Woodforde cuts short Davis Cup career

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The Independent Online

Australian doubles star Mark Woodforde has almost certainly played his final Davis Cup match.

Australian doubles star Mark Woodforde has almost certainly played his final Davis Cup match.

Woodforde had vowed to quit Davis Cup play if Australia lifted the trophy for the first time in 13 years - which they duly did by completing their victory over France in the final yesterday.

The 34-year-old left-hander teamed up with his longtime partner Todd Woodbridge to defeat Fabrice Santoro and Olivier Delaitre in four sets on Saturday to give Australia a 2-1 lead and then watched as Mark Philippoussis beat Cedric Pioline 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-2 to seal the first Aussie triumph since 1986.

Although Sebastien Grosjean salvaged some Gallic pride by beating Hewitt 6-4 6-3 in the dead rubber the 3-2 score ensured Australia lifted the trophy for the 27th time, a record bettered only by the United States.

While Woodforde has played his last Davis Cup match, barring emergencies, he plans to partner Woodbridge in a bid to win a second Olympic gold medal in Sydney next year.

The pair also plan to play selected ATP Tour events next season, but Woodforde has decided that 12 years of playing in the Davis Cup is enough after finally earning a winners' medal.

"I'm not a glutton," Woodforde said. "It's been great playing the whole time at the Davis Cup, but I think sometimes enough is enough.

"It would be great to go out knowing that we have won as a team, give a chance to somebody else.

"Todd and I have been the backbone for so long and I would just like to see somebody else play - because that is the future. I'll be happy to hand over my spot."

Woodforde won 10 Grand Slam doubles titles in his career, including nine with Woodbridge and one with John McEnroe.

Woodforde and Woodbridge have an amazing 14-2 Davis Cup record as a pair - and are unbeaten since 1994 in Cup play.

The red-headed Woodforde made his Davis Cup debut in singles in 1988 but has a 4-10 record when playing on his own. He has been far more successful in doubles.

He has won just four singles title on the ATP Tour - including two in his hometown of Adelaide - but 59 doubles titles in a career that has seen him earn almost 8 million US dollars in prizemoney.

Woodbridge said the win over Santoro and Delaitre was especially exciting because it put the Australians on the brink of their first Davis Cup title since 1986 - after a year in which the pair has played well below their usual form.

The French pair led by a set and 5-3 and held a set point for the second set before the Australians swept back to take 16 of the last 20 games and win 2-6 7-5 6-2 6-2.

"I think for both of us it was probably one of our most rewarding victories," Woodbridge said.

"I'd never seen Mark so emotional as when we won."

Woodforde said he found the moment among the most thrilling of his career.

"How exciting is it to come back after playing crappy tennis for most of the year?" he asked. "Once we had that opportunity we grabbed it."