Spain take on the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final, hoping for their fourth title in five years and the sixth since 2000. They will have to do it without Rafael Nadal, who earned key victories in the 2009 and 2011 wins, due to his ongoing injury but still have a formidable team including World No.5 David Ferrer. However, the all important home advantage is with the Czechs – who have chosen a fast indoor hard court at the O2 Arena in Prague. The choice of surface looks to make this a very hard tie to call, with two top ten players in Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer that should be expected to win their matches against perceived weaker opponents in Nicolas Almagro and Radek Stepanek. Bookmakers are finding it difficult to split the pair, but have Czech Republic as marginal favourites.
After Ferrer takes on Stepanek to begin the tie, Berdych has ensured there will be a fiery end to proceedings on Day 1 when he takes on Nicolas Almagro. He told media earlier this week the following:
“I played faced Almagro many times this year and won most of them, If he’s nominated, he will be the weak point on which we can build our victory. He’s missing that little something that distinguishes great players [from the rest]. He’s won smaller tournaments won this year. But he always has a chance if he plays.”
To ensure his team is still in with a shout coming into the doubles, Berdych must extend his head to head over the No.3 Spaniard to 9-3, including four times this year and once indoors. This isn’t the first time there has been controversy between the two – in their Australian Open meeting this year Berdych had refused to shake Almagro’s hand, after accusing the Spaniard of deliberately hitting the ball at him on an approach to the net.
While Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar are slated to play the third tie in the doubles, there is the very distinct possibility that it will be Stepanek and Berdych instead. The pair were the doubles team in all three of the wins on the way to the final and have a greater experience on the big stage. While Spanish pairing Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers were the eventual champions at the World Tour Finals, Stepanek was part of the one team that beat them in the tournament. He and Leander Paes were victorious in the opening rubber of the round robin stage.
With the teams so evenly matched, it seems very unlikely that the tie will be over before Sunday. Two cracking ties await to decide who will be the winner of the 101st edition of the Davis Cup. Rubber #4 sees Berdych take on Ferrer – while Ferrer leads the head to head only two of those matches have been in the last five seasons. Indoor matches in 2010 and 2011 were split, with the Czech the more recent winner in 2011’s World Tour Finals. Both players have two indoor titles this year although it would have to be said that Ferrer’s Paris Masters and Barcelona titles trump the Stockholm and Montpellier trophies won by Berdych. The players were drawn in different groups of the World Tour Finals this year but suffered the same fate, failing to make the semi finals.
If needed, the decisive tie will be between Radek Stepanek and Nicolas Almagro. Perhaps surprisingly, Stepanek leads the head to head although the pair have only played three times. Almagro was the victor in their most recent encounter, winning in four at the US Open on his way to the fourth round. Stepanek will be hoping for a much better time than in the last finals he and his countrymen found themselves. Stepanek held a 2-0 (6-2 6-1) lead in the second rubber before losing in five sets to David Ferrer and was also part of the losing team that were defeated in straight sets in doubles as the Czech’s lost 5-0.
Spain: David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro, Marcel Granollers, Marc Lopez
Czech Republic: Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Lukas Rosol, Ivo Minar
Route To The Final:
- 5-0 vs Kazakhstan (Ferrero, Almagro, Granollers, Lopez)
- 4-1 vs Austria (Almagro, Ferrer, Granollers, Lopez)
- 3-1 vs USA (Almagro, Ferrer, Granollers, Lopez)
- 4-1 vs Italy (Stepanek, Berdych, Rosol)
- 4-1 vs Serbia (Stepanek, Berdych, Rosol)
- 3-2 vs Argentina (Stepanek, Berdych, Minar)
Scheduled Matches: (Head to Head in brackets)
- Radek Stepanek vs David Ferrer (3-6)
- Tomas Berdych vs Nicolas Almagro (8-3)
- Ivo Minar/Lukas Rosol vs Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez
- Tomas Berdych vs David Ferrer (3-5)
- Radek Stepanek vs Nicolas Almagro (2-1)