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Czechs advance to Davis Cup final

Defending champions take an unbeatable 3-0 lead over Argentina after Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek strike again.

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2013 15:44
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Berdych and Stepanek beat Berlocq and Zeballos to improve their Davis Cup doubles record to 13-1 [AFP]

Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych led holders Czech Republic to a third Davis Cup final in five years after breezing past Argentina's Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos in Saturday's doubles.

Stepanek and Berdych won 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and three minutes to earn an unbeatable 3-0 lead after they had dominated Friday's singles.

The Czechs, who won the 2012 trophy by beating Spain 3-2 in Prague, will travel to either Canada or Serbia for the November 15-17 final.

"It's pure fantasy, the guys played at a hundred per cent again," said team captain Jaroslav Navratil.

"They didn't give the Argentineans a chance, they wiped them out, and we're very happy we can fight for the lovely trophy again after a year," he added.

"We would like to keep the trophy because it's beautiful," said Stepanek.

Formidable pair

The Czech duo on Saturday won the 13th of their 14 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together since teaming up in 2007, while Berlocq and Zeballos played their debut doubles match together in Prague.

Besides, Stepanek, the world number five in doubles rankings, got a boost from the US Open doubles title with Leander Paes a week ago.

Pushed on by an emotional crowd of more than 11,000 fans around the superfast hard court at Prague's O2 Arena, the Czechs benefited from good serving and Stepanek's dominance at the net.

All they needed was four breaks, one apiece in the first two sets and two in the third.

Berlocq was the first to lose his serve in game eight of the first set, handing the Czechs a 6-3 set win.

He failed again late in the second set which the Czechs won 6-4. Each of the Argentineans then lost their serve in the last set which the Czechs took 6-2.

"We played a great game. Everything was in the right place today, we didn't drop a serve," said Berdych.

"As long as you are able to make pressure on them, you make chances, and that's what we've done today," he added, calling the rubber "one of the very good matches together with Radek."

On Friday, Stepanek, the world number 61 in singles and Czech number two, saw off 30th-ranked Argentinean number-one player Juan Monaco 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2 in the opening rubber.

Fifth-ranked Berdych then beat world number 93 Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Argentina were missing their top star Juan Martin Del Potro, who is taking a break from the competition this year, as well as an injured David Nalbandian.

The 2012 Davis Cup triumph was the first for the Czechs since Czechoslovakia, which split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, won the trophy in 1980 with a team led by then 20-year-old Ivan Lendl.

Argentina, who have played three finals in the last seven years, are still seeking their first Davis Cup trophy.

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Source:
AFP
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