PRAGUE — Radek Stepanek was the hero as the Czech Republic won the 100th Davis Cup final against Spain in Prague.
Report by Reuters
It all came down to a deciding fifth rubber, with Stepanek seeing off world number 11 Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 7-6, (7-0), 3-6, 6-3 to give his nation a 3-2 win.
David Ferrer had earlier brought Spain level at 2-2 with a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Tomas Berdych.
While Czechoslovakia won the Davis Cup in 1980, this is the Czech Republic’s first victory as an independent nation.
“I was dreaming about it my whole life and now we’re standing here as Davis Cup champions, it’s amazing,” said Stepanek
“I can’t describe what I’m feeling right now. I came on the court with the mindset that I had to stay calm, hungry,
motivated and concentrate.
“I was playing very aggressively today. I wanted to be the one who was active, who was controlling the game and it paid off.”
Berdych had needed nearly four hours to beat Almagro in the second singles on Friday and then played in the doubles win on Saturday, so it was no surprise that he ran out of gas against Ferrer in Sunday’s first singles match.
Spain’s world number five has enjoyed the best year of his career and had too much for Berdych, winning in a little under two-and-a-half hours to bring the defending champions level.
A world ranking of 37 suggested the 33-year-old Stepanek was a considerable outsider against Almagro, six years younger and ranked 26 places higher.
But the backing of most of the 13 000 spectators inside Prague’s O2 Arena helped Stepanek, as did a fast surface that suited his attacking style.