PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC: This year’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final might be the 100th in the competition’s illustrious history and it might be a re-match of the 2009 clash, but it is not about going down in history and it’s not about revenge. It’s all about winning.
That was the view of both teams at the pre-draw press conferences that took place at the O2 Arena in Prague on Tuesday. And the two sides also agreed that the Czechs go into this year’s final as the favourites owing to the fact that they are playing at home.
“The final in Barcelona we were in completely a different position and all that was against us is now going to be on our side,” said Czech No. 1 Tomas Berdych, who was on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona in 2009. “It’s still on us players to go there and fight for the three points. We will do everything we possibly can to get those three points.”
His teammate and doubles partner, Radek Stepanek, dismissed the notion that the hosts would like to gain revenge for that loss three years ago and echoed his countryman’s sentiments.
“For us the most important thing is to have three points on Sunday – that’s why we’re here. The final in Barcelona was a great experience that we can learn from and use that experience in front of our home crowd. The most important is the three points and that’s what we’re focusing on.”
Spanish No. 1, David Ferrer, has fond memories of his team’s victory on home soil against the Czechs in 2009 and particularly of his four-hour, 17-minute marathon win over Stepanek in the second singles rubber.
“It was a very emotional match,” said the Spaniard. “It was a really close match. I won in five sets – that was my second Davis Cup [title] and first one at home in Spain, and one of the best moments of my career.”
The fact that this year’s showpiece is the 100th Davis Cup Final hasn’t gone unnoticed in either camp, but Spanish captain Alex Corretja didn’t think his team would feel more pressure to win, especially given the fact that they already have five titles to their name since the turn of the century.
He said: “It would be unbelievable to win the 100th one. We’re here to win; we didn’t come here to lose. We need to do very well and I believe our opponents, playing at home, are favourites. It would be very nice again to see Spain win in the 100th history but we don’t feel more pressure.”
Nicolas Almagro made no secret of how much he valued taking part in the competition and how he would leave everything on court in the name of winning a sixth title.
“It’s one of the most important weeks of the year,” said the Spanish No. 2. “I think we are ready to fight and try to win the Davis Cup and we will know that will not be easy. We did a really good season and we are going to do our best on court.”
With the Czech Fed Cup team having won in this very same arena just two weeks ago, the home nation’s fans are hopeful and possibly even a little bit expectant that the men can cement their country’s place in the history books by becoming the first team to win Hopman Cup, Fed Cup and Davis Cup in the same year.
And the history of the occasion means there will also be some familiar faces from the past to cheer on both sides, including the Czech title winning team from 1980. Berdych explained that his team had already had a visit from the great Ivan Lendl.
“It’s going to be very nice that they can all come here and be here and support us. I already met with Ivan Lendl and he came to see us on the court. It’s just great. If we’d be like Spain, that they’re winning it almost every year, it wouldn’t be unique, but just once the guys made it, [which] makes it even more special.”
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