Czech Republic landed their first Davis Cup title since their split from Czechoslovakia with a 3-2 victory over Spain in the final on Sunday in Prague.
The 100th Davis Cup final did not disappoint, with it going down to the last singles match up between Radek Stepanek and Nicolas Almagro with both sides locked on two points each.
The final rubber also went all the way, with Stepanek sealing his side’s decisive point in the fifth set, overcoming the world number 11 6-4 7-6 (7-0) 3-6 6-3.
Spain have dominated this competition in recent years, winning in 2008, 2009 and in 2011 but a fourth success in five years was taken away from them by the Czechs, who were helped in their bid to upset the tennis odds by Tomas Berdych. He had recently been playing in the World Tour Finals in London amongst the best eight players on the planet.
It was Spain who took an early lead in this tie, when David Ferrer (50/1 in the Paddy Power Australian Open odds to win the event early next year) despatched Stepanek in straight sets 6-3 6-4 6-4, with the early signs suggesting the visitors were on course for yet another Davis Cup title. However, Berdych got them on the board in the second singles tie on Friday when he beat Almagroin 5, winning the final set 6-3 after the Spaniard had levelled the game in a tie breaker in the fourth.
With the single pairings on Sunday looking to be very even once again, the doubles match on day two was always going to be crucial. Czech Republic captain Jaroslav Navratil opted to pair Berdych and Stepanek together and it paid off when they beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez. There was an earlier scare for the home side after they lost the first set 3-6, however, they came surging back
winning three consecutive sets 7-5 7-5 6-3 respectively, to give their team the advantage going into the final day.
On the Sunday, Ferrer had to beat Berdych to keep his side in the tie otherwise the final game would have been a dead rubber and he duly obliged with an easy straight sets win 6-2 6-3 7-5 to give Spain hope and what seemed the momentum.
There was one final twist though, and Stepanek produced one of the results of his career to get past Almagro under extreme pressure. He was boosted by the home support whowere right behind their man to seal the fifth a decisive point on offer in the game.