Nadal strikes the first blow as Spain take a 1-0 lead in the Davis Cup Finals.
|Spain captain Albert Costa is hoisted aloft by his team after the doubles win [AFP]|
Spain secured their second successive Davis Cup triumph – and their fourth in all – when they extended their lead over Czech Republic to an unassailable 3-0 in Saturday’s doubles.
A home victory was hardly in doubt after singles wins for Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer on Friday and Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco ensured there would be no last-day nerves by beating Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek 7-6 7-5 6-2.
The two Spaniards embraced and sank to the floor before joining their teammates on a lap of honour.
The result rounded off a deflating couple of days for the Czech pair, who were on the losing end of those singles rubbers on Friday.
It also confirmed that on clay, and in front of a home crowd, Spain are a class apart.
They were cheered home on Saturday by another sell-out crowd of 16,200 at the indoor Palau Sant Jordi, as they became the first team to successfully defend the Davis Cup since Sweden in 1998.
There was not much between the two teams in the first two sets on Saturday, with Spain’s greater assurance on the clay surface, plus the ear-splitting support from the crowd, seeing them through the key moments.
Spain took the first set 9-7 on the tiebreak after Berdych had missed a chance to win it on his serve.
The second was decided when Berdych, who struggled for form throughout, let slip 40-0 on his own serve to give Spain the break in game 11, Verdasco sealing the advantage with a crunching forehand from the baseline.
Spain rode the momentum into the third set and completed another win at the same Montjuic arena, built for the Olympics in 1992, that played host to their first Davis Cup success.
The victory over Australia here in 2000 was a watershed for Spain, who reached the final again in 2003, this time losing away to the Australians, before racking up further wins against the United States in 2004 and Argentina last year.