Petchey and Wood win at Beckenham

Mark Petchey completed a long-awaited British double by defeating Petr Korda 6-2, 6-4 in the final of the Beckenham Open yesterday. It is the first time this century that British players have won both Beckenham singles titles as Petchey's triumph came 24 hours after Clare Wood captured the women's crown.

But the champagne Petchey received along with his pounds 5,000 cheque will stay unopened for several weeks. Petchey will postpone his celebrations until after next week's Stella Artois Championship at Queen's Club, the Nottingham Open and Wimbledon.

"The champagne will have to stay on ice," Petchey grinned. "You can't celebrate much or you'd never get up next morning, especially in this heat. Neither Clare nor I expected to win but it has turned out to be a great start to the grass-court season for British players."

Both Petchey and Wood swept to Beckenham success unseeded. Brighton's Wood, 28, beat the sixth seed Maria Vento of Venezuela 6-3, 6-2 to become the first home women's singles winner since Ann Jones in 1967, while Petchey is the first Briton to win the men's singles final since Murray Deloford in 1939.

Chris Bailey and Jeremy Bates failed in recent finals and Andrew Richardson had to share the title with Korda last year when rain prevented any play.

Petchey intelligently cramped Korda for room by serving into the Czech's body and reeled off a series of back-hand winners.

Korda recently led the Czech Republic to a surprise Davis Cup victory over America but he soon became rattled under pressure and received a code violation warning after whacking a ball out of court into a nearby road in frustration.

Petchey's Beckenham victims also included the British No 1, Tim Henman. He is full of confidence and eager for more success in the Stella tournament, which begins today.

He will start there against the 117th-ranked Italian Gianluca Pozzi and is in the same half of the draw as Boris Becker, Wayne Ferreira and Michael Stich, runner-up in the French Open.

Henman starts against the 16th-seeded Argentinian, Javier Frana, while Greg Rusedski plays a qualifier, Jeremy Bates meets the American Jared Palmer and Danny Sapsford takes on the London-based Swede Stefan Edberg at the first hurdle.

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