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Davis Cup: Zimbabwe Beats Australia

April 5, 1998

MILDURA, Australia (AP) _ Brothers Byron and Wayne Black led Zimbabwe to a shock victory over Australia on Sunday in the country’s first appearance in the Davis Cup World Group.

The duo played all of the tie and both won reverse singles contests Sunday after Australia led 2-1 following Friday’s singles and Saturday’s doubles.

Australia’s U.S. Open champion Pat Rafter, beaten by Byron Black on Friday, controversially withdrew before the start of play Sunday because of a virus.

He was replaced by doubles specialist Mark Woodforde, who was beaten by Wayne Black, 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (7-5), 6-4.

Byron Black then downed Jason Stoltenberg 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to give the Africans a famous victory over last year’s semifinalist.

``I’m still trying to take it all in right now,″ said an emotional Byron Black. ``We came here not expecting too much _ I think we did the impossible.″

Australia ranks second behind the United States for Davis Cup victories and was favored for an easy win on its preferred grass courts.

``I want to cry right now,″ said Wayne Black. ``It’s just magic, magic.″

Zimbabwe will play the winner of the Italy-India tie in the next round. Italy held a 2-1 lead at the end of the doubles in Genoa.

Australia, divided before the tie by criticism from absent star Mark Philippoussis, must win a qualifying round in September to try to remain in the World Group.

Rafter’s withdrawal an hour before Sunday’s reverse singles upset Zimbabwe captain Gavin Siney, who said the No. 4-ranked player should have played because he entered the tie with a virus.

``Basically we weren’t that happy with it,″ Siney said. ``But once we knew Mark was going to play we blanked it out because Wayne thought he had a good chance against Mark.″

Woodforde was also not happy about the late decision to substitute him for Rafter.

``I was told this morning,″ Woodforde said. ``It doesn’t make it easy at all.

``I’m not angry at Pat whatsoever. It was such a short time to prepare yourself for such a big match when you’ve just come off doubles.″

Woodforde also hit out at Philippoussis, who attacked Rafter and Australia’s brains trust John Newcombe and Tony Roche, on the eve of the tie.

Philippoussis turned out to watch the match in country Victoria, but had decided not to make himself available.

``I didn’t underestimate Zimbabwe and I doubt that Pat and Jason and Newk did. Maybe Mr. Philippoussis did,″ Woodforde said. ``But he can do whatever he wants.″

Stoltenberg said his loss was ``pretty hard to swallow.″

``Life goes on and I’ve got to pick myself up but it’s going to hurt for a while,″ Stoltenberg said.

Byron Black suggested the win might help tennis surpass soccer as his country’s favorite sport.

``It will hit me in a few days time but what we’ve done today is a miracle,″ he said.


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