The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Spain have erred in preparations’
- Woodbridge believes Aussies are better placed

Melbourne: Spain have blundered by not coming to Australia earlier to practise on grass ahead of their Davis Cup final later this month, doubles specialist Todd Woodbridge said here on Wednesday.

The Spaniards have been preparing at home and in Houston, Texas and they are not expected to get a first-hand feel of the Melbourne courts until Thursday, a week out from the November 28-30 tie at Melbourne Park.

Woodbridge practised on Kooyong’s grass courts with doubles partner Wayne Arthurs shortly after arriving here on Wednesday.

Lleyton Hewitt has been working out on grass for almost three weeks and Mark Philippoussis went straight from the airport to the courts after arriving on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t have gone back to Spain (after the Masters Cup in the US) to practise on grass before coming to Australia, I would have been down here,” Woodbridge said. “If the match courts play like this, they’re pretty hard and fast already and they’re not going to be hard and fast in Barcelona, where the court is. I think that plays to our advantage, that they’re not here early,” he said.

Woodbridge said there were few differences for Australia between this final and the last one against France in 2001 which Australia lost amid controversies over team selections.

“Coming into this one, I just think that our team has got good preparation this time around,” he said. “Lleyton’s very fresh, Mark could have had a few more matches but he played very well in Europe and Wayne and I individually have played a lot of matches and played good tennis this year. Our team’s in shape, it just has to fall our way.”

Woodbridge said Australia’s chances were “the same” as in 2001 but they would be approaching the tie in a different manner, more in line with the plan which gave Australia victory over Switzerland in the recent semi-final. “I think this time around, if everyone stays fit and healthy, we have the same approach as what we had in the semi-final, we have a bit of a game plan ... We’ll go the same way.”

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