Meet Mikael Torpegaard: Denmark’s Davis Cup spearhead with a heavy metal band

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“I keep seeing these posters saying ‘The grass is greener on the Indian side.’ Well, I’m color blind so I can’t see that.

A quip from Mikael Torpegaard was enough to sum up Denmark’s approach to the talk of boxing and home advantage around their Davis Cup draw against India.

In the absence of world number 88 Holger Rune, Torpegaard is expected to spearhead the Danish challenge at the Delhi Gymkhana Club. The 27-year-old will face Yuki Bhambri in the second singles match on Friday. Torpegaard and Bhambri are ranked 305 and 590 respectively in the world. But Davis Cup standings can be misleading, as India’s losses to Finland and Croatia in the last two encounters show.
“I really like the idea of ​​embracing the underdog role and having the opportunity to play a little more freely. It’s not often you try your luck on a surface you don’t know” , did he declare.

The bit about color blindness, however, was more than a punch.

“Actually, I can’t see which side the grass is greener on,” laughs Torpegaard. “I’m actually color blind and it can be awkward on the pitch if there’s really bright yellow, green or red behind the ball. Then the colors sort of blend together.

Colorblind, of course. deaf? Certainly not.

In the great Scandinavian tradition, Torpegaard is a heavy metal enthusiast. The neon yellow ‘Flying V’ guitar, frequently spotted on her Instagram feed, is “her darling.” He already has his eyes set on a James Hetfield-style “Explorer” in neon pink. Recently, however, he swapped the electric ax for an acoustic guitar for a “passion project”.

Together with Tennys Sandgren – the tennis player from Tennessee – Torpegaard is part of a two-man group called “Another Round”. It was during the first Covid-induced lockdown that Torpegaard traveled to Nashville, the birthplace of country music, to practice tennis with Sandgren. Off the court, he jammed, sang and recorded cover songs with the American, an expert drummer with a strong country music sensibility. The duo got down to writing and in late January they released an original six-song EP titled “Dystopian Melancholy”.

“We shared an interest in old school country music, the more acoustic kind that I like to play. Towards the end of the offseason, we thought ‘wouldn’t it be fun if we had something to put our name to’. So we spent two weeks creating something that people actually enjoy,” says Torpegaard. “I had a group before, in a slightly different genre. Kind of a bit heavier.
The “heavier genre” is what Torpegaard describes as “melodious death metal“. His original band is called ‘Mardröm’ (nightmare in Swedish). Last year they released their debut album called “Drawn to Delirium”.

“It’s a really good feeling because one of the things I like about metal is the energy. There’s a mood for it, when you want to go,” says Torpegaard. “The other aspect is the acoustic stuff. The EP with Tennys makes you feel different when you want to relax. That’s what we were trying to do with this record and we had so much fun doing it. And we are already working on a new full album too.

According to Torpegaard, the songs — soothing vocals against moody fingerpicking — also draw inspiration from their tennis career.

“A lot of them have a very dystopian spirit. They’re very heavy, some of them are about certain things that we go through on the pitch, things off the pitch that happen to us. Difficult times are the best inspiration.

Enter Sandman

Tennis players have been actors, politicians, even musicians; Winner of Roland-Garros turned afro-reggae singer, Yannick Noah is currently on tour in Belgium. There has yet to be an authentic heavy metal rock star and tennis player hybrid. Torpegaard, however, is not the first Dane to try piloting these two longships.
Lars Ulrich, drummer and co-founder of the band ‘Metallica’, comes from a tennis family. Father Torben and grandfather Einer represented Denmark in 176 Davis Cup matches combined and reached the later stages at Wimbledon. Lars, too, started on the same note, before an upsetting move to California.

“In Denmark, I was ranked high enough to be one of the best tennis players in the country, but there are only five million people there,” said the nine-time Grammy winner to Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. “When we got to Newport Beach…I wasn’t a top 10 street tennis player where I lived! I jumped headfirst into Iron Maiden, Saxon and Motorhead.
Torpegaard cites Lars Ulrich as “an idol” and beams when he talks about the screaming guitars and punchy bass of ‘Volbeat’ and ‘Dissection’. Standing 6’4 tall, with a long blonde mane, he would fit right into those groups.

On Friday, however, he takes center stage with a racket. It can serve big, but the tall frame could be a drawback on zippy grass courts, where the ball seems to stay fast and low. And while injury-ravaged Bhambri returns to the Davis Cup after five years, the Delhi man knows the conditions and spent most of Thursday’s training session refining his volleys.
Whether Torpegaard faces the music or hits the right note, expect some heavy metal tennis on Friday.
“I like to dial it up to 11, both on the tennis court and in music. It’s one of my ultimate goals to break through in both places,” he says. could it be cool to have a tennis top 100 player who, by the way, is also just a rock star?

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