Davis Cup: Czech Republic vs Spain

I watched the final two tennis matches of the Davis Cup on the Tennis Channel today. I was sort of rooting for the Czech Republic, because Spain won it last time. But for me it actually comes down to which player’s game I like more.

Since Nadal is still injured, the big guns in this match were world #5 Spaniard David Ferrer and world #6 Czech Tomas Berdych. Behind them were world #11 Nicolas Almagro and world #31 Radek Stepanek. The fast indoor carpet favored the host Czech team, but Ferrer is dangerous on any surface. In the first match, Ferrer beat Stepanek in straight sets, while Berdych needed five sets to beat Almagro, and presumably shook his hand afterwards.

In the doubles, Berdych and Stepanek teamed to beat the Spanish team of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in four sets. Doubles doesn’t require as much running, but does require a lot of lunging. The Czechs didn’t get as much rest for the final day of singles as the Spaniards.

I like David Ferrer because he always plays his heart out. Tomas Berdych has all the tools but is more likely to lose heart. He didn’t lose heart today because it was never that close. Even on the fast court, Berdych couldn’t force quick points on his speedy opponent. Ferrer made the Czech play a lot of balls and controlled the match, winning 6-2, 6-3, 7-5. I went running after the first two sets, and after my shower the next match had just started.

So either Stepanek and Almagro would lose two single matches for their team. Almagro was ranked a lot higher, and is only 27, but he’s an offensive baseliner that is better on clay and hard court. 34 year-old Stepanek was originally something of a doubles specialist, but has greatly improved his singles in his later career. For a doubles player, attacking on a fast surface is second nature. Oddly, Almagro the baseliner owns a beautiful one-handed backhand while Stepanek the attacking player hits the two-hander. Almagro also owns the bigger serve.

At first both players seemed to be in trouble on serve, but Stepanek held on and broke at 5-4 to take the first set. He recovered from a break in the second to get into and win a tiebreak at love. Almagro served well and seemed to be in control in the third set, but Stepanek got the early break and took the fourth. The final score 6-4, 7-6(0), 3-6, 6-3.

TV photographers kept showing two pretty blonde women during the match. Even besides his 2007 engagement to Martina Hingis, Radek had a rep for dating WTA players. One of the blondes was the retired female player Nicole Vaidisova, who is now Stepanek’s wife.

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