Sun, Nov 30, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Australia wins in doubles

AP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Australia's Tood Woodbridge, right, and Wayne Arthurs celebrate their Davis Cup final doubles match victory against Spain's Alex Corretja and Feliciano Lopez at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

They played the correct national anthem at the Davis Cup final Saturday. After that, it was all downhill for Spain.

The established Australian doubles team of Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs easily beat Spain's Feliciano Lopez and Alex Corretja 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 to give Australia a 2-1 lead going into Sunday's reverse singles matches on grass at Rod Laver Arena.

Before Saturday's match, Australian officials played the current Spanish national anthem, trying to reverse an embarrassing gaffe at the opening ceremony that saw an outdated one played.

On Friday, Spanish officials were furious in the stands while the old version was played by a lone trumpeter -- Australian jazz legend James Morrison. They later demanded and received an apology from Australian officials, who admitted they gave Morrison the wrong anthem to learn.

The Spanish players stood quietly yesterday while the current anthem was played without incident. Minutes later, Corretja had his service broken for the first time and the Australian rout was on, giving the capacity crowd of just under 15,000 only 82 minutes of tennis. The title will be decided on Sunday when Mark Philippoussis takes on Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first reverse singles, followed by Lleyton Hewitt's match with Carlos Moya.

Hewitt gave Australia a 1-0 lead with a five-set win Friday over Ferrero while Moya beat Philippoussis in four sets to level the final after the first day.

Arthurs and Woodbridge, playing in their sixth Davis Cup match, broke veteran Corretja's serve in the fourth game of the opening set to go up 3-1. Lopez, playing in his first Davis Cup match, had only played one previous doubles match with Corretja.

The Australian pair broke Corretja again in the third game of the second set. At the end of the set, Corretja took an injury timeout to have a sore shoulder worked on by medical officials, but it only delayed the inevitable as Australia won the match easily.

Woodbridge's appearance set a record for matches in the nation's 84-year Davis Cup history. It was Woodbridge's 29th Davis Cup event for Australia, breaking the mark of 28 set by Adrian Quist between 1933 and 1939.

"I was calm and really focussed, and I had a lot of confidence in Wayne," Woodbridge said of Saturday's match. "I missed about two balls and that doesn't happen very often."

Ausssie captain John Fitzgerald said the Australian duo were nearly flawless.

"That was up there with the best of them," said Fitzgerald. "In sporting parlance, Todd has mastered the art of doubles. He's a little maestro."

This year, Woodbridge won his 78th doubles title on the ATP tour, equaling Tom Okker of the Netherlands for most career doubles titles since the start of the Open Era in 1968.

Corretja said he had a feeling Spain was in for a long day.

"We knew from the first point," said Corretja. "They played brilliantly. They were from another planet."

Fitzgerald said his team can take some confidence from the easy win into Sunday's remaining matches.

"You can take a lot of positive feelings away as a team when a part of it is playing that well," said Fitzgerald.

"But there is a mood of reservation, and no celebration in our lockerroom. There is a long way to go, these players are too good."

Spain beat Belgium in the first round of this year's competition, then defeated Croatia and Argentina to advance to the final. Australia won its opening match against Britain, then defeated Sweden before a semifinal win over Switzerland. Australia has won the Davis Cup 27 times, four behind the leading US. Spain's only win came in 2000 against Australia in Barcelona.

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