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Tuesday September 18, 2012

Defending champs Spain set up repeat of 2009 championship match

PARIS: Defending champions Spain reached a sixth Davis Cup final in 10 years on Sunday with victory over the United States and will tackle the Czech Republic, who shocked Argentina in Buenos Aires, in November’s final.

The title clash will be a repeat of the 2009 championship match in which Spain routed the Czechs 5-0 on home clay in Barcelona.

But this time, Spain will travel to the Czechs who’ll have the choice of surface in the Nov 16-18 showdown.

Spain will be playing in their fourth final since 2008 after David Ferrer gave them a 3-1 victory over the US, beating John Isner 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on the clay courts of Gijon.

Czech-in: Czech Republic's (from left) Ivo Milnar, Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych celebrate after their 3-1 win over Argentina in the Davis Cup semi-final at Parque Roca in Buenos Aires on Sunday.  The Czechs will face Spain in the final. - EPA Czech-in: Czech Republic's (from left) Ivo Milnar, Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych celebrate after their 3-1 win over Argentina in the Davis Cup semi-final at Parque Roca in Buenos Aires on Sunday. The Czechs will face Spain in the final. - EPA

“This is a dream for me – another Davis Cup final,” said Ferrer. “It was unbelievable, the atmosphere supported me the whole match.”

The United States had kept the tie alive with a doubles victory by twins Bob and Mike Bryan on Saturday, but US Open semi-finalist Ferrer, on his favourite red clay, prevailed over Isner, the world No. 10.

“It’s disappointing. The Spanish team was just too good,” Isner said.

Ferrer, currently No. 1 in his country’s team in Rafael Nadal’s absence, recorded his 16th Davis Cup victory in a row on clay while Spain clinched a 24th successive home victory in the tournament, a run stretching back to 1999.

Nadal could make a return for the final if he recovers from the knee injury that kept him out of the Olympics and the US Open, but Spain captain Alex Corretja avoided speculating.

“We will monitor the players over the coming weeks, talk to all those we think appropriate, and go and see what condition they are in and then choose the players we think appropriate,” said Corretja.

“We always hope to count on everyone and obviously Rafa is the same as everyone else.”

In Buenos Aires, world No. 6 Tomas Berdych defeated Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 as the Czechs secured a 3-1 win over four-time runners-up Argentina.

Berlocq, the world No. 45, had been drafted in as replacement for eighth-ranked, former US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro who suffered a left wrist injury in his win over Radek Stepanek in Friday’s opening singles.

The Czechs’ only Davis Cup title came in 1980.

“People think it’s impossible to win in Argentina, but we had belief and proved that it is possible,” said Berdych, who beat Roger Federer on his way to the US Open semi-finals earlier this month.

In the play-offs, world No. 1 Federer beat Robin Haase 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to put Switzerland 3-1 up against Holland in Amsterdam and secure his country’s place in next year’s World Group.

In Hamburg, former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt crashed to a straight-sets defeat to youngster Cedrik-Marcel Stebe as Germany claimed a 3-2 win over Australia.

The 21-year-old Stebe, ranked 127th in the world and playing just his third Davis Cup rubber, rallied from 3-0 down in the first set to floor Hewitt 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

Australia were bidding to return to the World Group for the first time since 2007 and Hewitt’s defeat means they will be playing in the Asia-Oceania Group again in 2013, while Germany stay in the top tier.

Sweden suffered their first whitewash since 2006 as Belgium swept back into the World Group in Brussels thanks to David Goffin beating Markus Eriksson 6-3, 6-4 and Steve Darcis seeing off Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 6-2.

The rout means that in 2013, Sweden will be missing from the World Group for the first time in more than a decade.

In Tokyo, Amir Weintraub pulled off his second upset victory to give Israel a 3-2 win over Japan.

With the two teams tied at 2-2, Weintraub defeated Japan’s number two Go Soeda 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-3.

Going into the final day, with Israel on a 2-1 lead, Japan’s ace Kei Nishikori had made it 2-2 by beating Dudi Sela 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Elsewhere, Canada beat South Africa in Montreal, Kazakhstan saw off Uzbekistan in Astana, Italy defeated Chile in Naples while Brazil had already made sure of victory over Russia in Sao Jose do Rio Preto by taking a 3-0 lead overnight. — AFP

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