Stepanek the Hero in 3-2 Czech Davis Cup Win Over Spain
by Staff | November 18th, 2012, 11:41 pm

33-year-old Czech Radek “The Worm” Stepanek wriggled his way to a 6-4, 7-6(0), 3-6, 6-3 win over Nicolas Almagro in the deciding singles Sunday as the Czech Republic ousted powerhouse Spain 3-2 in the Davis Cup final.

“I’m living a dream,” said Stepanek, who couldn’t hold back the tears after winning. “We have been working very hard, very hard for this moment. It was the biggest pressure under which I’ve ever played. Everything was at stake.”

Stepanek employed his signature net-rushing and chipping and charging tactics on the indoor carpet in Prague.

“I was playing very aggressive today; I wanted be the one who is active, who is controlling the game,” Stepanek said. “It paid off, even though I lost the third set. I had no doubt I was on the way.”

Spain’s David Ferrer kept his team in the match earlier on Sunday, defeating Czech Tomas Berdych in straight sets to force a fifth and deciding match. Berdych and Stepanek won the doubles on Saturday over year-end Masters doubles winners Maecel Granollers and Marc Lopez.

“We’re sad at this moment,” Ferrer said. “I’m very proud of our team. We were fighting to win here in Prague.”

Spain in the end suffered from the loss of former No. 1 Rafael Nadal, sidelined with injury.

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44 Comments for Stepanek the Hero in 3-2 Czech Davis Cup Win Over Spain

RZ Says:

It’s a shame that Almagro couldn’t win a match and silence Berdych. Oh well.

Giles Says:

Good for Almagro that he kept Birdbrain on the court for 4 hours. It is always difficult playing away from home in front of a raucous crowd.

scineram Says:

Carpet? LOL It was as hard as concrete.

Dave Says:

I believe it’s indoor hardcourt (Novacrylic Ultracushion). That’s not indoor carpet.

It’s questionable to say that Spain in the end suffered from the loss of Nadal. There is no guarantee Nadal-who-hates-indoor-hardcourt would have been beaten Berdych and/or Stepanek on fast indoor hardcourt in Czech Rep. Ferrer is probably more effective on indoor hardcourts than Nadal.

Furthermore, since 2006, Nadal played in only 8 ties out of Spain’s 22 Davis Cup ties — he missed all four ties outside Europe, and played only two minor ties outside Spain’s clay courts (Belgium, Germany). On the other hand, Ferrer carried the team on 17 of those 22 ties. So Spain ultimately played with its core Davis Cup team.

Nadal may be “sidelined with injury” the past five months… but how injured is he, really, that he could not train and play this event? He was running fine at Wimbledon, Halle and French Open. If he was so injured and in pain, it’s unlikely he would have played doubles at Halle(see link). Nadal claimed to have been injured since February, yet put additional overuse on his body by playing doubles at Indian Wells (won) and Miami. During the US Open, Nadal played a golf competition (he plays right handed, so his swings put stress on his ‘injured’ left knee). Given the contradictions in his behavior and the excessive time his ‘recovery’ is taking, it’s likely he’s sideline by an extended vacation and break from tennis.

Kimberly Says:

When’s the last time Berdych or stepanek beat nadal Dave? I would have liked his chances. But he didn’t play and all speculation is pointless. And btw, last time I checked, federer and wawrinka were unable to pull off the two man show the stepanek and Berdych are in Davis cup.

jamie Says:

The Czechs winning the Davis Cup with a 2 men team shows Federer and Wawrinka would have been very capable of winning Davis Cup if Federer only cared. But Federer has never cared for the Davis Cup.

rogerafa Says:

@ jamie

The Czechs winning the Davis Cup with a 2 men team shows that the stars were aligned for him although we did not hear it first from you. The Swiss will win it when the stars get aligned for them. Roger’s chart does not show any Davis Cup or Olympic singles gold medal. You heard it here first. :-;

rogerafa Says:

