Tennis: France, Sweden upset the odds

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QUALIFIERS FRANCE caused the second upset of the day at the Hopman Cup mixed teams tournament when they beat top seeds Spain 2-1 in Perth yesterday. France's pairing of Guillaume Raoux and Sandrine Testud upstaged Carlos Moya and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 7-5, 7-5 in the mixed doubles to clinch the victory.

Testud ensured France held the upper hand from the outset when she overcame a sluggish Sanchez-Vicario, 6-1, 6-3. Moya, despite suffering from a cold, had beaten a determined Raoux 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in an enthralling match to level the scores.

Earlier, Sweden pulled off a surprise victory over the second-seeded United States team of Lindsay Davenport and Jan-Michael Gambill. The Americans took a 1-0 lead when Davenport thrashed Asa Carlsson 6-2, 6-0, but that advantage was quickly erased by the world No 4, Jonas Bjorkman, who beat Gambill 6-2, 6-4.

Bjorkman, a player who thrives on a heavy schedule, then piloted the underdogs to victory in the mixed doubles, with the Swedes prevailing 7-6, 6-4.

Gambill was unhappy at the officiating, complaining that one call in the tie-break was, "the worst I've ever seen". But there was another problem, and the real reason the Americans lost. "In the second set I double-faulted three times in one game, and you can't do that and win a match," he said.

That gave the Swedes a break for 5-4, and Bjorkman served out for the match. It was the first time Bjorkman had played mixed doubles, but he spent some time practising and discussing tactics with Carlsson, and it paid off. Their plan was for Bjorkman to crouch low at the net every time Carlsson served and to leap up and knock off a winning volley.

"Jonas was definitely the key at the net," Gambill said. "He was in the middle of the court and it was really hard knowing where to hit the return."

The only cloud on Bjorkman's horizon is a problem with his right hamstring.