Czechs stun Spain in Davis Cup dou­bles

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

PRAGUE

Hosts Czech Repub­lic came within a point of win­ning the Davis Cup fi­nal af­ter beat­ing hold­ers Spain in the dou­bles rub­ber here on Satur­day to take a 2-1 over­all lead. To­mas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beat Mar­cel Gra­nollers and Marc Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 in three hours and 19 min­utes.

Lopez and Gra­nollers, ranked sixth and 10th in dou­bles, came to Prague with a boost from their ATP Tour Fi­nals win last week.

They only lost one game at the Lon­don tour­na­ment -against Stepanek and In­dia's Le­an­der Paes. On Satur­day, Stepanek, the world num­ber four in dou­bles, lost his open­ing serve, which was enough for the Spa­niards to take the first set.

In the sec­ond set, Lopez was the first to lose his serve but Berdych of­fered Spain a quick re-break. But Lopez was in for more trou­ble as he strug­gled to come back from three set points down and fi­nally con­ceded the fourth one to let the Czechs come level.

In the third set, games went with serve un­til Lopez of­fered two set points again and the Czechs con­verted the sec­ond one.

All but flaw­less throughout the rub­ber, Gra­nollers lost his serve in the sixth game of the fourth set and that was all the Czechs needed to clinch their 12th Davis Cup dou­bles win to­gether, against a sin­gle loss.

In Fri­day's sin­gles, Spain's num­ber one David Fer­rer beat Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Berdych then put the Czechs level af­ter beat­ing Ni­co­las Al­ma­gro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 ( 5/ 7), 6-3. On Sun­day, Berdych, the world num­ber six, will take on fifth-ranked Fer­rer in a rub­ber pit­ting the teams' num­ber one play­ers against each other. Stepanek, the world num­ber 37 in sin­gles, is due to face 11th-ranked Al­ma­gro af­ter that.

Spain, miss­ing world num­ber four Rafael Nadal, who is re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury, are look­ing to lift their fourth Davis Cup in five years, in ad­di­tion wins in 2000 and 2004.

The Czech Repub­lic, which emerged as an in­de­pen­dent coun­try af­ter Cze­choslo­vakia split in 1993, has yet to win its first, but Cze­choslo­vakia lifted the Davis Cup in 1980. A vic­tory would give the Czechs a rare team dou­ble af­ter the women's team de­fended the Fed Cup here two weeks ago.

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