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Roddick sets new serve record at 152 mph

4/11/2004

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Andy Roddick's final serve set a
record, and a celebratory final forehand sent his racket into the
stands.

Finishing with a flourish, Roddick beat Jonas Bjorkman in
straight sets Sunday to clinch a U.S. victory over Sweden in the
Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Roddick came from behind to take a grueling first set, then wore
down a weary Bjorkman to win 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-0, giving the
Americans an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five match.

Mardy Fish made the final score 4-1 by beating Thomas Johansson
3-6, 6-1, 6-4. The Americans will host a semifinal Sept. 24-26
against Belarus, which swept Argentina 5-0 in Minsk.

"It's a chance to take this dream one step further," Roddick
said. The United States is aiming for its first title since 1995.

Roddick saved his biggest shot for match point, when he hit a
152-mph serve, breaking the record of 150 he set in a Davis Cup
match in February.

"I knew I had it in my arm," he said. "I thought I'd take a
crack at it that last game."

Bjorkman somehow managed to get his return in play.

"It wasn't too hard -- you just have to put the racket there,"
the Swede said with a smile.

When the rally ended with a Bjorkman backhand into the net, the
U.S. celebration began. Roddick flung his racket to the fans,
climbed into the stands in search of his teammates and discovered
they were on the court. He joined them there and led the victory
lap, whooping and wagging his tongue along the way.

It was the second Sunday celebration in a row for Roddick, who
won his first Key Biscayne title a week ago. And it was an
impressive U.S. victory over a Swedish team that upset defending
champion Australia in the first round.

The Americans took a 2-1 lead thanks to a doubles victory
Saturday by Bob and Mike Bryan, leaving the match on the racket of
their best player. The sunbaked hard court was home turf for
Roddick, who grew up in nearby Boca Raton, and he started strong,
with an ace followed by three consecutive service winners.

Drums, horns and chants provided the soundtrack, and Roddick
repeatedly played to the lively partisan crowd. He broke in the
next game for a 2-0 lead, then waved an index finger to the fans.

"The crowd was just amazing," Roddick said. "Sometimes after
a point you could yell whatever you wanted, and no one would hear
you because the crowd would drown it out."

Bjorkman rallied and was up a break at 4-3 before Roddick
rallied. In the tiebreaker he chased down four volleys by Bjorkman
during one exchange, finally hitting a forehand winner for a 2-1
lead that put him ahead to stay.

After a one-hour opening set, the rest seemed easy for Roddick,
who lost only 10 points in the final set.

"That last set was one of the best sets I've ever played, for
sure," Roddick said. "My instincts took over. It was amazing. It
was like whatever shot I tried was working."

Not everything went Roddick's way. He ran into a linesman behind
the baseline chasing a shot, lost the point and gave the official
an earful. In the tiebreaker he hit a 148-mph serve, and Bjorkman
still managed to win the point.

But in humid, 85-degree weather, Roddick was too strong for the
32-year-old Bjorkman, who played 10 sets in three days. Roddick
dominated with his serve, as usual, but also committed only 11
unforced errors and moved well.

"Andy played some great tennis," Bjorkman said. "He's got a
lot of confidence right now."

Roddick swept his six sets against the Swedes and improved to
4-0 when in a position to clinch a Davis Cup victory for the
Americans.

"He has the ability to raise his level," U.S. captain Patrick
McEnroe said. "All the great players have had that."

The Americans improved to 36-0 since 1987 when taking a lead
into Sunday.

The other Davis Cup semifinal will be between Spain and France.
Spain beat the Netherlands 4-1, and France defeated Switzerland
3-2.