Sport » Tennis

Updated: December 6, 2009 00:41 IST

Spain retains Davis Cup

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Spain's Feliciano Lopez (R) and Fernando Verdasco during their match against Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic in the doubles match of the Davis Cup final in Barcelona.
Spain's Feliciano Lopez (R) and Fernando Verdasco during their match against Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic in the doubles match of the Davis Cup final in Barcelona.

Spain retained the Davis Cup by winning the doubles match and taking an insurmountable 3-0 lead over the Czech Republic in the final.

Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco beat Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7), 7-5, 6-2 in the deciding match on clay at Palau Sant Jordi.

Spain, which won its fourth title since 2000, is the first country since Sweden in 1998 to defend the trophy.

Spain took advantage of Berdych’s shaky serve for three of its four breaks.

Verdasco also overcame early jitters to help clinch the title for the second straight year by scoring two key breaks, including in the 14th game of the second set. The ninth-ranked player won the deciding singles match in Argentina last year.

Stepanek sent a shot into the net on match point to hand Spain the title at the same venue where it took its first title nine years ago.

Lopez threw his wrist band to Crown Prince Felipe after the team bench emptied to chants of “Campeones!” or Champions!

“We didn’t expect to win it this quickly,” captain Albert Costa said. “The key to this team has been its unity.”

Spain is now the sixth most successful team in the competition’s 108-year history after the United States (32 titles), Australia (28), France and Britain (9) and Sweden (7).

Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil opted for Berdych and Stepanek - who were 5-0 in Davis Cup doubles coming into the match - instead of original picks Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hajek despite both players losing their singles matches on Friday.

Berdych lost to Rafael Nadal while Stepanek blew a two-set advantage in a gruelling 4-hour defeat to David Ferrer.

Spain’s mastery on clay continued as it stretched its unbeaten run on the red surface to 20 ties. The Spaniards are unbeaten at home since 1999 - a run of 18 opponents. It is only the fourth team to defend its title since the format changed in 1972.

The first set was decided after a lengthy exchange between Verdasco and Berdych, who struggled with their serves and were each broken once in the first set.

The Czechs saved three set points before setting up one for themselves, which Lopez saved with a net volley. But on the deciding point, Stepanek stepped up to backhand Lopez’s volley long.

Both teams held serve until the 11th game of second set when Spain rallied from 40-0 down on Berdych’s serve to score the only break of the frame.

Lopez clinched the two-set lead on the second set point by ripping an ace down the middle.

Verdasco’s high lob then touched the far line to set up three break points in the first game of the third, and Lopez clinched it with a one-handed backhand down the near line.

Verdasco then sent a crosscourt forehand out of Berdych’s reach for another break and a 4-1 lead.

The Czechs played its third final and first since Ivan Lendl guided Czechoslovakia to victory in 1980. Only one team had ever recovered from a 0-2 deficit before, with Australia rallying against the United States 70 years ago. Spain improved to 4-2 against the Czechs.

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