@ Kimberly

It was a commendable effort from Radek and Tomas to go all the way basically on their own but Radek is an excellent doubles player and brilliant at the net. Tomas is a huge server with powerful groundstrokes and their respective strengths gel together very well. It was Tomas who did most of the heavy lifting in singles this year but the absence of top players from Davis cup helped him a lot. Spain were very lucky to play weak teams at home on clay. The Czechs at least had the tough away tie in Argentina. They could have lost to Serbia had Novak played. Rafa would likely have beaten Radek and probably Tomas too in the final. A combination of great effort and luck was responsible for the Czech victory. I can not see Tomas and Radek winning the Davis cup on their own ever again unless they get even more lucky. I thought the USA did very well winning two of three very tough away clay ties. They just did not have any luck. Stan is simply not reliable enough in singles and his doubles play can be worse. It will take a similar combination of effort and luck for Roger and Stan to win Davis Cup. They are unlikely to win against teams with a great doubles pair or in clay ties especially against Spain or Argentina. A lot of the other teams like Spain, France, Argentina, Serbia and even the USA have most of their bases covered. Roger will be committed fully only when he is convinced that they have a real chance of winning the cup and a kind draw is a prerequisite. Otherwise, there is no point making a big effort to come away with nothing when he has so much at stake in his singles career. There is a reason why the top players did not play Davis Cup this year and why, normally, they are not committed fully. The motivation level of the lower rung players for Davis Cup is very high because they have not won or unlikely to win anything big in their singles career. They make a virtue of playing Davis Cup but the ‘patriotism’ generally disappears when and if the stakes get higher in their singles career.

Dave Says:

Kimberley: Nadal on a fast indoor hardcourt in the Czech Rep? I doubt if Nadal would have fared much better than Almagro, but you entitled to your opinion. Fact is Nadal has played only two hardcourt ties since 2006 – it’s obvious that he avoided hardcourt ties unless it was against weak teams like belgium and Germany. This is the second Davis Cup final he has missed since 2008, and he missed playing Davis Cup the entire year in 2007, 2010 and 2012. Berdych and Stepanek’s Davis Cup records are much more impressive, and I suspect they are more patriotically motivated to play Davis Cup than Nadal really is: since 2006 Nadal has played only 8 ties for Spain compared to 14 ties for Stepanek and 18 ties for Berdych.

Stepanek is a more versatile and effective singles and doubles player than the inconsistent Wawrinka. It is obvious when you check their Davis Cup results: in 14 ties since 2006, 34-year old Stepanek is 11-7 in singles and 12-2 in doubles. In 17 ties since 2006, Wawrinka is 15-11 in singles and 2-9 in doubles – his only 2 doubles wins came from partnering Federer. With Wawrinka playing, Federer had had to play the maximum three consecutive matches per tie in 50% of his ties as well as lost 25% of the ties. If Federer had Stepanek on his team — despite Radek being a jerk – Federer would have a better chance of winning the Davis Cup than with Wawrinka.


Giles: Knee injuries are the second most common injury in golf. As a right-handed golfer, Nadal’s golf swings would put the most stress on his left knee (which is supposed to be the supposedly ‘injured’ knee). I play enough golf to know that a person with a severely injured knee should not be playing competitive golf. If my knee is not really that injured, I am sure that I too can get my doctor to give me ‘permission’ to allow me to practice and play golf as well – even though I do not pay my doctor as much as Nadal pays his doctors.


jamie: it’s monumentally ignorant to claim that “Federer and Wawrinka would have been very capable of winning Davis Cup if Federer only cared. But Federer has never cared for the Davis Cup.”

You obviously do not know your facts. Do you need enlightenment? By their ages, Federer has played far more Davis Cup matches than Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. As well, Federer has played more Davis Cup matches than the vast majority of great players (only Edberg, McEnroe, Becker and Wilander have played more — Federer will probably eclipse most of them by the time he retires). Since 2006, Federer has played as many ties and more matches than Nadal. Since 2011, Federer has played more ties and matches than Djokovic, Nadal, Murray. In Swiss history, only 2 Swiss players have played more Davis Cup than Federer.

If Federer did not care for Davis Cup he would not have played so much.

funches Says:

I’m not a Nadal guy, but there’s no chance Stepanek would have beaten him in a Davis Cup final on any surface, anywhere. No chance.

Giles Says:

@dave. If you insist on pressing your point about Nadal playing golf why don’t you have a quiet word with his doctors and tell them that they are giving Rafa the wrong advice!!!

Giles Says:

@dave. Why are you so interested in Rafa’s participation in Davis Cup ties. That is his decision as to where and which ties he plays. It is not for discussion. I suggest you worry about Fed’s participation or non-participation in Davis Cup. He, after all, is your main concern!!!

rogerafa Says:

@ Giles

What Dave meant was that the injury was probably not serious enough for Rafa’s doctors to advise him against playing golf. I don’t think he meant Rafa was getting wrong advice.

