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Sweden surprises Aussies in Davis Cup

By Wire services
Published February 9, 2004

ADELAIDE, Australia - Defending champion Australia was knocked out of the Davis Cup on Sunday - a big fall for a country that won the title just more than two months ago.

Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Enqvist won singles matches, giving Sweden a 4-1 victory in the first round. Sweden advanced to the quarterfinals against the United States. Australia will compete in a playoff to stay in the World Group.

Bjorkman topped Wimbledon runnerup Mark Philippoussis 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, and Enqvist beat Wayne Arthurs 7-6 (10-8), 3-6, 6-4.

The 31-year-old Bjorkman disarmed Philippoussis' big serve with powerful returns, whipped cross-court backhands past the him and was 11-0 on trips to the net.

"We had all the good bounces on our side, all the luck," Sweden captain Mats Wilander said.

Philippoussis, the star of the Davis Cup final last year, lost both singles matches.

"It's three days I want to put behind me. One day you're the hero, the next day everyone jumps on you," Philippoussis said. "That's how it is here unfortunately. It's a tough time now."

Australia is the seventh defending champion to be eliminated in the first round since the World Group format was introduced in 1972. Last year Australia beat Sweden 5-0 in Malmo, Sweden, in the quarterfinals.

Unity serves U.S. well

UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Andy Roddick knew he wanted to play a Davis Cup match Sunday, though the United States had clinched a quarterfinal berth Saturday.

Why? Because he likes to put on a show for fans, play for his country and to be around his teammates.

That gives captain Patrick McEnroe reason to believe his squad could end the Americans' longest Davis Cup title drought since the 1930s. He could be right, if the 5-0 sweep of Austria is any indication.

"It was a dominating performance for us. That gives me a lot of confidence," McEnroe said. "It is going to get tougher from here, but I am pretty pleased."

What McEnroe enjoyed most was the way Roddick, Robby Ginepri and the doubles team of twins Bob and Mike Bryan got along. Roddick and the Bryans got matching buzz cuts and traded barbs during news conferences. Ginepri kept his long locks, but he did join the others for raucous pingpong and arcade games.

"It excites Patrick, like it does the rest of us, that we have a pretty young core of guys who are very willing and very eager to play," Roddick said. "I only see our team getting better as the years go on."

Even the Austrians noticed the all-for-one attitude on the U.S. team.

"They seem very together. They are all close friends," Jurgen Melzer said. "They enjoy playing Davis Cup, and if they compete like this the whole way, they can win it."

Roddick pounded aces at up to 150 mph in a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Melzer, then sat in the stands to cheer on Ginepri during a 7-5, 6-2 win against Stefan Koubek.

Next up for the Americans as they try to win the country's 32nd Davis Cup title, and first since 1995, is a quarterfinal in April at home against Sweden. Florida, Arizona and Southern California are possible sites.

The Swedes have won the Cup seven times, including three in the past decade, defeating the United States 5-0 in the 1997 final.

"We are going to be tested against them," McEnroe said. "But I certainly like our chances, especially playing at home."

The other quarterfinal matchups are Belarus vs. Argentina, Switzerland vs. France and Netherlands vs. Spain.

PAN PACIFIC OPEN: Second-seeded Lindsay Davenport cruised to a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Magdalena Maleeva, defending her title in Tokyo. It was Davenport's fourth championship in the tournament.

"I've always played well here," said Davenport, who also won in 1998 and 2001. "It's an honor to win a tournament four times, especially one as prestigious as this."

Davenport, sixth in the world, needed 58 minutes to defeat Maleeva, who advanced to the final after Chanda Rubin pulled out of the semifinals because of an injured left knee.

[Last modified February 9, 2004, 01:05:23]

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