On this day: Sweden tops USA to write Davis Cup history



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On this day: Sweden tops USA to write Davis Cup history

A year after they lost the Davis Cup final against Australia on grass at Kooyong, Sweden returned stronger in 1984, scoring commanding victories against Ecuador, Paraguay, Czechoslovakia and the USA to become only the fifth country in Davis Cup history with multiple titles after the USA, Australia, France and Great Britain.

Between 1978-1982, the USA claimed four out of five Davis Cup crowns and they were in another final after missing it in 1983, traveling to the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg and trying to halt the young but rock-solid Swedish squad.

Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Anders Jarryd and Henrik Sundstrom were all younger than 23 and this promised to be one of the best Davis Cup finals considering the form of both squads in the opening three rounds. Still, the Americans had no weapons to fight against the host nation in front of their partisan crown and on a slow clay surface, with Sweden clinching a 4-1 victory to seal the deal and celebrate the second Davis Cup title.

Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Peter Fleming were there to fight for the USA, relying on McEnroe who had one of the best singles seasons in the history of the game, losing just two matches before the last Davis Cup weekend.

Also, this was the first and only full Davis Cup season for Jimmy Connors, never returning to the national squad again after this weekend and staying on just 13 Davis Cup encounters overall! On December 17, Mats Wilander and Henrik Sundstrom delivered the opening points for Sweden and it was all over when Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd toppled John McEnroe and Peter Fleming in the doubles encounter to wrap up a historic triumph for their country.

In the opening rubber, Mats Wilander defeated Jimmy Connors 6-1, 6-3, 6-3, making a great transition from grass after winning the Australian Open a week earlier and controlling the scoreboard all the time. This was the 13th straight Davis Cup singles win for Mats after that epic 1982 clash against John McEnroe that he lost 8-6 in the fifth set, dominating in 1983 and 1984 to make a name for himself despite only turning 20.

In the semi-final against Czechoslovakia, Henrik Sundstrom came back from two sets to love down against Ivan Lendl, delivering his fifth singles win in the 1984 Davis Cup campaign following a 13-11, 6-4, 6-3 win over John McEnroe in three hours and 41 minutes to send Sweden 2-0 up after the opening day.

This was only the third defeat for McEnroe in his fantastic season and it came after a thrilling opening set that lasted for two hours alone and where he had set points at 8-7 and 11-10. The Swede was able to match rival's pace and stay calm in the crucial moments, firing four winners to overcome a 40-15 deficit in the 16th game and prolong the opening set.

Carried by this momentum, he broke John in the 19th game to move 10-9 up, only to hit a double fault in the next game to give his serve away and keep the American in contention. In the end, Henrik won the set 13-11, clinching the second 6-4 to open up a considerable lead and move closer to the finish line.

John was off to a better start in the third set, running 3-1 in front before Sundstrom broke back in the next game to reduce the deficit and stay on the positive side of the scoreboard. An amazing backhand return winner pushed the Swede 4-3 ahead, landing a backhand down the line winner in game nine for another break and victory, one of the most important of his career.

On the following day, John McEnroe and Peter Fleming were beaten for the first time in 15 Davis Cup doubles rubbers, with Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd forging a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 triumph in three hours to secure the third point for Sweden and celebrate the title.

Stefan Edberg was the youngest player on the court (this was his first Davis Cup season) but proved to be the strongest link in the Swedish chain, never losing serve and taking some important points for another stunning win after a hard-fought triumph over Pavel Slozil and Tomas Smid in the semis in five sets.

The Americans had 51 service winners but they were beaten at the net, facing 16 break chances and giving serve away six times overall. The Swedes saved 11 out of 14 break chances to limit the damage in their games, prevailing in the closing moments of the fourth set to wrap up the encounter and start a huge celebration.

There were no breaks in the opening 11 games and it was Fleming who cracked under pressure, getting broken at 5-6 after a smash winner from Edberg who pushed Sweden in front. McEnroe delivered a break at 3-3 in the second set after a volley winner but suffered a break while serving for the set at 5-4, keeping the youngsters alive and with no room for errors in the rest of the set.

Jarryd hit a double fault to get broken in the next game and it was Fleming who secured the set for the USA, leveling the score at 1-1 and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter. The Swedes remained focused and earned the advantage in the fourth game of the third set after a costly double fault from Fleming, never looking back from there to clinch the set 6-2 when they broke the tall American once again at 5-2.

The players went off from the court for a break (it was usual back then in the Davis Cup after the third set) and they were toe to toe until 5-4 in the fourth set when McEnroe served to keep the USA in the match. Facing three match points, he grabbed five straight points to bring the game home after an ace, leveling the score at 5-5 before Fleming ruined them again in game 12 following another double fault, handing the win to their rivals who could now share the joy and success with the packed crowd.