The Czech Republic becomes the first nation ever to simultaneously hold the Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup

Radek Stepanek won a pulsating fifth rubber to steer the Czech Republic to claim the Davis Cup for the first time as an independent nation by beating defending champions Spain 3-2, in the 100th year of the competition.

The Czech on Sunday created his own little piece of history by becoming the first 30-plus player to win a fifth live rubber in 100 years by overpowering world number 11 Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 7-6 (7-0), 3-6, 6-3.

As a result, the Czech Republic became the first nation to simultaneously hold the Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup.

The Czechs won the Davis Cup as part of Czechoslovakia 30 years ago when Ival Lendl and Tomas Smid did exactly what Berdych and Stepanek did spending the entire three days on the court to play both the singles and doubles to beat Italy 4-1 in the 1980 final.

“They’ve been our inspiration, our idols. They’re the legends and now we’re joining them,” Stepanek said pointing the former greats who were present in the arena.

Ranked 37 in the world, Stepanek at 33 years was an underdog against Almagro, six years younger to him. But the Czech veteran was boosted by a fast hard court that suited his aggressive style of play and the backing of a boisterous 13,000 spectators inside Prague’s O2 Arena.

“I was dreaming about this moment my whole life and now we’re standing here as Davis Cup champions, it’s amazing,” said an emotional Stepanek who went into a war dance vaulting the net and tearing off his t-shirt after the win. Berdych added, “This is a moment we’ll never forget.”

Stepanek was on course, taking the first set with one break. He was far more convincing in the second, though he let slip four set points before racing through the tie-break like a man possessed.

After losing the third set, Stepanek dug deep into his resources and kept his nerve remarkably to hold on to the advantage and convert his second match point as the match passed went past the three-hour mark.

World number five Ferrer, who has had the best year of his career, packed too much for Berdych, winning in a little under two-and-a-half hours to bring the reigning champions level.

The Czechs beat Italy, Serbia and Argentina en route to the final. Spain, without Rafael Nadal, had been looking for its sixth title.IANS

The 100th davis cup final

Czech republic beat Spain 3-2

R. Stepanek lost to D. Ferrer 3-6 4-6 4-6

T. Berdych beat N. Almagro 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3

T. Berdych and R. Stepanek beat

M. Granollers and M. Lopez 3-6 7-5 7-5 6-3

T. Berdych lost to D. Ferrer 2-6 3-6 5-7

R. Stepanek beat N. Almagro 6-4 7-6(0) 3-6 6-3