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Bjorkman beats Moya in rain-delayed final

August 18, 1997

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Jonas Bjorkman’s bid to become the first double winner in the RCA Championships came up short Sunday as the 25-year-old Swede won the singles final, while settling for runner-up honors in doubles.

In the singles final, the rain came at the wrong time for Spain’s Carlos Moya, depriving him of the only momentum he had in his match with the ninth-seeded Bjorkman, who beat the fifth-seeded Moya 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

The start of the singles match was delayed about 90 minutes by rain. Then it was halted for another 30 minutes in the second set by another shower which began just after Moya recorded his only service break of the match.

``I was starting to play better and better. ... Just when I broke him it started to rain ... and then to the lockerroom,″ Moya said. ``I think it maybe was the key of the match.″

The victory was worth $150,000 to Bjorkman, pushing his singles earnings for the year to $583,217. However, he had no time to celebrate as he was seeking to become the first player to win the singles and doubles titles at the Indianapolis Tennis Center since it was converted from clay to hardcourts in 1988.

But, the team of Mikael Tillstrom of Sweden and Michael Tebbutt of Australia defeated Bjorkman and countryman Nicklas Kulti 6-3, 6-2.

The champions, who never played together until last weekend’s qualifying tournament, had reached the finals with an upset Saturday over the world’s top-ranked doubles team of Australian’s Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.

The championship team was formed following a conversation between Tebbutt and Tillstrom’s coach, Hans Simonsson, as the two traveled to Indianapolis by bus from Cincinnati. Tebbutt told Simonsson he needed a partner for the tournament and the result was each player picked up $62,000 after for their two victories in the qualifying tournament and five victories in the main draw.

Before the match Bjorkman, currently 23rd in the ATP world rankings, didn’t think the quick turnaround would be difficult.

``It’s not hard at all. It’s the easiest way,″ he said. ``After winning the (singles) title, I can just go out there and enjoy myself,″ Bjorkman said.

Bjorkman had lost to Moya in their two previous matches on the tour.

``I felt really strong today. The other times I had a lot of problems,″ Bjorkman said.

Bjorkman had only two break points against him and won 79 percent of his first serve points. He capitalized on his aggressive style to win 35 points in the 48 times he came to the net.

``I played really good from the baseline. I had a chance to move Carlos around, instead of him moving me around like last time,″ said Bjorkman, who won his second singles title in four tries.

Moya, winless in four trips to the finals this year _ including a loss to Pete Sampras in this year’s Australian Open _ credited Bjorkman’s returns for his victory.

``Even when I put the first serve in, he was returning and going to net,″ Moya said ``My opponents don’t do that very often. ... His return is one of the best in the world. ... Jonas requires you to concentrate and because he’s going to the net, and once he gets to the net, it’s very difficult to pass him.″

Bjorkman, who lost only one set in his six matches, broke Moya in the opening game of the match, then held all three of his service games and closed out the 33-minute set on a double fault by Moya.

Bjorkman broke Moya immediately after play resumed to tie the set and each held to force the tiebreaker. Bjorkman gained one minibreak in the tiebreaker to go up 2-1. Moya tied the set again by winning the next point on Bjorkman’s serve and the score was tied 3-3 before the champion captured the next four points.

``I think he was really tired at the end. He started to make mistakes,″ Moya said. ``But I didn’t take chances. He went to the net (at 2-2) and made an overhead. I lost it. ... I made some stupid mistakes. I didn’t win because of stupid mistakes.″

Moya, ranked ninth in the world heading into the tournament, earned $80,000 as his match record for the year slipped to 42-20. That raised his singles earnings for the year to $692,010. Bjorkman, who will move into the Top 20 in the rankings for the first time ever with the victory, moved to 45-18.

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