Czech Republic and Tomas Berdych took full advantage of the withdrawal of Juan Martin Del Potro to qualify for the Davis Cup final today where they will meet Spain after defeating Argentina 3-1.
The wrist issues that have plagued Del Potro throughout the summer forced him to admit defeat, meaning Carlos Berlocq would play the decisive rubber – his first singles match in Davis Cup for his country. Despite the rowdy home support being well behind him, he could not pull off the impossible and was defeated in straight sets by Tomas Berdych, 6-3 6-3 6-4.
Berlocq did have opportunities but was incredibly wasteful, holding many more break points than Berdych but only managing to break once in the match. The first set was fairly equal with serve being dominant for the most part but Berlocq would collapse in the eighth game of the set when his serve went missing and Berdych dealt some powerful returns back. This would bring up two break points and Berdych would just need to stand and watch as his opponent netted a second serve to hand over the break. Berdych faced a 15-40 situation of his own when serving for the set but he would hold his nerve and the game with the help of some big serving.
The second set was much of the same with Berlocq poor on the important points, even when Berdych wasn’t serving well. Breaks in the third and ninth game of the set, the latter with the help of two big return winners gave him a 2-0 lead in the match with the Czech’s well on their way to the final.
An early break in the third would see Berdych take a 4-1 lead but he was pegged back by Berlocq who was fighting for every point for which the home crowd showed their appreciation. He even had two break chances at 4-4 to have the opportunity to serve for the set, but as with much of the match – he didn’t come up big on the important points and would be punished when Berdych took a 0-40 lead in the final game of the match. The second of three break points would be taken and the spot in the finals confirmed when the Czech hit a great cross court return winner for the victory.
Berdych had been instrumental in this 3-1 victory for the Czechs, he and Radek Stepanek teamed up in doubles for a comfortable 6-3 6-4 6-3 victory over Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank.
Just as important was his dramatic five set victory over Juan Monaco. After taking the first set 6-1, Berdych fell to pieces and it was just two games away from Monaco giving a 2-0 lead to Argentina. An astonishing collapse saw Monaco then lose eight games in a row as errors came from everywhere on the Argentinian’s racket. At 4-0 it would be expected that Berdych would see off the match comfortably but it was anything but as Monaco retrieved both breaks back – the latter to love as Berdych attempted to serve out the match. The revitalised Argentina crowd were however soon deflated when Monaco himself was broken to love in an anticlimactic end to a 4 hour thriller ending 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-4 6-4
Juan Martin Del Potro had earlier given Argentina hope with a comfortable win over Czech No.2 Radek Stepanek, 6-4 6-4 6-2. Aside from a blip in the second set which saw him down a break at 1-3, Del Potro was rarely troubled was broken just once in the whole match. It is likely that the wrist issues that forced his withdrawal were not helped by playing here and it may be a decision he could regret but let’s hope there is no long term damage.