Home > Sports > News > Reuters > Report
Australia win Davis Cup
Julian Linden |
November 30, 2003 16:29 IST
Australia won the Davis Cup for the 28th time on Sunday when Mark Philippoussis beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in an epic five-set struggle.
Needing to win just one of the two concluding rubbers to secure the title, Australia snatched an unbeatable 3-1 lead when Philippoussis defied a painful shoulder injury to beat the French Open champion 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 2-6, 6-0.
The fifth tie of the match between Lleyton Hewitt and Carlos Moya was immediately called off as the players and crowd burst into spontaneous celebration.
"At the end of the day I was completely numb. I felt like I wasn't playing but watching from the sideline," a jubilant Philippoussis said.
"It just shows how much this means to all of us. It has been a long year and it was our goal."
Australia's non-playing captain John Fitzgerald said: "What a team, what a great bunch of guys.
"Spain is the strongest men's nation in the world. They just have a conveyer belt of players.
"They played on a surface that is unfamiliar to them. Imagine how hard they would be in Spain on clay."
Philippoussis, who had lost his opening singles match to Moya on Friday, produced a near-perfect demonstration of grass court tennis to race to a 2-0 lead against the world's third-ranked player.
The Wimbledon finalist fired down an array of aces and accurate volleys and crisp ground strokes to overpower Ferrero, whose natural baseline game is better suited to clay.
The Spaniard fought back gallantly to force the match into a deciding fifth set despite having a leg injury but could not raise his game again as the momentum switched back to Philippoussis.
"The feeling is bad and of sadness," Ferrero said.
"We came here with a lot hope. We wanted to win this final. We had a bit of bad luck.
"I tried as hard as I could in the fifth set but I think he just played too well."
Philippoussis, who needed treatment to his shoulder after the fourth set, immediately regained the ascendancy when he broke Ferrero in the second game of the final set.
Roared on by a full-house at Melbourne Park's Rod Laver Arena, his momentum carried him to victory and he collapsed in joy after sealing his win with an overhead smash.
Australia were always heavy favourites to win tennis' most famous team trophy after playing at home on a temporary grass court that suited their players.
Friday's opening singles had been split 1-1 after Hewitt beat Ferrero in five sets and Philippoussis lost to Moya but the odds were dramatically shortened in the hosts' favour when Wayne Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge won Saturday's doubles rubber.
Despite Australia's great record in Davis Cup, they hadn't won the title on home soil since 1986 and their only win since then was in France in 1999 when Philippoussis was again the hero.
Australia lost the 2000 final to Spain in Barcelona and were odds-on favourites to beat France at home two years but lost in the deciding rubber after Fitzgerald suddenly changed his starting line-up for the last two days and the gamble backfired on him.
"It is a bad feeling to lose, particularly the further you get on this tournament," Moya said.
"But I guess time cures everything and in a few hours' time we will be looking back and saying how we got here, how we fought hard, how we missed by perhaps not very much.
"We came to Australia, we played on grass, the odds were not in our favour but we are proud that we came to fight."