Czech Republic chases rare double

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 13, 2012
With no Rafael Nadal standing in its way, the Czech Republic hopes to complete a rare double this weekend when it takes on defending champion Spain in the 100th Davis Cup final. Two weeks after the Czech women secured the Fed Cup title at Prague's O2 Arena, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek will try to equal the feat with the men's team starting Friday at the same venue. No country has won both competitions in the same year since the United States in 1990. ''Our fans are in the winning mood, and we hope that we can leave this arena in the same way (as the Fed Cup team),'' Stepanek said. Even without the injured Nadal, though, Spain is no easy opponent. The Spaniards have dominated the Davis Cup recently and are looking for their fourth title in five years. One of those victories was a 5-0 sweep against the Czechs at home in 2009. This year, the team will be led by fifth-ranked David Ferrer, who is wrapping up the best season of his career that has included a tour-best seven tournament titles. Ferrer won two matches at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London last week, but still failed to qualify for the semifinals. But he's looking forward to another chance to add one more title before the offseason. ''I'm very confident with my game,'' said Ferrer, who beat Stepanek in five sets in the 2009 final. That, he said, ''was one of the best moments of my career.'' The sixth-ranked Berdych also qualified for the ATP finals, where he lost two matches and won one. He and Stepanek led the Czechs to victories against Italy, Serbia and Argentina on the way to the final, and now hope to give their country its first Davis Cup title as an independent nation, having split from Czechoslovakia in 1993. Czechoslovakia won its only title in 1980, when Ivan Lendl led the team to victory. The last time the Czechs beat Spain was as Czechoslovakia in 1971. But the players said they learned a lesson in 2009 -- and now have the home-court advantage. ''The final in Barcelona (in 2009) was a great experience for us that we can learn from,'' Stepanek said. ''Our two biggest advantages are that we have a choice of the surface and we have our fans behind us. And certainly, they miss Nadal.'' Nadal has been sidelined with a left knee injury since a second-round loss to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June. Rosol is also on the Czech team but unlikely to play if Berdych and Stepanek are fit. A capacity crowd of more than 13,000 noisy fans is expected, after tickets sold out in a matter of hours. The surface might even be of bigger importance. The Czechs beat Serbia 4-1 in the same arena in the quarterfinals, but that was on clay. Now, they opted for a faster hard court to counter the Spanish clay court specialists, who haven't lost on that surface in 12 years. Ferrer said the Spaniards have never played on such a fast court. ''We all have problems,'' he said. ''But we're ready to play, we're ready to fight.'' Spanish captain Alex Corretja is expected to use Nicolas Almagro as his second singles player, but could also opt for Feliciano Lopez, who is 4-3 against Berdych and beat him twice on hard court. Almagro lost four of his five matches to Berdych this year. Corretja said Tuesday that ''Feliciano is here in case we need to make any chances.'' As always, Saturday's doubles match could play a key role, and Spain received a confidence boost when Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez won the ATP finals on Monday by beating Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna of India for their third title of the season. ''For us, it was a very special to win,'' Granollers said. ''We come here with a lot of confidence after winning in London. We're ready to fight for everything.'' Berdych and Stepanek are expected to team up for the doubles as well, having an 11-1 record in Davis Cup play. Their only loss came in the 2009 final. And Berdych said he wasn't intimidated by Granollers and Lopez after their display in London. ''We can only congratulate them,'' Berdych said. ''It's a great result for them. But they'll face a different opponent here. I hope they will be taken by surprise on Saturday.''
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rodgers dealing with sickness ahead of NFC Championship Game

Russell Westbrook responds to All-Star snub

Report: Knicks, Melo to part ways by next season

Report: Pau Gasol out up to six weeks after hand surgery

Adam Jones to serve as penalty box attendant for minor league hockey team

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Paxton Lynch to be given chance to win Broncos’ job

Patriots have a magician perform tricks for players every Friday?

Indiana's OG Anunoby needs knee surgery, out for remainder of season

Tom Brady refuses to discuss Donald Trump: ‘Let’s talk about football stuff’

Report: 49ers could target Kirk Cousins in trade that includes No. 2 overall pick

Mike McCarthy: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams may be game-time decisions

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The NFC Championship’s two most important players

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker