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Woodbridge welcomes new Woody Bjorkman

Todd Woodbridge went close to making Swede Jonas Bjorkman an honorary Australian on Saturday.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 06, 2003 01:16 AM IST

Todd Woodbridge went close to making Swede Jonas Bjorkman an honorary Australian on Saturday after the two men combined to give the Australian a modern day record eighth men's doubles crown at Wimbledon.

But the win may force him into a challenge match with John McEnroe, whom he has now trials by just one doubles titles.

Woodbridge landed six titles on the grass here with the retired Mark Woodforde - and lauded his new partner as "Woody" mark three after they retained the title they landed 12 months ago.

The fourth-seeded pair saw off top seeds Mahesh Bhupathi of India and Max Mirnyi of Belarus 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in 2hr 39min before a three quarters full centre court crowd.

"I'm astonished I could even get close to that," said Woodbridge of taking the record.

"It's beyond belief to think I could do anything like that. I can't believe I have achieved that. It's beyond anything I thought possible.

"I was lucky I had a choice of partners when Mark quit. I was number one in the world. I felt Jonas was the guy."

Bjorkman said he was delighted to be a part of the Woodbridge story.

"I'm thrilled. It's nice to be part of the Woodies group a little bit!"

Woodbridge will also play the mixed doubles on Sunday with Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova - they have yet to play their semi-final and face having to play twice in one afternoon if they are to take the title.

Woodbridge, a 32-year-old from Sydney, has now won 76 doubles titles in his career - making him the third most-decorated men's doubles player in history after Dutchman Tom Okker, who holds the mark of 78, and US legend McEnroe, who won 77.

Woodbridge and Mirnyi additionally won the 2001 Australian Open playing alongside each other.

Now McEnroe is eying a playoff match if Woodbridge levels his 77 titles.

"John was in the locker room last night. He wished me luck. We're getting close to that right know. Knowing Mac he's pretty serious about it!"

The Aussie's haul here is a joint record - but an overall record for the Open Era dating back to the dawn of professionalism in 1968.

Victorian era partners Hugh and Reggie Doherty also landed eight crowns between 1897 and 1905.

When Woodbridge, who Saturday was playing in his 18th Grand Slam doubles final, ended his association with Woodforde three seasons ago on the latter's retirement they had become the most successful ever pairing with 61 tournament wins - including 11 Grand Slams.

Woodforde is at Wimbledon - to keep his former playing partner on track.

"He needles us a lot with e-mails saying thing like, 'why did you lose to that pair?' He knows I get quite annoyed - that's good motivation!"

Bhupathi and Mirnyi, playing in their second campaign together and who won the US Open together last year, went out to the champions here 12 months ago in the quarter-finals.

Bhupathi, a 29-year-old from Madras, also won the 1999 French Open and Wimbledon doubles, as well as the 2001 French title, playing alongside Leander Paes, his compatriot before the two men fell out.

Mirnyi was a 2000 US Open doubles winner alongside Lleyton Hewitt.

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