TENNIS / Ferrer and Berdych give their respective teams winning leads in the reverse singles

David Ferrer beat John Isner 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to send defending champion Spain back into the Davis Cup final with a winning 3-1 lead in the semifinal tie over USA on Sunday.

In Buenos Aires, Tomas Berdych gave visiting Czech Republic a 3-1 lead by beating Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in the first of the reverse singles so secure his team’s place in the final.

Spain, which will try to win its fourth title in five years, stretched its record home winning streak to 24 straight ties. It has not lost on clay since 1999.

“I’m very happy and this is a dream for me. Another Davis Cup final,” said Ferrer, who has played a part in each of Spain’s last three titles.

Spain captain Alex Corretja has marked his first season in charge after replacing Albert Costa with a chance to extend Spain’s dominance with a sixth title since 2000.

“It’s been a wonderful year and now we want to go for more, of course,” Corretja said. “(Ferrer is) a guy who never gives up, he’s a gladiator and he knows the way he needs to play on clay, the way he needs to move and hit the ball.”

Isner helped too, by hitting more than twice as many unforced errors as Ferrer in the near capacity 15,000 seat venue on the Asturian coast to look nothing like the player who beat Roger Federer in Switzerland in the competition this year.

The American started well, ripping a number of his 28 forehand winners past a tentative Ferrer in winning the first set.

Isner’s momentum came undone quickly, however, as his forehand became wayward to help his opponent, who saved four of the six break points he faced, draw even.

Isner was coming apart as his serve lost pace it clocked 229 kph (143 mph) in the first set as he dug himself into a 0-40 spot in the seventh game of the third set. The 10th-ranked American hit a forehand long to be broken and, later, dropped his racket to the ground and kicked it before Ferrer took a two-sets-to-one lead.

Isner’s frustration carried into the fourth set as he threw his racket and kicked it again as Ferrer broke for 2-1.

When Ferrer hit a passing winner in the fifth set, Isner’s expression was of resignation as he netted an easy forehand to be broken again. His backhand flew wide to clinch Spain’s 26th straight victory on clay.

With USA having lost the opening singles matches, Bob and Mike Bryan, one of the greatest pairs in tennis history, had duly won the doubles rubber on Saturday, but merely delayed by a day a Spain victory regarded as inevitable.

The Spanish doubles pair was hobbled with Marcel Granollers picking up a left calf injury in the second set against the Bryans — his partner Marc Lopez had hurt his in reaching the U.S. Open semifinals a week before.

Argentina’s hopes of making the final had suffered a double blow on Saturday when Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek eased past Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in the doubles rubber to put Czech Republic up 2-1; the hosts also came to know that their top player Juan-Martin del Potro would play no further part in the match after aggravating a wrist injury which he had carried into the tie.

World Group: Semifinals:

At Gijon: Spain 3 leads USA 1 (David Ferrer bt John Isner 6-7(3), 6-43, 6-4, 6-2; Marcel Granollers & Marc Lopez lost to Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5).

At Buenos Aires: Argentina 1 trails Czech Republic 3 (Carlos Berlocq lost to Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3, 6-4; Carlos Berlocq & Eduardo Schwank lost to Tomas Berdych & Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, 6-3).

Keywords: Davis Cup final

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