|Posted on September 19, 2010 at 7:37 AM|
The Czechs are trying to reach the Davis Cup final for the second straight year and trying to win it for the first time as an independent nation.They were blanked by Spain last year in the title series and claimed their lone Davis Cup crown while playing as Czechoslovakia in 1980. The Czech Republic, with a 2-1 lead ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles rubbers, will look to Berdych to beat Djokovic. Stepanek will contest the fifth rubber against Janko Tipsarevic.
Tomas Berdych: I have nothing to lose, I'll enjoy it
Coming off a great performance in New York and armed with home-courtadvantage,
Djokovic has to be considered a big favorite in this one
Czech Republic takes 2-1 lead in Davis Cup semis"We have now the best possible position, the pressure is on the Serbs. I think I'll play with Djokovic and I'm in another position, much better than on Friday. I will fight for every ball." Czech number one Tomas Berdych promised.
Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych have squared off three times in their careers, with Djokovic leading the head-to-head series 2-1. However, they most recently faced each other in the Wimbledon semis and Berdych cruised 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3. Djokovic is still hurting from that loss and he will be desperate for revenge.
Novak Djokovic defeated Tomas Berdych 46 63 62 64 to force a fifth rubber decided...
The Serbia-Czech Republic Davis Cup by BNP Paribas semifinal has gone into a live fifth rubber, after Novak Djokovic overcame a bad start and a scare that required his right knee to be bandaged, to beat Tomas Berdych 46 63 62 ... The tie – and with it the location for December’s final – is now in the hands of Janko Tipsarevic for Serbia and the Czech Radek Stepanek.
In arguably the most dramatic world group tie of the year, Djokovic fought back from an ominous first hour to break Berdych’s resistance, with a large slice of luck from an incident that looked at first as if it would finish the tie in the worst possible way.
The big-serving Berdych, unrecognisable from the unconfident man who put in an error-strewn display against Janko Tipsarevic on Friday, broke Djokovic in the seventh game, served out the first set, and was looking by far the stronger player into the second. He was winning his service games more comfortably than Djokovic, and things were looking grim for the host nation, who had to win the match to keep the tie alive.
But then drama struck midway through the second set. With Djokovic at 15-30 serving at 2-2, Berdych crunched a forehand which seemed certain to go for a winner. With the Czech fans already cheering, Djokovic made a miraculous recovery, scooping up a defensive forehand to drop the ball at Berdych’s feet. Berdych netted the volley, and the Serbs cheered. Djokovic suddenly punched the air – somewhat in the direction of the Czech fans – and the crowd went wild. The fuse had been lit.
Four points later Djokovic had held serve for 3-2, and the Belgrade Arena was on fire. As he ran out to receive at 2-3, the temperature was red-hot as 16,000 home fans got behind their hero. Perhaps because of the heat, Djokovic lunged for a Berdych smash that was pretty much a hopeless cause, stumbled and landed on his right knee. He ended up motionless on his right side in the corner of the playing area.
When he didn’t get up, Serbia’s captain Bogdan Obradovic and the umpire Cedric Mourier ran over to check him out. They called for the Serbian team physio. Suddenly, the spectacle that had just caught light was in danger of extinguishing itself right there. As Djokovic was helped to his chair to have his knee bandaged, Radek Stepanek came out of the locker room, mindful that the Czechs might be about to celebrate their passage to December’s final if Djokovic would have to retire.
But seven minutes after he had stumbled, the Serb took to the court with a strapping below his right knee, mirroring the strapping below Berdych’s left knee. So began the Serb’s own personal battle of wounded knee, and two things became immediately apparent. Djokovic could indeed still move, much to the relief of the crowd, and Berdych had lost his rhythm in the interruption.
Patiently sticking in some long rallies, Djokovic broke for the first time to lead 5-3, and moments later served out the second set.
Speaking immediately after the match, Djokovic said the fall “energised”
him. “It woke me up,” he said. “I didn’t feel great at the start of the match, Tomas was playing much better, and I needed something to happen, so maybe it was a sign.”
Djokovic carried his momentum into the third set, breaking Berdych twice to lead 4-1. The Czech then got one of the breaks back as Djokovic suffered his first breach of momentum since his injury time-out, but in the seventh game, he again had the crowd in his palm.
On break point to lead 5-2, Berdych seemed to have got the better of a long rally and played a neat angled drop volley. Djokovic raced up-court to retrieve it, another seemingly hopeless cause. This time he angled a one-handed backhand cross court beyond Berdych’s reach, to send the crowd screaming once more. But obviously not loud enough, for Djokovic went down on one knee, looked up at the massed ranks of spectators and put his hand to his ear, as if to say “I can’t hear you, shout louder!” It was pure theatre, and when he took the set 6-2 moments later, it was almost anticlimactic – the decisive moment had already passed.
The fourth set was much more open. Djokovic had his chances, but Berdych was playing better tennis than in the third set, and hung in. But at 4-4 he played a poor game, Djokovic broke, and there never seemed any doubt that he would serve out victory. When it came, he stood in the middle of the court with his arms aloft, soaking up the adulation of the ecstatic crowd.