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04 February 2013

Czechs look ahead to quarterfinal clash



  • Richard Fleming

Photo: Paul ZimmerTomas Berdych (CZE)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Within minutes of watching Tomas Berdych clinch the tie-winning point on Sunday in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas contest with Switzerland, the Czech Republic captain Jaroslav Navratil was already casting his mind to the quarterfinals.

The defending champions must travel to Kazakhstan, and Navratil is keen to take the strongest possible team.

He said: “Now we are going to Kazakhstan, which is not an easy opponent but I hope after two important tournaments – Key Biscayne and Indian Wells – my players are ready and I wait, also, for Radek Stepanek.”

Without Stepanek in the side, victory over a Federer-less Switzerland was expected to be a little tougher.

His absence, due to a back injury, meant additional work for Berdych, but the world No. 6 won all three of his matches, and he will be key if the Czechs are to make further progress in this competition.

Moments after the draw was made for this tie, Swiss player Marco Chiudinelli pointed to the doubles as being their weak link, and suggested a change in fortune was needed if they were to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2004.

Following wins for Stanislas Wawrinka and Berdych on Friday, the tie was level going into Saturday’s doubles.

Unfortunately for Switzerland, Lady Luck again failed to shine on them as they succumbed 2422 in the fifth set, in a record-breaking match lasting seven hours and one minute.

It was the longest Davis Cup match ever, and the second longest match in tennis history, after the Wimbledon epic involving John Isner and Nicolas Mahut.

That crushing defeat placed greater pressure on Wawrinka in Sunday’s reverse singles – something Chiudinelli had been hoping to avoid.

Swiss captain, Severin Luthi, said: “I know that the doubles is always very important but once again we couldn’t win it.

“That doubles win for the Czechs maybe also gave them a little advantage in the singles on Sunday, with Stan (Wawrinka) against Berdych, so that’s how sport goes and we’re going to try next time again.”

One bright element for Switzerland, as they look to the future, was the emergence of debutant Henri Laaksonen.

His only previous Davis Cup experience was when playing for Finland, but he will have gathered much from this weekend. He took a set off Berdych in Friday’s singles, and seemingly grew with every strike of the ball, before overcoming Jiri Vesely in the dead rubber on Sunday afternoon.

Lukas Rosol and Berdych were the doubles pairing which created history on Saturday. Rosol certainly more than played his part in the marathon match, but Berdych is the main man and was revelling in the role.

He said at the end of the record-breaking weekend: “Even if somebody beats this record in the future I will have this experience which I can share with anybody.

“These kind of experiences are what this competition is all about. That’s why it keeps me coming back.

“You play the tennis for the memories, and once you’ve achieved something, the memories are something which nobody can steal from you.”

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SUI Flag Switzerland v Czech Republic CZE Flag 1 Feb 2013 - 3 Feb 2013 View details

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  • More photos

    • Tomas Berdych (CZE)Henri Laaksonen (SUI)
    • Henri Laaksonen (SUI) and captain Severin LuthiStanislas Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)
    • Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) leaves the courtStanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
    • Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)Stanislas Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)
    • Lukas Rosol (CZE)Henri Laaksonen (SUI) and Tomas Berdych (CZE)
    • Lukas Rosol  and Tomas Berdych (CZE)Tomas Berdych (CZE)
    • Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol (CZE)Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil (CZE)
    • Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) and Tomas Berdych (CZE)Tomas Berdych (CZE)
    • Tomas Berdych (CZE)Tomas Berdych (CZE) and girlfriend

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