg in 1992 to win a Grand Slam.

Although he certainly couldn't have guessed it at the time, the victory was his career pinnacle.