Tennis: Rosset serves Swiss purpose

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The Independent Online
MARC ROSSET, buoyed by frenzied fans and 27 aces, beat the world No 1 Jim Courier in a five-set match that lasted almost four-and-a-half hours to leave Switzerland level with the United States after the first day of the 1992 Davis Cup final in Fort Worth, Texas.

Andre Agassi had put the Americans 1-0 ahead in the opening singles against Jakob Hlasek, a match that was as quick as the second singles was long. Agassi overwhelmed Hlasek 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 28 minutes and even Swiss captain Dimitri Sturdza called his display 'magic'.

But Sturdza saved his highest praise for Rosset, who pulled off a surprise 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Courier in four hours and 23 minutes. The 6ft 5in Swiss player, who also beat Courier en route to the Olympic gold medal in Barcelona, said his big serve paid off most in the last two sets, when he was tired and needed to finish off the points.

In the 10-minute break after the third set, unique to Davis Cup, he went to the locker room and talked with his team-mates. 'I just thought about what we had done all week for preparation,' he said. 'I just said to myself, 'You cannot lose. You have to win this match'.'

One service break gave him the fourth set and he had two breaks to Courier's one in the fifth, serving out the match before falling over flat on to his back in disbelief. 'It was a match I will remember all my life,' Rosset said. More than 1,000 cowbell-wielding Swiss fans were in the 12,000 crowd at the Tarrant County Convention Center and he added: 'It was like playing in Switzerland. I fought until the last.'

Courier, whose Davis Cup record dropped to 2-5, was shaken and upset and grudgingly gave brief responses to questions in the post-match interview. 'I wish I played well,' he said afterwards.

Agassi, ranked ninth in the world, needed only an hour and 28 minutes to defeat Hlasek in one of the best performances of his career. 'I wish I could go play Marc Rosset right now,' he said.

'I think I had him a little frustrated,' said Agassi, who won his 10th straight Davis Cup match, improving his overall record to 19-4. 'I mean, there really wasn't too much I wasn't doing extremely well today. I wasn't expecting to play this well. This was a little bit more than I had hoped for.'

Hlasek did not have a break point against Agassi until the final game of the match and only reached deuce against the American's serve twice. But Hlasek said he was not discouraged. 'This is a team event,' he said. 'Just the first chapter has been written.'

Rosset and Hlasek, who have brought Switzerland to their first Davis Cup final, were due to team up against John McEnroe and Pete Sampras in the yesterday's doubles. They will need to call on all the inspiration Rosset showed against Courier to prevent the Americans winning their 30th Davis Cup title.

DAVIS CUP FINAL (Fort Worth, Texas): A Agassi (US) bt J Hlasek 6-1 6-2- 6-2; M Rosset (Swit) bt J Courier (US) 6-3 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-4.