AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Thursday 15 November 2012
Last update 15 November 2012 5:22 am
PRAGUE: The Czech Republic will aim to avenge a humiliating 5-0 defeat in the 2009 Davis Cup final when they take on holders Spain in this year’s climax starting here tomorrow.
The team led by Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek will also want to add another trophy to the Fed Cup which the Czech women’s team lifted in Prague earlier this month.
World No. 6 Berdych and 37th-ranked Stepanek are due to face David Ferrer, who stands fifth in the rankings, and 11th-ranked Nicolas Almagro in the singles on the hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena.
Spain will miss their No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who is recovering from a knee injury and who led the team in the 2009 thrashing of the Czechs on a clay court in Barcelona.
Stepanek waved that bad memory aside, saying “a lot of time has passed since then.”
“Our three greatest advantages are the choice of surface, the home crowd and Nadal’s absence,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Berdych, meanwhile, maintained that a lack of experience had hurt the Czechs back in 2009.
“It was the first final we ever played,” he said, adding that the Prague tie would be “absolutely different.” “I hope all the differences that we see as pros will make it easier for us to win three points,” he said.
Spain’s captain Alex Corretja agreed that the memory of 2009 would not mean much.
“I wish I could say yes but unfortunately I have to say no. It’s an absolutely different competition, playing on clay and on this surface,” he said.
The surface — Novacrylic Ultracushion — which the Czechs tested during the Fed Cup finals two weeks ago — can make all the difference.
“It’s well prepared, I’d say the surface is faster than at regular tournaments,” said Berdych.
David Ferrer was less pleased with the choice of surface.
“The court is the fastest of the year, we never play on a faster court,” he said.
“For them it’s better than for us,” he said, adding that he expected “a very close tie.”
Sticking with the team that beat Argentina in the semi-finals, Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil also called up world number 87 Lukas Rosol and 186th-ranked Ivo Minar.
Corretja has also left the team unchanged from the semi-finals in which they eased past the United States.
For the doubles, Spain will bet on Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, who got a massive boost on Monday as they won the ATP Tour Finals in London.
“We come here with a lot of confidence,” said Granollers.
But Stepanek said this did not mean much: “That doesn’t really count here, Davis Cup is a unique contest.”
Stepanek and India’s Leander Paes were the only pair to beat Granollers and Lopez in London.
“It’s great to test the way they play,” said Stepanek, who will team up with Berdych for the final doubles.
“We’ve been doing great together, I hope it won’t be any different here,” Stepanek said.
The 100th edition of the Davis Cup final will be played in front of almost 14,000 people — a crowd that pushed the Czech women’s team to a Fed Cup defense following a final victory over Serbia on the first weekend in November.
A Davis Cup win would give Czechs a rare team double — last achieved by the United States in 1990.
Spain are looking to add a fourth crown to their three Davis Cup trophies from the last four years. They also won the cup in 2000 and 2004.
Czechoslovakia, which split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, won the Davis Cup in 1980 with a team led by the then 20-year-old Ivan Lendl.