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Tennis
Czechs set up Davis Cup final against Spain
Tomas Berdych's win over Carlos Berlocq puts Czechs into final that could yet feature Rafael Nadal.
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2012 17:42
Berdych skipped through his match against Berloch in straight sets in Buenos Aires [EPA]

Czech Republic took an unassailable 3-1 lead over Argentina with Tomas Berdych's comfortable 6-3 6-3 6-4 win over Carlos Berlocq on Sunday and will meet holders Spain in the Davis Cup final.

Argentina's chances of reaching a second consecutive final had diminished on Saturday when world number eight Juan Martin del Potro pulled out of Sunday’s first reverse singles against Berdych with a left wrist injury.

Del Potro had won the first point of the semi-final tie at Parque Roca when he beat Radek Stepanek in Friday's opening singles before world number six Berdych beat Juan Monaco in five sets.

Del Potro, however, was forced to pull out after aggravating a problem for which his doctor had recommended a fortnight's rest after last week's U.S. Open.

The Czechs, who lost the 2009 final to Spain in Barcelona, will be at home this time. They have won the trophy once as Czechoslovakia in 1980.

Berdych was never really in danger against the 45th-ranked Berlocq, who had been picked for his maiden Davis Cup tie at 29 as Eduardo Schwank's doubles partner in the absence of the injured David Nalbandian.

Berdych and Stepanek won the doubles in three sets on Saturday to put the Czechs 2-1 up. Berdych seemed to have another gear he could call on if Berlocq managed to turn up the heat, the gear he resorted to when he was 2-1 and 4-1 down in the fourth set to Monaco on Friday.

Berlocq, comfortable on clay, fed on the rowdy home crowd support to trouble Berdych with timely attacks at the net but was more often on the defensive, fully stretched in long rallies in which the Czech moved him from corner to corner.

He prolonged the match in the third set with an emotional break of Berdych's service in the seventh game but that signalled the end of his brave resistance.

Spain's entry into the Davis Cup final raised speculation over whether Rafael Nadal's injured left knee will mend in time for him to rejoin the "Armada" to fight for a sixth title in November.

"I hope he gets better soon because he is really fundamental for us," said David Ferrer, after beating John Isner of the United States on Sunday to take Spain to their fourth Davis Cup final in five years.

Team captain Alex Corretja avoided speculating when questioned on the likelihood of a return by November for Nadal, whose knee injury kept him out of the Olympics and the U.S. Open this summer.

"We will monitor the players over the coming weeks, talk to all those we think appropriate, and go and see what condition they are in and then choose the players we think appropriate," Corretja said after Sunday's victory.

"We always hope to count on everyone and obviously Rafa is the same as everyone else."

Nadal played a key part in Spain's last Davis Cup final win over Argentina, beating Juan Monaco and Juan Martin Del Potro in Seville in December 2011.

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