Bjorkman, Woodbridge win doubles
Updated: Thursday February 08, 2001 4:49 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia (CNNSI) -- Todd Woodbridge finally secured the milestone that escaped him during his longtime doubles partnership with Mark Woodforde.
Woodbridge teamed Saturday with Jonas Bjorkman to win the Australian Open doubles title, boosting his career Grand Slam tally to 12 and equaling the number of majors Woodforde won before retiring late last year.
The Woodbridge-Bjorkman combination, established earlier this month, had the boisterous support of visiting Swedish fans and the partisan home crowd as they overcame Byron Black and David Prinosil 6-1, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
"It's a lot different for me because it's the first Slam since the 1980s that I've played with a different partner," Woodbridge said.
For Bjorkman, it was a third Australian Open doubles crown in the last four years, all with different partners.
The Swede teamed with Jacco Eltingh in 1998 to beat Woodbridge and Woodforde in the final, depriving the Aussie pair of a third Australian Open championship.
In 1999, Bjorkman and Australia's Pat Rafter upset the then top-ranked partnership of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes of India.
Black, playing his 37th consecutive Grand Slam doubles tournament -- dating back 1992 -- was teaming with Prinosil for the first time. The loss gave him a 1-3 record in Grand Slam finals.
Earning a break to go up 5-4 in the fourth, Bjorkman produced the trademark Swedish salute, the vicht, that Mats Wilander introduced to the tennis public in the 1980s.
The traveling Swedes loved it, the boom coming from the 15,000-strong crowd peaking as Woodbridge served for the match.
Bjorkman drilled successive winners at the net for a 30-0 lead and when Black miscued a backhand at match point, Woodbridge and Bjorkman celebrated with their individual victory dances.
"They were just too good in the end," said Black.
Woodbridge and Woodforde won 11 Grand Slam doubles titles as a team, one short of the all-time record. Together they played in 15 finals at the majors.
"Thanks Jonas. I guess you had some pretty big shoes to fill and you seemed to have filled them very quickly," the 29-year-old Woodbridge said in his victory speech.
Of his new alliance with Bjorkman, he said it was finally good to have the fanatical Swedish crowd behind him for a change.
Bjorkman is "bringing me out of my shell," he said. "I have to go and dance on the court ... occasionally I put my hat on backwards, let my shirt hang out -- all that stuff I never did before. He's a lot of fun."
Bjorkman said his combination with Woodforde would hopefully lead to another Grand Slam doubles title, this time outside of Melbourne Park.
He has made doubles finals at the U.S. Open and at Roland Garros but never taken out any other Grand Slam doubles crown. Woodbridge has won doubles titles at all four Grand Slams.
Woodbridge-Bjorkman took the first set in 35 minutes after taking an early service break and then holding for 4-1 when Bjorkman saved a break point and then closed out in a game that went to deuce six times.
They rallied from 3-5 in the second before Bjorkman was broken in the 12th game to surrender the set. Woodbridge and Bjorkman clinched the third after the teams exchanged breaks and then took out the deciding set in 37 minutes.
Woodbridge and Bjorkman share A$345,400 (US$196,900) in prize money. Black and Prinosil will split the runners-up purse of A$172,700.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.