Roddick helps Americans tie Swedes

Updated: April 10, 2004, 1:23 AM ET
Associated Press

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish concluded a long day's work for the U.S. Davis Cup team by exchanging courtside high-fives, more in relief than jubilation.

Roddick beat Thomas Enqvist 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 Friday night, leaving the Americans tied 1-all with Sweden in the best-of-five quarterfinal.

Fish lost the first match to Jonas Bjorkman, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, then watched from the first row as Roddick evened the score.

"They put us in a position where our backs were kind of against the wall," Roddick said. "There's not much I could do but go out and try to win a tennis match."

Counting four rain delays that totaled more than three hours, the two matches took nearly nine hours to complete. And when the Americans needed a comeback, Roddick came through.

"If you're down 0-1, this is the guy you want," U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said.

The battle of attrition resumes Saturday. Bjorkman, who spent nearly three hours on the court against Fish, will play doubles 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.

Roddick mixed slice backhands and loopy forehands with his usual assortment of overpowering strokes to keep Enqvist off balance. By the third set, the normally stoic Swede was so frustrated that he launched a ball skyward and received a code violation.

"At first I just wanted to play my game," Roddick said. "I was hitting well, but he was hitting better. So I thought I'd mix it up a little bit, then try to get back into my normal game, and that ended up working for me."

Roddick twice lost serve early, falling behind 2-1 and 4-3. But he held the rest of the match and took each of the first two sets with a service break in the final game, thanks largely to unforced errors by Enqvist.

"I played well the first two sets, and I had my chances," Enqvist said.

The mood for the matches 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 more than two dozen friends and relatives of Fish and Roddick, who attended high school together in nearby Boca Raton.

"I would look up and see faces I've known since I was 10 years old," Roddick said. "It's a good groove playing at home."

Fish failed to make much of the homecourt advantage against Bjorkman, who improved to 34-14 in Davis Cup singles and doubles, including 6-0 against Americans. The 32-year-old Swede drew on his experience against Fish, 22, 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."

Bjorkman shrugged off a disputed call on the next-to-last point in his 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."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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