Giles Says: @rogerafa. I don’t believe Rafa’s doctors, at any point, said the injury was serious. If you read the article I have posted, quote by doctors, “…..Nadal’s injury “is annoying and painful, but not significant”. @Dave this post is for you as well.

Giles Says:

@rogerafa. Thanks for your post. If anything it spurred me on to locating the article posted above.

Robin Says:

I’ve been reading everyone’s comments on Raffa, Federer, Stepanek etc. Everyone seems to know a lot about the game and all came up with great points. I have played tennis, achieved a high ranking in Australia and love the game. So when making my comments this is from my past experiences.
When a team wins a competition it’s proven that its the best team. Things might happen to help that win, like injuries, draw,
weather, location, and of course LUCK.
There has been so many matches won in tennis with a player just getting through the tense tie breaker.
How many Wimbledon champions won because they guts out that dreaded tie breaker!!
So when a te wins the Davis Cup they have proven over that year their team got through all of the above.
They may never win another one, then again they might.
When you win the Davis cup your team has just proven that in that Callander year they were able to get through all the things I mentioned.
Regardless who was injured and where they played and what court they were put on, the team that wins got through it and they should and we should acknowledge it and not state why they were so lucky.
GOOD on them. The Czech team who didn’t have the strongest team won as they got through all the above and also had some luck. Even though they are not my team I have to admire what they have just done not only for themselves their country as you can imagine how many kids will pick racquets now because of their win!!!!!
As for the mighty Federer. I am so sick of hearing and reading that the man didn’t care about Davis Cup.
He loves his country and has played Davis cup many times but has not been able to win the big one. That’s not from lack of trying or caring.
He has tried many times and failed. I know he hasn’t played all the ties like a Hewitt but lets remember there are a lot of things he has to consider before playing events.
His love for Davis cup and country is there without a doubt.
I knew his coach and he has confirmed that.
So all the people out there who think he didn’t care about Davis Cup rest assured he did but just wasn’t able to pull it off.
Now as for Raffa. I love tennis if you play the game you will know what I’m writing now is true.
People keep stating his injury isn’t that serious that he is just having a longer holiday. What rubbish if you love the game and the thrill if victory, remember I’m talking to people who play the game, you must realise t would be killing him watching that Davis Cup final and seeing not only his team and mates go down but his COUNTRY go down.
His knee must be causing him trouble, full stop end of discussion. When a person comes back from injury it is very hard more mentally than physically. No player would put themselves through that and have their ranking drop before their eyes if the injury they have isn’t serious!!!
Lets just all hope got tennis Raffa can come back as the game is not the same since he has left !!!!!!!!!!!!!

skeezer Says:

What is very curious to me is IF Rafa’s knees weren’t so bad(serious) why oh why is he out of Tennis for so long???

mat4 Says:


And why precisely 6 months?

malher Says:

about nadal so long out of tennis – snake in the grass

Paul Mathews Says:

All in all, it’s quite evident that Nadal is faking his injury & is afraid of playing anywhere else than his favorite clay courts, which is why he skipped almost everything since his hard fought French Open – And the fact that he played only 8 ties out of 22 & mostly the clay court ties against major opponents is enough to state that Spain would have had a better chance in this tie even if had Nadal been playing for them.
And all those who says Federer doesn’t care for his country to win Davis Cup, I must say they are shameful ignorants & either knows nothing about tennis or are just Nadal fanatics. Had Federer got even half of what Spain has as part of his Davis Cup team, he would have won more trophies than what Spain has achieved with Nadal playing their home ties on clay! :) People must realize, by the sheer numbers of ties & matches played, Ferrer & not Nadal is their best bet. Ferrer had his best year in Davis Cup this season & still they couldn’t win just shows how good the Czechs were as a team! It’s annoying & an insult to this silent Ferrer, no matter whether he has won a Grand Slam or not. Nadal’s antics are mostly restricted in clay courts to be honest, and some people ignorantly makes him a super man in tennis, though his records & behavior never shows anything like that. He is ages away from the real wizard of tennis, the might Federer!~ :)

Giles Says: Great news Rafa fans! Our champ is back on the practice courts!!! #VamosRafa

Brando Says:


Thanks for that- awesome to see rafa on a tennis court !:-)

Here’s a nice article in which IVAN LENDL himself says that he is looking forward to rafa’s return and is a player he enjoys watching alot.

