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Sweden stun champions Australia
February 08, 2004 14:54 IST
Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Enqvist won the concluding reverse singles to give Sweden a surprise 4-1 win over defending champions Australia in the first round of the Davis Cup in Adelaide.
Bjorkman, called in as a late substitute for Robin Soderling, crushed Australia's Mark Philippoussis 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 to give the Scandinavians an unbeatable 3-1 lead on Sunday.
Then Enqvist rubbed more salt into Australia's wounds when he beat Wayne Arthurs 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 in the dead rubber.
Sweden advanced to a quarter-final showdown against the United States in April while condemning Australia to the playoffs in September.
"We knew that we had to do something really, really good to come through so it's definitely a big upset," Bjorkman told a news conference.
"It is never easy to beat the champions from last year. You always hope to win but I never really thought that we could maybe do it."
Australia, who beat Spain in November last year to win the Davis Cup for the 28th time, became just the seventh defending champions to be eliminated in the first round since the World Group was introduced in 1972.
Philippoussis, who became a national hero after he won the decisive match against the Spanish, failed to win a set in his two singles matches against the Swedes.
"One day you're the hero, the next day everyone jumps on you," a dejected Philippoussis said. "But that's tennis and that's how it is here unfortunately.
"We have got to think about coming back at the end of the year and trying to win that match and get back in the World Group for the following year."
Enqvist had set the Swedes up for their surprise win when he demolished Philippoussis in the opening singles match on Friday.
Lleyton Hewitt squared the tie at 1-1 with a comfortable sets win over Soderling, which also equalled Adrian Quist's long-standing national record of 24 singles victories.
The visitors regained the initiative when Bjorkman and Joachim Johanssson beat Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge in a thrilling five set doubles match on Saturday.
Bjorkman, ranked 28th in the world, showed no signs of fatigue as he set about dismantling the world number nine Philippoussis.
The Swede broke in the 11th game to take the opening set then twice more in each of the second and third sets to seal his team's victory.
"I played really solid and never really gave him a chance," Bjorkman said. "I proved to many people that I'm still playing great tennis. When I play this tennis, I can beat a lot of guys out there."
Philippoussis became increasingly frustrated by his performance, smashing a racket and repeatedly arguing with the chair umpire.
"It's three days I want to try to put behind me," Philippoussis said. "This whole weekend feels like the twilight zone.
"Mentally I've just got to relax, it's the start of the year, there's no point feeling flat or tired now because it's a long year ahead of me."