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16 September 2012

Berdych blasts Czechs to the Final


MATCH REPORT

By 

  • Craig Gabriel

Photo: Sergio LlameraRadek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych (CZE)

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Czech Republic is through to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final for the first time since 2009 and for only the second time since they won the title as Czechoslovakia in 1980. It will be a rematch of the 2009 final, where Czech Republic fell to Spain, but this time Czech Republic will play host.

Tomas Berdych, wearing the same shirt he wore at the Olympics because he is “a little superstitious”, gave his nation the unassailable 3-1 lead over the home team, Argentina when he defeated substitute player Carlos Berlocq who replaced the injured Juan Martin del Potro 63 63 64. The match lasted two hours 45 minutes and ended when Berdych struck forehand winner on the line.

“We made it and that was the goal we brought in here, to try the almost impossible and try and win here,” Berdych said. “The whole team had that belief that we could make it. It’s not impossible to win in Argentina as we proved.

“That’s even better to win with such a crazy crowd in probably giving us so much for the future and I’m really excited to be in the final again.”

This result marked the first time that Argentina had lost at Parque Roca and it is the first time they have lost on clay at home since 1998.

“We were definitely not the favourites for the tie but it’s not important every time for my point of view,” Berdych said. “I was feeling really, really well coming from the States, playing the semifinals there beating Roger Federer, playing very close match against the winner of the US Open, Andy Murray, so I was feeling really good.

“I wanted to show it here that my game is on top and I can play well. I did it, won my two singles, made half a point in the doubles and that’s it, what we needed.”

The first set lasted 46 minutes and was crucial for the home team. Berlocq had to get on the board at that stage to give the Argentines a chance. The first seven games went with serve but in the eighth game Berdych broke to 15. Berlocq fought hard to hold serve as he faced the two break points but the Czech’s greater experience in Davis Cup saw him rise to the occasion.

On his first set point Berdych sent a return to Berlocq’s backhand and the Argentine produced an unforced error to surrender the set.

Berdych faced some pressure in the second game of the second set when he had to save three break points but when Berlocq was unable to convert any of them he appeared vulnerable. In the following game the Czech player pounced, breaking without much effort, sealing things with a backhand passing shot.

Berlocq did threaten to break serve on one more occasion in the set but Berdych remained too strong mentally and he rode out the mini crisis. The pressure was certainly on the local player and having a sporting legend like Diego Maradona also trying to encourage you probably made him feel all the more nervous.

The Czech No. 1 created three break points at 0-40 and broke again to 15 as Berlocq continued to try desperately to keep the home team alive. Berdych rifled a forehand cross court winner and you could see that any wind that might have been left in Berlocq’s sails had now left. The Czech’s were lead two sets to love up.

In the third set Berdych opened up a 4-1 lead but suddenly Berlocq found a second wind and broke the Czech as the crowd, lead feverishly by Maradona, went crazy. The noise was ear-piercing and with the crowd singing with one voice it was mesmerizing to watch as the flags of Argentina and the Czech Republic were caught by the strong breezes.

The set was levelled at 4-4 but then Berdych held for 5-4. He went up 0-40 on Berlocq’s serve before closing out the match to 15. It took Berdych a few seconds to realise he had won and then he raised his arms in victory.

“It was a really tough crowd and it was tough with the windy conditions,” Berdych said. “It didn’t help for the match but it was the same for both of us, actually not the crowd, but I was dealing with it much better. I made it in three sets and now we can go and celebrate.”

Captain Martin Jaite (ARG) - 16/09/2012

Tomas Berdych (CZE) - 16/09/2012

Captain Jaroslav Navratil (CZE) - 16/09/2012

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    • Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych (CZE)Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek and captain Jaroslav Navratil (CZE)
    • Czech team celebrateJuan Martin del Potro (ARG)
    • Captain Martin Jaite (ARG)Captain Jaroslav Navratil and Tomas Berdych (CZE)
    • Carlos Berlocq (ARG)Carlos Berlocq (ARG)
    •  Tomas Berdych (CZE) Tomas Berdych (CZE)
    • Carlos Berlocq (ARG)ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, AAT President Arturo Grimaldi and former Argentine player Guillermo Coria
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