Guess Lendl can join Laver, Sampras, Borg, Graff, Agassi, Becker, Mcenroe etc as former pros who are in the rafa fan club.

Heck his own emplyer, MUZZA, calls rafa his favorite player.

Not short of admirer’s is that rafael nadal. Here’s the article:–articolo7061.html

Brando Says:


RF is NOT INVITED to the Abu Dhabi exho event:

Pretty STRANGE decision IMO for a exho!


alison Says:

Brando thanks nice link,just goes to show how much he is missed on tour,both by ex pros and fellow players,Nole,Fed,Muzza,Delpo all said it,and now the great Ivan Lendel is joining in on the chorus of approval,and what a great way of sticking two fingers up to all the trolls on this forum,they might not care for Rafa but theres plenty out there that still do.

Brando Says:

‘what a great way of sticking two fingers up to all the trolls on this forum,they might not care for Rafa but theres plenty out there that still do.’


alison Says:

Thanks Brando,but then again they could all be lying,i suppose that will be the next thing(rolls eyes)lol.

Giles Says:

@Brando. Why let it rest at “sticking two fingers up to all the trolls on this forum”? How about a fist pump Rafa style as well!! #WelcomeBackRafa

Dave Says:

funches: “there’s no chance Stepanek would have beaten him in a Davis Cup final on any surface, anywhere. No chance.”
First, that’s what people said about Czech No. 3 Lukas Rosol against Nadal at Wimbledon on a surface that Rafa had reached several finals and won a championship. Second, in the past ten years, only two teams have won the Davis Cup in the opponent’s venue (Spain over Argentina in 2009, Croatia over Slovakia in 2005). Psychologists have long suggested that patriotic home crowd support can boost athletes to success by, see link (e.g., Olympics).


Brando: The Abu Dhabi exo is organized by IMG. Since Federer and IMG parted ways, this is not surprising as is Federer dropping the IMG-owned Miami from his schedule. In any case, Federer does not need the Abu Dhabi exo any more. Roger should be making about $12 million from his South American exos in December, so he is smart in doing all his exos in December and then focusing on training and playing in 2013. He does not need the appearance fees from events such as Doha or Basel.


Giles: I have a better idea — why don’t you use some initiative to tell his doctors that they are giving Rafa the wrong advice (unless they were paid to give him that advice). Second, the primary reason I brought up Rafa’s participation in Davis Cup ties was because of the notion that ultimately Spain suffered from Nadal’s absence (as usual) — even if Nadal played, it would not have guaranteed a Spanish win. And let’s not forget that Spain without Nadal won the 2008 DC final in Argentina.

Giles, you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble to find that article. In August on this site, I had already quoted major Spanish newspapers such as El Pais on the issues and contradictions regarding Nadal’s knee injury — and my information was more comprehensive than your article from Matt Cronin (a tennis writer who gets criticized on for his biases and sometimes inaccurate/cherry-picked information). Like I said in my first post, if his injury was not that significant then why — after four to five months — has Nadal not returned for the Davis Cup final? Overuse injuries under the advanced expert care that Nadal can afford to pay for should not take that long to heal. The probable answer is that team Nadal by July had already decided to shut down for the year — yet still kept milking the publicity by teasing gullible fans and players about possibly returning for the Davis Cup final or World Tour Finals or whatever. Like I said in July/August — it made no economic or ranking sense for Nadal to return this year.


It’s silly and naive for some people to keep imagining that Nadal’s injury is serious when even his own doctors have said it is not significant (or “not serious” or “not important” as the major Spanish papers have stated). Like I said, Nadal claimed he “first started feeling pain around February before Indian Wells” — his injuries are basically overuse injuries mixed with some acute trauma, yet what did he do: he immediately increased the overuse on his body by playing doubles on the hardcourts of Indian Wells (won title) and Miami. If your knee has been injured since February, common sense should tell you to cut down unecessary tennis matches on hardcourts (such as doubles), not increase the amount of tennis you play on hardcourts in March! But what does he cut out — the Miami semifinal against Murray that he might have lost.

