Host nation Czech Republic will take a 2-1 lead over five-time champion Spain into Sunday’s reverse singles of the Davis Cup final in Prague.
Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek teamed up to secure a dramatic 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Barclays ATP World Tour Finals doubles champions Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez on Saturday.
“It's incredible. It's just one point. We'll do everything for that,” said Berdych. “I'm ready to do it tomorrow. I'll try to come with my strong game, and with the crowd on my back, it would be a good combination to make it.”
Added Stepanek, “We know what we are capable to do in Davis Cup. And we also know that the doubles points matter and we played together so many times, so we have all the experience we can have.”
The Czech Republic is looking to avenge the 5-0 whitewash defeat it suffered against Spain in the 2009 Davis Cup final and win the coveted ITF men’s team title for the first time since 1980. World No. 6 Berdych will have the chance to claim victory for his nation when he faces No. 5-ranked David Ferrer in the first match on Sunday. Should Ferrer level the tie for Spain, it will be decided in a fifth and final rubber featuring Radek Stepanek against Nicolas Almagro.
Flying high from their victory at The O2 last weekend, Granollers and Lopez made a strong start to the match, capitalising on two Stepanek double faults to earn a 3-0 lead. The Spaniards went onto close out the opener with a love service hold from Granollers.
Breaks were exchanged early in the second set before the Czechs dug deep to claim a crucial break of serve in the 12th game. Lopez rallied from a 0/40 deficit on serve, but a netted backhand volley from Granollers gave the Czechs a fourth set point and they converted as Stepanek hit a forehand volley winner to level the match.
In a like scenario at the close of the third set, Lopez again found his serve coming under pressure. A telling Berdych return to the baseline of the Spaniard engineered two set points for the host nation at 15/40 and they capitalised on the second with a backhand volley winner from Berdych.
With the momentum and the support of a raucous home crowd, the Czech team broke Granollers to love in the sixth game of the fourth set. The Spaniards fended off two match points as Berdych served at 5-3, 40/15, but the Czechs converted their third opportunity as Berdych smashed away a high return after three hours and 19 minutes.
The 27-year-old Berdych improved to an impressive 16-1 record in Davis Cup doubles rubbers. He and Stepanek are unbeaten in the seven ties they have played together since the 2009 final, when they fell to Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco.
In Friday’s singles rubbers, Ferrer had given Spain a 1-0 lead courtesy of a straight-sets win over Stepanek, before Berdych pulled the Czechs level with a five-set win over Nicolas Almagro that finished at close to midnight local time.