Ranking: No. 6
Titles this year: Montpellier and Stockholm
A mainstay of the Top 10 since making his breakthrough by reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros and finishing runner-up at Wimbledon in 2010, the Czech No. 1 is on the brink of equalling the Davis Cup record for winning the most live rubbers in a year. He goes into this year’s final with a perfect 8-0 record in 2012 and if he wins all three rubbers for his country this weekend he could match Ivan Ljubicic’s 11-1 record from 2005. Berdych has been a picture of consistency this year, with his best result at the majors coming on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows, where he knocked out top seed Roger Federer in the quarterfinals before losing to Andy Murray in blustery conditions in the semis. A lot of responsibility rests on his broad shoulders and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the pressure on home soil.
Strengths: Serve, forehand, reach
Ranking: No. 37 (singles); No. 4 (doubles)
Titles this year: Three doubles titles alongside Leander Paes, including the Australian Open
Stepanek turns 34 later this month, which means this could be his last shot at winning the Davis Cup title, and to do so on his own patch would be a dream come true for the veteran of the competition. He lost out to the Spanish in 2009, despite pushing David Ferrer to five sets in the second rubber, and arguably he is the key man this weekend. Not only is he able to cause an upset in singles – as was shown at the Shanghai Masters this year when he defeated Richard Gasquet and John Isner en route to a quarterfinal finish – but he is one of the best doubles players in the world. Stepanek and Berdych have a formidable 11-1 win-loss record in Davis Cup doubles rubbers and the former scored a psychological blow by defeating Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez at the ATP World Tour Finals last week.
Strengths: Serve and volley, variety in his game
Weaknesses: Defensive game
Ranking: No. 71
Titles this year: Won the Bratislava Challenger last week
Rosol shot to fame this summer after causing a monumental upset by defeating Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon – the last time the Spaniard appeared in a competitive match. He has provided Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil with a selection headache for the opening day of the final having won the Bratislava Challenger last week. Other than his shock win against Nadal, Rosol has reached three quarterfinals this year and is struggling to play his best tennis on a consistent basis.
Strengths: Serve, big groundstrokes
Weaknesses: Lacks consistency
Ranking: No. 184
Titles this year: Won the Santos Challenger in April
Minar is the least likely of the Czech quartet to have an active role in winning the Davis Cup Final. The lowest-ranked of all the finalists, his primary role this week will be to serve as a practice partner for the big guns on his team. Minar has played almost exclusively on the Challenger circuit this year and his best result was winning the Santos Challenger on the clay courts of Brazil.
Weaknesses: Hard courts, inexperience at this level
Ranking: No. 5
Titles this year: Auckland, Buenos Aires, Acapulco, ’s-Hertogenbosch, Bastad, Valencia, Paris-1000
The Spanish No. 1 is known as “The Wall” for his uncanny ability to return every ball hit his side of the net. At 30 years of age Ferrer is arguably playing the best tennis of his life and has without doubt had the best season of his career, winning seven titles on all three surfaces and breaking his duck at Masters-1000 level by taking the title at Paris earlier this month. A beast on clay, Ferrer has traditionally found the faster surfaces less to his liking, but that hasn’t stopped him from reaching semifinals at both the Australian Open and the US Open. Ferrer’s clash with his opposite number on the final day could well dictate the outcome of this tie and there is no doubt that he can cope with the pressure, having performed at the highest level all year.
Strengths: Fitness, speed around the court, great backcourt game
Weaknesses: Net game, serve
Ranking: No. 11
Titles this year: Sao Paulo and Nice
One of the best clay court players on the tour, Almagro is making his first appearance in a Davis Cup final having been the go-to man for Spanish captain Alex Corretja this year. He stepped into the role of Spanish No. 1 in the first round with aplomb and has backed up Ferrer to help preserve his team’s unbelievable home run of form. Less comfortable on surfaces other than his beloved clay, Almagro has shown that he can still be a match for even the very best on quicker courts as demonstrated by his run to the last 16 at both the Australian Open and the US Open this year and his quarterfinal finishes at Indian Wells and the Olympic Tennis Event.
Strengths: Forehand, baseline game
Weaknesses: Surfaces other than clay, volleying
Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez
Ranking: No. 5 doubles team
Titles this year: Three doubles titles, including the ATP World Tour Finals
Talk about hitting form at the right time. The Spanish duo of Granollers and Lopez stunned their peers by taking the title at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Monday. They play an unconventional doubles with both players happier to hit winners from the back of the court rather than kill points off at the net. Having been friends for a long time the pair only decided to play regularly as doubles partners at the start of this year, which has made captain Corretja’s selection process that much easier knowing he has an established partnership in the team. Lopez also won the title at Indian Wells this year alongside Rafael Nadal.
Strengths: Full of confidence
Weaknesses: Lack of Davis Cup experience, strength at the net
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