Spain, Stepanek-led Czech Republic Advance to 2009 Davis Cup Final
Defending Davis Cup champion Spain and the Czech Republic both won the doubles on Saturday, clinching their respective ties and advancing to the Davis Cup final.
According to the Davis Cup website, “The Zatika Arena was reminiscent of a heavy metal rock concert,” when the Czechs advanced to their first final in 29 years. “The cheering, chanting, and jumping up and down courtside would have been more at home at a Pearl Jam performance. An entire section of men with all body shapes removed their shirts and started to swing them in the air while singing. They were celebrating. Their nation, Czech Republic, had just defeated Croatia to qualify for the final of the 2009 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas.”
Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek clinched the tie with the doubles point, defeating Marin Cilic and Lovro Zovko 6-1, 6-3, 6-4, after both winning five-set matches the previous day. The Czechs won their lone Davis Cup title in 1980 behind Ivan Lendl, defeating Italy.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Stepanek, who survived a world record 78 aces by Ivo Karlovic to win his singles 16-14 in the fifth set on Friday. “We didn’t think we would cruise to a 3-0 lead against the powerful Croats.”
Spain, without injured Top 10 players Rafael Nadal or Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco, topped Israel 3-0. In the Saturday doubles, Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez and Tommy Robredo beat Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-2.
“It was a question of taking our opportunities,” said Robredo after the match. “The first two sets were very close, but then we played our best in the third and fourth sets.”
Spain will now host the Czechs on red clay in December, and will be the overwhelming favorites, with Nadal and Verdasco likely back in the line-up.
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