|Posted on March 6, 2010 at 7:03 PM|
Czech Davis Cup team celebrates victory over Belgium
06 Mar 2010 - Bree, Belgium - BEL v CZE - Eli Weinstein
Czechs glide into quarterfinals
Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych proved too good for Belgium, not only in singles but also in doubles. Czech Republic successfully qualified for the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas after clinching the third and decisive point in the doubles 76 60 63.
As expected, Jaroslav Navratil did not go with his nominated team. The Czech captain decided once again to go with his two star players, Stepanek and Berdych, and do without Lukas Dhlouy, the fifth ranked doubles player in the world.
On the other hand, Belgian captain Reginald Willems stuck with his decision to pair Olivier Rochus with Steve Darcis, the latter the only one of the four players on court to have yet to hit a ball in the tie.
Czechs take first set on tiebreak
Up to three games apiece in the first set, each server held without having to face a break point. The first to run into trouble was Olivier Rochus; down 15-40, the Belgian was broken thanks to a textbook backhand passing shot down the line from Davis Cup expert Stepanek.
The Belgians then had to save their first set point while trailing 3-5 on the Darcis serve. In the following game, Berdych was unable to serve out the set and the “red devils”, as they are nicknamed, tied the set at five all. At six all, the Czechs lifted their level of play and grabbed the set without dropping a single point in the tie-break.
When Rochus was broken again early in the second set to put the Czechs up 2-0 it looked as though the celebration beer would be Czech and not Belgian, an idea reinforced when the Czechs broke the Darcis serve to take a 4-0 double break lead. The next two games were also in favour of Stepanek and Berdych as the pair won the second set 60.
Up 2-1 in the third, the Czechs decided to take things up a notch, and it did not seem coincidental that they managed to do it on the Rochus serve. The elder and better ranked of the two players was inarguably the weak link of the Belgian pair. The break and the consolidation that followed put the 2009 runners-up ahead 4-1 and only eight points away from a quarterfinal place.
Berdych serves it out
The third set highlight for the Belgians came at 2-4 when they had two break point opportunities, neither of which was converted. At 5-3, Tomas Berdych had a chance to serve out the match and after a hold to love, it was game, set and tie to the Czech Republic.
“I still can’t believe how great the guys played this week-end. With a team like this I am confident against any nation”, announced Navratil.
Jaroslav Navratil’s men now have to wait to know which of Israel or Chile will be their quarterfinal opponents. In the case of Israel, the tie would be played in the Czech Republic, and should Chile defeat the Israelis, the Czechs would travel to Chile for what promises to be a “hot” tie.
“I want to congratulate the Czechs. They really played unbelievable. My players do not need to be ashamed of their performance, but when the other team is that much better, you just need to admit and say it,” confessed Reginald Willems.
As for the Belgians, they will have to wait for the World Group Play-off draw on May 11th to know who they will face to try to maintain their World Group status.
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