Wimbledon: Bjorkman at his best

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The Independent Online
SWEDEN'S JONAS BJORKMAN gave himself the ideal warm-up for Wimbledon on Saturday, winning the Nottingham Open title by defeating Zimbabwe's Byron Black in straight sets.

The world No 9 beat Black 6-3, 6-2 to gain revenge for his defeat when the pair met in the third round at Queen's last week

The pair had both won semifinals indoors earlier in the afternoon, but a break in the weather allowed them to contest the final outside.

Bjorkman, the second seed, never allowed Black to settle, starting out with some big serves and breaking his opponent, the world No 40, in the third game of the first set.

The Swede then broke Black again after a stunning return of serve to take the first set.

He looked set to run away with the contest in the second when he took his first service game to love and then broke Black immediately. But the Zimbabwean rallied and, aided by a Bjorkman double-fault, broke back to trail 2-1.

Bjorkman came back to break again in the sixth game and then comfortably eased to a deserved victory.

"The last time I beat him [Black] was in Australia this year," Bjorkman said. "I was really serving well there and that's what I did today."

The Swedish No 1 said he was delighted to be running into form just ahead of Wimbledon.

"For this year, my biggest goal has been Wimbledon," said Bjorkman, who is seeded No 11 when Wimbledon starts today.

"I'm feeling very strong at the moment," he added. "I feel like I'm getting back my self-confidence, so it will be a different Jonas Bjorkman at Wimbledon."

Bjorkman, a semi-finalist at the US Open last year where he lost to Greg Rusedski, has struggled on grass at the All England Club, losing in the first rounds the last two years - and going out in the second in 1995.

Black said he was disappointed not to have rounded off the week by winning the Nottingham title, especially as he had beaten Bjorkman last week.

"I guess he wanted me after that." Black said. "He was serving really well and returning really well and he gave me no chance."