Stepanek ticks the Czech box
It's a job for two when the Czechs win Davis Cup finals. Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek gave the Czech Republic the title for the first time as an independent nation by beating Spain 3-2 in the final on Sunday. Each spent about 10 grueling hours on court, playing the opening singles, teaming up for the doubles and then completing the reverse singles.
Ivan Lendl and Tomas Smid did the same when Czechoslovakia defeated Italy 4-1 in the 1980 final. "They've been our inspiration, our idols. They're the legends and now we're joining them,'' Stepanek said after clinching the title with a 6-4 7-6 (0) 3-6 6-3 victory over Nicolas Almagro in the last reverse singles.
Stepanek dropped to the court in disbelief before teammates Tomas Berdych, Lukas Rosol, Ivo Minar and captain Jaroslav Navratil jumped on him. "I'm living a dream,'' said Stepanek, who wept openly. "It was the biggest pressure under which I've ever played. Everything was at stake.''
The Czechs' quest for the Davis Cup began in the 2007 World Cup playoff against Switzerland in Prague, with Stepanek and Berdych teaming up in doubles against Roger Federer and Yves Allegro. The pair saved a match point before going on to win the match and ultimately the series, starting the journey to this title.
The victory was a sweet revenge for the Czechs after they were swept 5-0 by Spain in the 2009 final at Barcelona. Earlier, Ferrer kept alive Spain's hopes of winning a fourth title in five years by beating Berdych 6-2 6-3 7-5 in the first reverse singles match to tie the final at 2-2.
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