|Posted on November 18, 2012 at 4:30 PM|
DAVIS CUP WORLD GROUP FINAL 2012
STEPANEK CLINCHES DAVIS CUP CROWN FOR CZECHS
Prague, Czech Republic
by ATP Staff | 18.11.2012
Radek Stepanek clinched the 100th Davis Cup final for the Czech Republic on Sunday after defeating Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in the decisive fifth rubber in Prague. It is the Czechs’ second Davis Cup triumph, and their first as an independent nation, having won the coveted ITF men’s team trophy for the first time under the Czechoslovakia flag in 1980 in a team led by Ivan Lendl.
David Ferrer had drawn defending champion Spain level at 2-2 after defeating Tomas Berdych in straight sets, but Stepanek held his nerve to edge Almagro 6-4, 7-6(0), 3-6, 6-3 in three hours and 52 minutes.
"I was dreaming about it my whole life and now we're standing here as Davis Cup champions, it's amazing," said Stepanek. "I had a lot of chances in the second set. I was playing very aggressive today; I wanted to be the one who was more active. Even though I lost the third set, I had no doubt about my tactics. I came on the court with a mindset that I had to stay calm, hungry and concentrated. That's what I did tremendously well today."
Playing his third match of the weekend, having crucially won the doubles rubber with Berdych in four sets on Saturday to give the Czechs a 2-1 lead, Stepanek took the opening set against Almagro with a service break in the 10th game, attacking the Spaniard’s second serve to force an error.
Almagro put Spain back in contention in the second set as he fought off three break points on his own serve before breaking Stepanek to lead 3-2. The Murcia native’s lead was short-lived, though, as Stepanek hit back to level at 4-4. Almagro went onto save three set points, one in the 10th game and two in the 12th game, but he had no answer to Stepanek’s aggression in the tie-break. The 33-year-old Czech was rampant and a backhand winner won the breaker 7-0 for a commanding two-set lead.
Stepanek squandered a 0/40 chance on Almagro’s serve at the start of the third set and was made to rue his missed opportunity as the Spaniard broke for a 4-2 lead before going onto claim the set. Stepanek quickly extinguished Spanish hopes of a comeback, though, breaking for a 3-0 in the fourth set. Almagro saved a match point with a backhand overhead in the eighth game, but Stepanek closed it out on serve as Almagro netted a backhand.
Ferrer had kept Spanish hopes alive earlier in the day by producing a masterclass to dismiss World No. 6 Berdych 6-2, 6-3, 7-5. The 30-year-old Ferrer recorded an ATP World Tour-best 76th match win of the season and remained undefeated in Davis Cup play in 2012. Spain was contesting the Davis Cup final for the fourth time in five years and was bidding to win the title for the sixth time since 2000.
Radek Stepanek in action against Spain's Nicolas Almagro during their Davis Cup finals tennis singles match in Prague, Czech Republic, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (TV Captures)
Ester Satorova and Nicole Vaidisova in the audience during the match Stepanek/Almagro
Tomas Berdych cheers on team mate Radek Stepanek
Stepanek defies age to propel Czechs to stunning victory!
Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek celebrate Davis Cup victory over Spain
DAVIS CUP BY BNP PARIBAS WORLD GROUP FINAL: SPAIN v CZECH REPUBLIC
November 18, 2012
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
R. STEPANEK/N. Almagro
6 4, 7 6, 3 6, 6 3
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the winners, the team of the Czech Republic. Questions, please.
Q. Radek, one hour after the victory, are you still in heaven and can you now more describe what you are feeling?
RADEK STEPANEK: I think I'm living the dream right now. I believe all of us, the whole country, lives a dream today.
We've been working very hard for this moment. You know, we put ourselves on the line. We put our hard work, our hearts, everything in it.
Today we touched the Davis Cup. It stays with us for a year, for our country, after 32 years. It's something which will be remembered, I hope, forever because I would like to say to see the guys who won it in 1980, they've been an inspiration for us. For me personally they've been idols.
For us to play a team competition is a very rare opportunity during the year. Standing next to the Cup with them was something amazing.
If you let me talk, I will talk until tomorrow, but we don't have time for that (smiling).
Q. Radek, have you ever had support like that from a crowd during your career?
RADEK STEPANEK: I think today, it was the best atmosphere I ever played tennis in. I think something that was a little comparable was 2007 when we played against Switzerland here. If I'm not mistaken, I think the guys will be with me.
Our fans, no matter where we play, they've been with us. They've been with us in Argentina, in Croatia. We know how much it takes for them to be with us during those matches, how much money it costs to them. We are very thankful to them for being with us.
The atmosphere today, I think you all see that was something really, really amazing.
Q. Radek, will you continue playing Davis Cup or is this it?
RADEK STEPANEK: Si, señor.
Q. Is the fact you are giving one point, Tomas gets one point, you get one point together...
RADEK STEPANEK: It makes three.
Q. Does it make more beautiful than if it was only one of you?
RADEK STEPANEK: We've been talking about a team competition. We are not here as individuals. We play our matches as individuals, but we are here for the team.
Doesn't matter if I do two and a half, or Tomas do two and a half. Why we come together is we always want to make three, no matter how.
That's what we've been focused on since the beginning of the week. We made it together all the way through.
Q. Radek, you were on court for 10 and a quarter hours this weekend. In an ideal world, would you like to share the workload or are you happy as a two man team virtually, on court? It was almost exclusively yourself and Tomas. Are you happy to continue that way or would you rather have two other guys who can play every doubles?
RADEK STEPANEK: You know, you're moving too far. I've been on court 10 and a half hours. Tomas was there nearly the same.
I said, whatever it takes to win the Davis Cup, we go through it. No matter what, we never cry that we play for three days. We always have two guys by our side who are ready to back up us. They are part of the team. They are working hard with us throughout the week. They are here for us no matter what any time of the day.
This is a team effort.
As I said, no matter what it takes, we are ready all to put our hearts, our persons on the line.
Q. Radek, have you dreamt of this when you were a child? Have you already realized that you are legends of Czech Republic tennis? Do you feel like that?
RADEK STEPANEK: Honestly, this was my lifetime dream. I lifted this trophy. We all did. I think definitely we're going to be legends. Maybe if we are today, it's a great feeling to be. But now we want to enjoy the success we had. We know what we gaved throughout the years, all of us. Now the whole country can celebrate.
One day it will be nice if we are going to be also on the court with different guys like the winners from 1980 were here with us. It will be great for our country. We are just pleased and enjoying every second of it.
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, I mean, Radek said pretty much everything.
Definitely it was one of my dreams. Now I'm in the position that I can go through that. It's really amazing feeling.
As Radek said, it's just great to be part of the group of just eight people who did it in our country. Probably we are going to realize it even more when time is going to go. Right now is really too short. All the emotions, everything goes through our minds. Now it's really tough to say how exactly it feels.
But it's really amazing. I'm extremely happy to be part of this whole team through all those years and finally we can be sitting here as the champions.
RADEK STEPANEK: I would like to say one thing. We, the whole team, have to congratulate the Spanish team because I think all the guys, they fight like crazy, the whole team. They are one of the most successful teams in Davis Cup history. The match was played very, very fair. The guys, they deserve respect what they did here.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports