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Bjorkman tops fish in Davis Cup matchup
Updated: 2004-04-10 14:37

Homecourt advantage failed to help Mardy Fish, who was beaten by Jonas Bjorkman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 Friday, giving Sweden a 1-0 lead over the United States in their best-of-five Davis Cup quarterfinal.

The 32-year-old Bjorkman improved to 34-14 in Davis Cup singles and doubles, including 6-0 against Americans. He drew on his experience against Fish, a 22-year-old Floridian playing just his fourth Davis Cup singles match.

"He gives you constant pressure with his ability to do everything volley, stay back," Fish said. "I tried to mix it up, because that's what he's doing to me."

With three rain delays totaling almost three hours, the match took nearly six hours to play. Andy Roddick was to play Thomas Enqvist in the second singles match Friday.

Bjorkman will play doubles Saturday with Thomas Johansson against top-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan.

"Hopefully I tired him a lot for the doubles," Fish said.

Elsewhere Friday, Belarus took a 2-0 lead over Argentina in Minsk. The winner will play the U.S.-Sweden winner in September.

Spain, the runner-up last year, took a 2-0 lead over the Netherlands. France and Switzerland were at 1-all.

The mood at the start of the Fish-Bjorkman match was festive, with air horns, ThunderStix and chants creating a typically noisy Davis Cup atmosphere.

The crowd included Dwight Davis II, grandson of Davis Cup founder Dwight Davis, and 92-year-old Sidney Wood of Palm Beach, the oldest living former U.S. Davis Cup player. Also on hand were 20 friends and relatives of Fish, who attended high school in nearby Boca Raton.

In the final set, Fish overcame a match point serving at 3-5, and when he broke Bjorkman for 5-all, the crowd erupted. But the Swede broke back, then closed out the victory with three deft volleys in the last game.

Bjorkman shrugged off a disputed call on the next-to-last point in the opening set. He dominated at the net and returned better as the match progressed, despite 19 aces by Fish.

"I managed to adjust from what he did in the beginning," Bjorkman said. "He was really teeing off, and I was having a hard time getting into my game. I'm really happy with the way I turned it around."

Fish broke Bjorkman in the first game and hitting four aces to win the second. But beginning with the second set, Fish was broken four times during a stretch of eight service games.

The American's first double fault gave Bjorkman an opening early in the second set, and the Swede broke for the first time to lead 2-0.

Another Fish double fault led to a break for Bjorkman that put him ahead to stay at 2-1 in the third set. Fish's groundstrokes became more erratic, and he converted just three of 12 break-point chances.

"I had my chances," Fish said. "I took advantage of some of them."

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