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In-form Czechs ready for Italy in Davis Cup

Posted on February 7, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Press conference in Ostrava on Tuesday, February 7, 2012

(L-R Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych, Jaroslav Navratil, Lukas Rosol, Frantisek Cermak)

In-form Czechs ready for Italy in Davis Cup

AP | Feb 7, 2012

OSTRAVA: The Czech Republic hopes to capitalize on the good recent form of leading players Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek in the Davis Cup tie against Italy this week.

The No. 7-ranked Berdych, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarterfinals, won his seventh career title on Sunday in the Open Sud de France final in Montpellier.

Stepanek won his maiden Grand Slam title when he teamed with Leander Paes of India to beat Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States in the Australian Open doubles final.

Berdych and Stepanek will play the singles and are ready to play the doubles on the indoor hard-court at CEZ Arena.

"With Radek, we have the strongest possible team," Berdych said on Tuesday, when he began training with the team for the first time.

"The court's fast, that's what we wanted. We are the favourites."

Lukas Rosol and doubles specialist Frantisek Cermak were also in the Czech squad.

Without Stepanek, the favoured Czechs were upset by Kazakhstan 3-2 last year in Ostrava, and had to beat Romania 5-0 in the playoffs to remain in the World Group.

The Czechs, relying on Berdych and Stepanek, reached the final in 2009 and semifinals in 2010.

The two have already announced that they plan to team up for the doubles at the London Olympics.

Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil was wary of Italy.

"We can't underestimate them, they have experienced players," he said.

The Italy team featured Andreas Seppi, Potito Starace, Simone Bolelli and Daniele Braccialli.

Italy won the last matchup 4-1 in 1995.

In 1980, the Czechs won their only Davis Cup title as Czechoslovakia, beating Italy 4-1.

Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti, who played in the final, acknowledged the Czechs are the favourite team "that's for sure" but said Italy was ready to fight.

"Tomas Berdych is among the top players in the world. The court is fast but the balls are a bit slower. We still have a chance to win," Barazzutti said.


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Czech Republic faces Italy in the World Group first round tournament


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