David Ferrer forces deciding rubber in Davis Cup final
By The Sports Network
|Spain's David Ferrer returns a ball to Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych during their Davis Cup tennis tournament final match in Prague November 18, 2012. REUTERS/David W Cern
Spanish star David Ferrer beat Tomas Berdych in straight sets on Sunday to force a fifth and deciding rubber in the 2012 Davis Cup final between reigning champion Spain and the host Czech Republic.
The Czechs entered Day 3 of the 100th Davis Cup final with a chance to clinch in the first reverse singles match, but the world No. 5 Ferrer flattened a flat sixth-ranked Berdych 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 to level the best-of-five tie at 2-2 on an indoor hardcourt at Prague's O2 Arena. Ferrer piled up five service breaks, compared to only one for the loser Berdych.
The former Wimbledon runner-up Berdych may have been tired after winning a long five-set singles affair on Friday and a four-set doubles encounter on Saturday.
The 5-foot-9 Ferrer, meanwhile, improved to 6-3 lifetime against the 6-foot-5 Berdych, as the two men met for the first and only time in 2012.
The gritty 30-year-old Ferrer is now 23-4 in his career Davis Cup matches, including 12-4 indoors.
"I'm very happy with my game," said Ferrer, who led the ATP World Tour with seven titles this year. "I played very focused, very aggressive. I started really good. Maybe the key was I began really good."
Berdych suffered his first Davis Cup loss of the year, having been 10-0, including 6-0 in singles. He's now 22-12 in his career Davis Cup singles bouts.
"I was always few steps behind him," Berdych said. "He was just playing too good today."
Sunday's deciding rubber in Prague currently pits world No. 11 Spaniard Nicolas Almagro against 37th-ranked Czech veteran Radek Stepanek. Almagro lost to Berdych in five sets on Friday, while Stepanek gave way to Ferrer in straight sets on Day 1 and teamed with Berdych to give the Czechs a lead here on Day 2.
The 33-year-old Stepanek will try to become the first man in 100 years over the age of 30 to win a fifth and deciding rubber in a Davis Cup final.
Spain is playing without injured superstar Rafael Nadal, who has been sidelined with knee problems since June.
The Spaniards are captained by former top-five star Alex Corretja, while the host Czechs are piloted by Jaroslav Navratil.
Five-time champion Spain has won three of the last four Davis Cup titles, including a 5-0 sweep of the Czech Republic in the '09 finale. The former Czechoslovakia captured its lone Davis Cup title in 1980, led by the legendary Ivan Lendl.
Spain is 4-2 all-time versus the Czechs, including 2-0 against the Czech Republic. The Spaniards went 2-2 against the former Czechoslovakia in a series that dates back to 1931.
The last road team to win the Davis Cup final was Spain in 2008.
Czech women captured a second straight Fed Cup title at O2 Arena two weeks ago.