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19 September 2009

Can the Czechs cash in on Davis Cup final?



  • Craig Gabriel
When the Czech Davis Cup team travels to Spain for the final of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas they are probably not going to get the reception they received in Porec, where, although visitors in Croatia for September’s semifinal, the travelling Czech supporters all but outnumbered the locals in quantity and volume.

It was a major boost for Jaroslav Navratil’s team of Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych, Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hernych as they closed out Croatia 4-1. In the reverse singles Jan Hajek defeated Roko Karanusic and Lovro Zovko salvaged some national pride when he defeated Lukas Dlouhy.

The Czechs will contest the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Final for the third time in the 76 years they have been in the competition, but first since 1980, when Czechoslovakia lifted the Davis Cup in Prague by defeating Italy.

They know that Spain is going to be tough, irrespective of which city is chosen for the final. It will be completely different to anything in Croatia and it will be in a fully packed stadium. If the noise of the crowd with their chanting, bugles, drums and stomping was loud then in Spain it will sound like a whisper. The decibel levels will rise considerably once 10,000 fans get their vocal cords going.

“It’s going to be a really tough atmosphere there so we hope our fans are going to come and try to scream a little bit in the back of the huge pack of Spanish fans, so we will see,” said Berdych.

Stepanek too is not under any misapprehensions about what it’s going to be like in Spain. “They have the best clay-court players in the world and definitely we are going to be outsiders but we’ve been in that situation a couple of times this year and we used it to our advantage and I believe we are going to do the same thing in December,” he said.

He said Davis Cup creates the biggest emotions in a player and there is nothing else that can match it. His match against Ivo Karlovic was a case in point as he faced a world record of 78 aces and survived four match points to win in 5 hours 59 minutes.

That was the match that set up the semifinal victory for the Czech Republic. Even though Berdych went five sets in his match against Marin Cilic, he went into the match with the pressure off.

“We are happy to be in the finals of the Davis Cup but we are not satisfied yet,” said Stepanek.

There is no doubt that Spain is the major favourite to win the Cup for the fourth time overall and for the second year running, but in Davis Cup you never really know what is going to happen til the last point is played and with that in mind the Czechs will be giving it everything they’ve got.

Related Links on other websites
> Information from Croatia
> Information in Czech - CTA

Related Links on
> Tie Information
> Scorecards and statistics from the tie
> Audio interviews from the tie
> Radek and Tomas 'Czech' into final
> Czech marathon men prevail
> Croatia goes for hat trick

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