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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Sports

Czechs stun Spain

The Czech Republic won the Davis Cup after a team led by Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beat holders Spain 3-2 in the 100th final here on Sunday.

In Sunday's games, Berdych lost to David Ferrer before Stepanek stunned Nicolas Almagro in the decisive rubber.

The Czech Republic lifted their first Davis Cup since gaining independence following a 1993 split with Slovakia.

The victory has handed the Czechs a rare team double after their women lifted the Fed Cup here two weeks ago -- a feat last achieved by the United States in 1990.

The former Czechoslovakia won the trophy in 1980 with a team led by then 20-year-old Ivan Lendl, who received the Davis Cup Award of Excellence before Sunday's rubbers.

As if inspired by Lendl, Stepanek, the world number 37, beat 11th-ranked Almagro 6-4, 7-6 (7/0), 3-6, 6-3 on the super-fast hardcourt of Prague's O2 Arena in front of a frantic crowd of more than 14,000 fans.

The wild home crowd was all that Stepanek needed on Sunday to shake off the fatigue from Friday's singles and Saturday's doubles.

Combining patience with aggression and pulling off a series of winning volleys, Stepanek took the first two sets, the second in an impressive 7-0 tiebreak.

Almagro, 27, fought back in the third set, but Stepanek, red hot and propelled by the crowd, finished the job in just under four hours.

In Sunday's first match, Ferrer, the world number five, beat sixth-ranked Berdych in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.

The 27-year-old Berdych never quite caught up with his 30-year-old rival and admitted he was "way behind" throughout the rubber.

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