|Posted on March 5, 2016 at 2:40 PM|
Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic celebrate after match point against Philipp Petzschner and Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in their doubles match during day two of the Davis Cup World Group first round between Germany and Czech Republic at TUI Arena on March 5, 2016 in Hanover, Germany.
Czech dream team on fire again in Hannover
Saturday, March 5, 2016 | By Leigh Walsh (Official Davis Cup website)
HANNOVER, GERMANY: Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek have given Czech Republic an all-important 2-1 lead over Germany in Hannover after combining superbly to clinch the all-important doubles point.
The Czech duo saw off the threat of Philipp Kohlschreiber and Philipp Petzscher in two hours and 43 minutes to edge a tight encounter 76(7) 75 64.
Berdych and Stepanek improve to 16-2 in Davis Cup doubles with the win, strengthening their status as Czech Republic’s most successful pair in the history of the team competition. It also brought up half a century of victories for Berdych in Davis Cup.
The scoreline at the end of play read three straight sets, but this was a match of fine margins with just two breaks - both on Petzschner’s serve - deciding the outcome.
Despite playing away from home the Czechs came into the match as the slight favourites. It had been 18 months since Berdych and Stepanek last teamed up but as captain Jaroslav Navratil explained on Friday night, “they just understand each other. Not just on the court, but privately too. They are very good friends.”
It didn’t take long for either team to settle into the occasion and why would it? With 168 combined rubbers played between them, the importance of today’s doubles point needed no explaining and the tennis was high quality from the start with the contrasting styles of all four players adding to the appeal.
Seven break points came and went in the first set - three for the Germans and four for the Czechs - and after 12 lengthy games a tiebreak was upon us. It seemed to swing in the Germans’ favour at 4-4 when Petzschner, superbly, picked up a deep Stepanek volley off his shoelaces, sending it back over the Czech’s head to go 5-4 up.
But it was a case of anything you can do we can do better, and back came the Czechs with Stepanek rising to the occasion. The veteran put up a stunning topspin lob, which left the Germans stranded, to go 8-7 up and they finally found the breakthrough on their third set point when Kohlschreiber sent a backhand crashing into the net.
The Czechs won 58 points to the Germans’ 57 in that first set and their tug-of-war battle continued until 5-5 in the second when Berdych lit up the TUI Arena with some spectacular tennis.
He ripped a backhand return winner for 0-30 before his exquisite lob evaded Kohlschreiber at the net. With three break points on their racket the visitors only needed one, and a delightful dipping return from Berdych onto Petzschner’s feet set up Stepanek to put away the volley for the break and essentially, the set.
At 1-1 in the third, the Czechs broke for the second time in the match to seize control. With Stepanek producing some wonderful touches around the net, the victors served out the rest of the set in style to seal a vital win.