Originally created 11/29/03

Spain-Australia split as Davis Cup starts on wrong note

MELBOURNE, Australia -- When the Spanish national anthem started to play, Juan Carlos Ferrero looked puzzled. His country's sports minister was furious, waving his arms from the stands as the long-outdated version of the song blared.

It was an embarrassing gaffe on the first day of the Davis Cup final, which ended Friday with Spain salvaging a 1-1 split with Australia.

Long before Carlos Moya won the second singles to offset an opening victory by Lleyton Hewitt, nationalistic sensibilities were ruffled at tennis' premier team event.

The old Spanish national anthem played during the opening ceremony - the Himno de Riego, from Spain's first republic - rankled Sports Minister Juan Antonio Gomez-Angulo, who began yelling as soon as he heard the first few notes at Rod Laver Arena.

"I was quite surprised," Ferrero said. "I had never heard that before. It was a big mistake, but I had to keep my mind focused on the match ahead."

The correct anthem was then played, and Tennis Australia said the anthems will be repeated Saturday and Sunday as a "mark of respect." Geoff Pollard, president of the governing body, called the mix-up a "regrettable occurrence."

Australia opened the best-of-five series with Hewitt's 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (0), 6-2 victory over Ferrero. Moya then beat Mark Philippoussis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4).

On Saturday, Australia's Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs will face Feliciano Lopez and Alex Corretja in doubles. In Sunday's singles, it's Philippoussis-Ferrero and Hewitt-Moya.

Australia has won the Davis Cup 27 times. Spain beat Australia in 2000 for its lone championship. The United States holds the record with 31 titles.

Hewitt was playing his first match in more than two months. He shut out Ferrero in the fourth-set tiebreaker, broke serve in the first game of the fifth set and dominated the rest of the way.

"I played an awesome tiebreak," Hewitt said. "When you go into a tiebreak down two sets to one, you want to get off to a good start. I just played faultless tennis and laid it all on the line."

Moya, a clay-court specialist, last played on grass courts at Wimbledon in 2000 when he lost to champion Goran Ivanisevic. He has pulled out of Wimbledon the last two years because of injuries.

When asked about playing on grass, he said, "I might start to like it now."

Moya, a former French Open champion and No. 1 player, was not part of Spain's triumph in the 2000 Davis Cup final in Barcelona.

"Missing that one - that we played at home and we won - it was tough," Moya said. "But it also gave me even more motivation to be a great player and keep improving."

Tennis Australia officials apologized courtside after they were alerted about the anthem. They also sent a letter of apology to the president of the Spanish tennis federation, Augustin Pujol Niubo.

Pollard said the error occurred because a compact disc of world anthems contained an incorrect one for Spain.


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