DAVIS CUP FINAL 2013
Stepanek Leads Czech Republic To Victory
by ATP Staff|
SERBIA 2 CZECH REPUBLIC 3
Hard - Indoor, Belgrade Arena, Belgrade, Serbia
Radek Stepanek is the Czech Republic hero for the second year in a row. He defeated Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 in a deciding fifth rubber on Sunday in Belgrade to retain the Davis Cup title for his nation.
"I don't think words can describe it," said Stepanek. "To defend this trophy means the world for us and our country. We waited 32 years for the second title and now we are one of five countries that have been able to defend the title.
"We played in Serbia, on their surface, in front of their fantastic crowd. We made history today. I felt great on the court here since Friday and I just proved it. I've been Top 10 singles, Top 10 doubles, I've won two Grand Slams, and played the Masters in singles and doubles, but winning the Davis Cup tops it all."
Last year, Stepanek also held his nerve against Nicolas Almagro in the fifth rubber to lift the Czechs to a 3-2 win over Spain in the final of the ITF men’s team competition. The Czech Republic has now won the Davis Cup crown three times, having also triumphed in 1980.
"It's a dream," declared stand-in captain Vladimir Safarik. "The first thing I have to say, is it's a privilege to be on this team. Having Tomas and Radek on the team is something special. I'm really proud of my team, it's really amazing what they achieved. Radek is a real professional."
World No. 117 Lajovic looked briefly as though he may be able to bridge the gap in experience between himself and the 34-year-old Stepanek, but the Czech was quick to dominate. After losing his opening service game, he reeled off four games in a row before clinching the opener. From 5-3 in the first set, Stepanek won 13 of the last 15 games, clinching victory in one hour and 52 minutes.
World No. 44 Stepanek has a 14-12 Davis Cup singles record. He was beaten by Novak Djokovic in Friday’s opening rubber, but teamed with Tomas Berdych on Saturday for a crucial straight-sets win in the doubles rubber, which gave the visiting nation a 2-1 lead going into the final day.
World No. 2 Djokovic had drawn Serbia level in the tie after beating Berdych 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-2 in the first of Sunday’s reverse singles. Djokovic improved to a 15-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Berdych after winning his 24th match in a row. The 26 year old has not lost since finishing runner-up at the US Open in September (l. to Nadal). Serbia was attempting to reclaim the Davis Cup crown it won in 2010 (d. France).