Ferrer forces Davis Cup down to decider

Updated 19 November 2012
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Ferrer forces Davis Cup down to decider

PRAGUE: David Ferrer kept Spain’s hopes of retaining the Davis Cup title alive after beating Czech No.1 Tomas Berdych in straight sets here yesterday to draw them level at 2-2 in the final.
Ferrer, the world No.5, needed just two hours and 25 minutes to see off sixth-ranked Berdych 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 on the hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena.
The Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek, the world No. 37, will now take on Spain’s 11th-ranked Nicolas Almagro in the decisive rubber.
Berdych, who played a four-hour five-setter on Friday and the doubles rubber on Saturday, got off to a slow start against Ferrer.
The 27-year-old Czech lost his very first serve in the first set and then another to let Ferrer, 30, get ahead without too much trouble.
“He (Berdych) played a lot of matches, he played five sets with Nicolas and four sets yesterday,” said Ferrer.
“I played very focused, very aggressive, I started really good and maybe that was the key,” he added, praising his first serve and forehand.
Ferrer broke Berdych’s serve early in the second set for a 3-0 lead that prompted Berdych to take a bathroom break.
But even that did not help, Berdych was flat and allowed Ferrer to gain the upper hand in long exchanges and finally take the second set too.
In the third set, Berdych managed to come back from 4-2 down but the home crowd of more than 14,000 people did not cheer long as Ferrer broke him again to win the rubber.
“It’s very difficult to beat Tomas in three sets but I played one of the best matches of my career in Davis Cup,” said Ferrer.
“I tried to focus on every point, to do my game. I was playing with confidence.” “I’m very happy because it’s very important for me and my team.” Berdych did not conceal his disappointment.
“In Davis Cup this year, I have lost only one rubber and it was the last one,” he said.
“Ferrer played an excellent game and I was always way behind him,” Berdych added.
He denied being tired after playing on both Friday and Saturday.
“I was feeling well, almost the same as when I started on Friday. That makes it even harder (to swallow) for me,” said Berdych.
On Friday, Ferrer beat Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Berdych then put the Czechs level after beating Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.
In Saturday’s doubles rubber, Berdych and Stepanek beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 for their 12th victory in Davis Cup doubles against a single loss.
Spain are missing world number four Rafael Nadal, who is recovering from a knee injury.
They are looking to win the Davis Cup for the fourth time in five years, in addition to trophies won in 2000 and 2004.
The Czech Republic is eyeing the first trophy since becoming an independent country after a 1993 split with Slovakia.
Former Czechoslovakia won the Davis Cup in 1980.


Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

Updated 49 min 57 sec ago
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Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

  • The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
  • After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.

Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #Wenger Out believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.