GOTHENBURG, Sweden, Sep 23 (Reuters) - Andy Roddick beat Jonas Bjorkman in straight sets today to take the United States to the Davis Cup final.
Doubles specialist Bjorkman, a last minute replacement for Thomas Johansson, who was ill, put in a brave performance but never threatened the world number five who fired 16 aces to win 6-2 7-6 6-4.
The win provided an unassailable lead for the Americans, who went on to make it 4-1 when James Blake defeated Simon Aspelin 6-1 6-3 in the fifth rubber.
The US will host the final against Russia after the defending champions beat Germany in the other semi-final 3-2.
''It's for moments like these you put in your time on the practice courts,'' said Roddick, who has shown remarkable form and has not been broken once in his two singles matches this weekend.
''If you'd told me ahead of the match that I'd beat Jonas in three sets I think I might have questioned your sanity.'' Clearly more at ease on the fast indoor carpet surface of the Scandinavium arena, Roddick broke Bjorkman twice in the first set to clinch it 6-2.
The Swede raised his game in the next set, winning points with his volleying and matching the American all the way to the tiebreak.
His tennis let him down there, however and he allowed Roddick to break him twice for a 3-0 lead.
The American had no problems holding his own serve and broke the Swede once again to 7-3 to take the tiebreak and the second set.
One break of serve was enough for Roddick to take the third set.
''I thought he played great in the second set, I could easily have suffered a slip-up,'' said Roddick, who recorded his fifth win in seven meetings with Bjorkman.
LONG WAIT The United States have not won the Davis Cup since 1995 when they beat Russia in the final.
''I think we have the right team now (to win the Davis Cup).
But me thinking it and actually doing it are two different things.'' Sweden's loss of Thomas Johansson who had a stomach bug was not their first bout of bad luck. Last week their top-ranked player Robin Soderling pulled out with a wrist injury.
The indoor surface with its extremely low bounce had been picked specifically to suit Soderling's style of play.
''We played the world's best national team, and they proved that today, yesterday and on Friday,'' said Sweden captain Mats Wilander.
''We chose a surface that we thought would suit us, but I think Roddick especially and also the Bryan brothers adapted well to it.'' Bjorkman also praised Roddick's game.
''Sometimes it doesn't look like he moves well when he does, because he takes these big steps...People always talk about his serve, but he has a lot of variety in his game.'' Reuters AB RN2234