Even people who play the game well can be naive about the motivations of top professional players — it’s a completely different life and career from much lesser players. What a person actually does (his behaviours) usually reveals his attitude more than what he says or what we presume his attitude is. If it really killed Nadal to watch that Davis Cup final and see his team, his teammates and country go down then he would not have skipped/missed 64% of Spain’s 22 Davis Cup ties since 2006. Nadal’s DC absences include 2006 (missed DC first round 1-4 loss in Belarus), 2007 (missed entire year, including DC quarterfinal 1-4 loss in USA), 2008 (missed Davis Cup final in Argentina, Peru away tie), 2009 (missed DC semifinal), 2010 (missed entire year — his best year on ATP Tour, incluidng DC quarterfinal 0-5 loss in France), 2012 (missed entire year, including DC final in Czech Rep). After 7 years of skipping 14 Davis Cup ties, it’s likely Nadal has learned to watch his teammates win or lose without killing himself. Same with Djokovic, as him team got smashed by the Czechs earlier this year because Novak has not played full Davis Cup since 2010.

In their Davis Cup careers since 1999, Lleyton Hewitt has played 66 Davis Cup matches in 84% of Australia’s ties versus Federer’s 58 matches in 73% of Switzerland’s ties. As young players both naturally played a lot of Davis Cup. In the six years from 1999 to 2004, Federer’s 100% attendance at Davis Cup ties was even better than Hewitt’s (who just missed one tie). As older players, both players naturally played less Davis Cup. Since 2005, Hewitt has attended 75% of Australia’s ties (15 of 20) and Federer 53% (9 of 17) for a simple reason: as an aging top player, Federer (650 matches and 54 titles since 2005) continued to play significantly more matches on the ATP tour than the declining Hewitt (only 314 matches and 5 titles since 2005) — Federer had to take hard choices about his playing priorities while for Hewitt playing Davis Cup continued to be a source of mental and material reward that he couldn’t get anymore on the ATP tour (all these players playing a lot of Davis Cup are paid on contract). Federer’s 650 matches since 2005 is a lot of matches — Nadal has played 705 matches in his career since 2002. So older players like Hewitt can afford to build in Davis Cup as a primary part of their tennis schedule while Federer cannot.


Having said all that, I’ll say again what I said in the past: any player who has played over 700 matches is entitled to take a break from tennis whenever he wants. In any case, Nadal would not be the first top player to take a ‘holiday’ break from tennis during their productive years — players, e.g., Borg, Lendl, etc did it.

Unfortunately there is no official mechanism to allow long-service players to leave the tour for months, so claiming injury is the convenient but necessary excuse. I just wish Nadal and his publicists would stop milking the publicity from his oversensationalized, exaggerated injuries.

nadalista Says:

^^^^^^plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.


skeezer Says:

Great read keep it up. And thanks for posting in English.^

Huh Says:

hmmm, so here we go again! a self-proclaimed golfer cum tennis analyst claims to know more about the injury of other golfers as well as part-time golfers(like rafa who play it just for fun to hav a break) and at the same time dismisses the post of a real tennis former professional who was offering some real insight on rafa’s injury! that has to be the joke of the last 2 weeks here at least, if not more!

nadalista Says:



Je vous en prie…………….

nadalista Says:

……pas mon probleme si vous etes analphabete….

Sidney Says:

It is good to see Rafa play tennis again.

It is sad to see all the Rafa haters out in full force again. :(


Giles Says:

^^ Yes. They certainly are a bunch of saddos! #KingIsBack

Polo Says:

I would like to see Rafa play first against any of the top 3 players + del Potro before I make any comment. One thing is sure, he will be good. How good will he be is what I cannot predict without bias.

Giles Says:

^^^ Err nobody knows!!! #NoBrainer

Polo Says:

While watching the decisive DC match between Stepanek and Almagro, the camera suddenly shifted to the Spanish team coach. It was Corretja! I had a premonition right then that Spain would lose this tie. I’ve always had this feeling that Corretja is jinxed. He lost to Sampras while he was ahead and Sampras was puking all over the court. He lost the French Open title twice. I was sure Murray will not win a major while Corretja was part of his team. Murray let him go and voila, he became US Open Champion.

Giles Says:

^^^ How can you say Corretja is jinxed? Didn’t he captain the Davis Cup team last year? Trick question – who won the Davis Cup in 2011??? #ScratchYourHead

Polo Says:

Davis Cup captain for 2011 was Albert Costa. Spain won.

Giles Says:

^ Apologies. You are correct.

moam Says:

Congrats to Czech Republic and MVP Radek Stepanek. He may be the best pure serve-volley player on tour.

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