ALL THE JEWELS IN SWEDEN'S CROWN
Sweden have won the Davis Cup for the third time in four years. Their fifth consecutive final was a non-event, because Ramesh Krishnan and the brothers Vijay and Anand Amritraj, both part-timers in their middle thirties, were predictably outclassed. After two days Sweden were 3-0 up which made the reverse singles irrelevant. It may be some consolation to the embarrassed Indians that a stronger United States team were similarly humiliated in the 1984 final; contested in the same arena on the same kind of court, an admirable shale surface installed to suit the Swedes.* On each occasion Sweden conceded only the second set of the doubles in achieving an impregnable 3-0 lead.
On the first day Mats Wilander beat Krishnan 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 and Anders Jarryd beat Vijay Amritraj 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Yesterday Wilander and Joakim Nystrom dotted the i's and crossed the t's with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over the Amritraj brothers, who were allowed to play well in the second set. Stefan Edberg, who might have played both singles and (with Jarryd) doubles, ricked an ankle in practice. There was no need for Sweden in general or Edberg in particular to take any risks. The reserve doubles team, Nystrom and Wilander, were Wimbledon champions in 1986. Sweden's depth of talent is such that they could probably choose three or four teams capable of beating India, certainly on the surface used here.
For two reasons, this was a freak final. India's advance, based on making the most of a good draw and ties played on grass, was similar to Britain's progress to the 1978 final against the U.S. That was also the last final featuring brothers - in 1978, David and John Lloyd. The harsh truth about India is that rather than contesting the final they should be struggling to stay in the first division. But this year's competition has some strange consequences; notably the fact that the U.S., twice beaten, have been relegated.
The doubles had a light-hearted prelude when, during the warm-up, Vijay Amritraj borrowed the Swedish cheerleader's blue and yellow cap. But there was nothing lighthearted about the match. The Swedes broke Anand's service twice in the first set but, in the second, became too passive - as if expecting success to drop into their laps, rather than making a positive effort to grab it. Nystrom and Wilander lost ten consecutive points on their own services as the Amritraj brothers, under no great pressure, played crisply effective tennis. They used the tandem formation when serving to Nystrom in the deuce court. The Indians were playing from memory but their memories were improving all the time. Nystrom and Wilander took the hint. They came out for the third set hitting harder, moving faster, and increasing the pressure in every way they could. They won 13 of the first 15 points in that set and continued to play doubles of a class - and at a speed - the Indians could not even hope to match.
(Observer, 20th December, 1987)
* The Swedes did not just win on clay! These players won Davis Cup ties on all different surfaces and in the 1985 final they beat Germany in Munich on a very fast indoor carpet - "Spider".