Tue, Apr 13, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Roddick breaks own serve world record

SMASHING DISPLAY The world No. 2 powered past Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman with his thundering serve, putting the US into the semifinals of the Davis Cup

REUTERS , LONDON

Andy Roddick poses in front of the radar scoreboard with his record-breaking 152mph (244.6kph) serve for match point still on the board.

PHOTO: EPA

World number two Andy Roddick powered the US into the semifinals of the Davis Cup by defeating Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman 7-6 6-4 6-0 at Delray Beach, Florida on Sunday.

Roddick broke his world-record serve, thumping a delivery measured at 152mph, before closing out victory on his first match point. Mardy Fish then beat Thomas Johansson 3-6 6-1 6-4 to earn the US a 4-1 win and a date with Belarus in the last four.

Nicolas Escude overcame stubborn resistance from Switzerland's Michel Kratochvil to book France a place in the semi-finals against Spain.

Escude, the architect of France's surprise victory over Australia in the 2001 final, was once again France's hero as he edged Kratochvil 7-6 6-4 7-6 in the deciding fifth rubber to snatch a 3-2 win in Lausanne.

The result avenged France's defeat by Switzerland at the same stage last year. Escude has never lost in six final rubbers.

French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero secured Spain's victory by fighting back from two-sets-to-one down to beat Dutchman Martin Verkerk in Palma.

"It was a difficult match with a lot of pressure and a lot of noise from the crowd. But I stayed strong and I am very proud to have got the point that won the match," said Escude.

Roger Federer had earlier kept alive Swiss hopes of reaching the semis for the second year running when he levelled the tie with a 6-2 7-5 6-4 win over Arnaud Clement on the hard court.

Roddick showed why US captain Patrick McEnroe believes his team can claim their country's first Davis Cup since 1995.

Having already hauled the US level at 1-1 after Bjorkman beat Fish in the opening singles on Friday, Roddick absorbed the Swede's best efforts early on before dismissing his experienced opponent.

Fastest men's serves

1. Andy Roddick (US) 244.6kph

2. Andy Roddick (US) 241.4kph

3. Andy Roddick (US) 239.7kph

4. Greg Rusedski (Britain) 239.7kph

5. Taylor Dent (US) 232kph


He even finished with a flourish when he extended his own serving speed world record from 241.4kph to 244.6kph.

"Jonas came out hard but after the first set I felt comfortable," Roddick told ESPN.

"The third set was one of the best sets I've ever played."

The US have won the men's team competition a record 31 times.

World Group newcomers Belarus, who knocked out 2002 champions Russia in the first round, completed Argentina's humiliation in Minsk with a 5-0 whitewash.

Spurred on by a noisy contingent of orange-clad Dutch fans, Verkerk appeared well-placed to avenge his 2003 French Open final defeat by Ferrero but he eventually ran out of steam and succumbed 6-4 6-7 4-6 7-5 6-1.

World number three Ferrero, returning to action following a bout of chicken pox, claimed victory in just over four hours to hand Spain a 3-1 lead on his favorite clay surface.

Ferrero took the opening set but lost the next two as the big-serving Verkerk found his rhythm in the converted bullring.

The Spaniard edged the fourth and then stepped up the pressure to break the Verkerk serve twice on the way to victory.

"I feel tired now ... the match against Ferrero was the toughest one I have played this weekend and it is disappointing to end it this way," said Verkerk.

"Whenever I see Ferrero I get wary because I got my ass kicked at Roland Garros by him ... so he is like a nightmare for me.

"This time I wanted to show him that I can beat him and I think I did that today -- the only thing I didn't do is win. But I played to the same level as him and sometimes even better."

The Netherlands had staged an impressive recovery from two sets down to win the rain-delayed doubles and force the tie into a fourth rubber.

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