Bjorkman Beats Chang at Davis Cup
GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) _ Jonas Bjorkman turned the match around in the third set to beat Michael Chang 7-5, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 today and give Sweden a 1-0 lead over the United States in their Davis Cup final.
In the second singles of the best-of-5 series, Pete Sampras played Magnus Larsson.
Carried by a partisan home crowd of more than 11,000 and playing some solid tennis, Bjorkman broke Chang’s serve three times in the final set and converted his second match point to win in two hours, 53 minutes.
``It’s incredible,″ Bjorkman said. ``It makes all the training worthwhile.″
Bjorkman, who has rocketed from No. 69 to No. 4 in the world this year, also beat Chang in their last meeting at the ATP Tour Championship in Hanover, Germany, earlier this month.
The Swede said today’s victory was ``the biggest win for me″ in Davis Cup play. He was a substitute last year but has carried Sweden’s team this year.
Chang said he was disappointed to let the team down. ``I wasn’t able to win the crucial points.″
``It’s always important to get off to a good start and I wasn’t able to do that today,″ he said.
The first set lasted one hour and 10 minutes, longer than some two-set matches. In a match of two good returners, all but three games went to one or more deuces.
There were some spectacular rallies and extraordinary points, such as when an air-borne Chang hit a winner off a wrong foot.
Chang, No. 3 in the world, dropped his serve to trail 6-5, in a game that included a doublefault perhaps caused by one of the paper planes occasionally hurled onto the court from the crowd.
Bjorkman used his chance and served out the long set.
But the American recovered quickly to break serve for a 2-0 lead and rolled through the second set in just 26 minutes.
Chang led 3-1 in the third set and was one point away from a 4-2 lead when the match turned around.
Bjorkman slipped on the fast indoor carpet near the net but still recovered to win the point. Chang then went on to drop his serve and Bjorkman tied the score at 3-3.
``That was a big turnaround,″ Bjorkman said. ``When I got the break back, I had to feel that I was in the match again.″
Chang agreed. ``It was a pretty important point. It was the turning point of the match probably,″ he said.
The Swede served out the set without problems, hitting two service winners in a row.
The fourth started with a swap of breaks and Bjorkman took a 4-3 lead on another.
Serving to stay in the match, Chang had a doublefault that made it 30-30. A volley by Bjorkman gave the Swede his first match point, but he wasted it by hitting a forehand long. A forehand winner set up another and Chang dropped the match when he hit a volley into the net.
The doubles are slated for Saturday and reverse singles are on Sunday.
The Americans have bleak memories of Goteborg, the city on Sweden’s western coast where they lost a semifinal match in 1994 and a final in 1984, their only two defeats to Sweden against seven wins.
The United States is by far the most successful nation in the most prestigious tennis team competition, making its 59th appearance in he final.
The Americans have won the coveted title a record 31 times. Australia is next best, with 26 victories.
The last time the Americans won the title was in 1995.
Sweden, runner-up to France last year, is in its 11th Davis Cup final and has won the title five times, the last coming in 1994.