Spain captures second straight Davis Cup

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Feliciano López and Fernando Verdasco of Spain defeated Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in doubles to defend the Davis Cup trophy for their country. This is Spain’s fourth title overall, each of which have come in the new millennium. The United States holds the record for most Davis Cup championships with 32.

Stepanek netted a shot on match point to hand Spain the title at the same venue where it took its first title nine years ago. Lopez threw his wrist band to Crown Prince Felipe after the team bench emptied to chants of “campeones” (champions) at Palau Sant Jordi.

“We didn’t expect to win it this quickly,” captain Albert Costa said. “The key to this team has been its unity.”

Spain took advantage of Berdych’s shaky serve for three of its four breaks. Verdasco overcame early jitters to help clinch the title for the second straight year by scoring two key breaks, including in the 14th game of the second set. The ninth-ranked player won the deciding singles match in Argentina last year.

Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil selected Berdych and Stepanek — who were 5-0 in Davis Cup doubles coming into the match — despite both players losing their singles matches Friday. The original picks were Lukas Dlouhyand Jan Hajek

Berdych lost to Rafael Nadal, and Stepanek blew a two-set advantage in a four-hour defeat to David Ferrer.

Spain is unbeaten on clay in 20 straight series and has not lost at home since 1999 — a run of 18 opponents. It is only the fourth team to retain its title since the format changed in 1972.

It feels like ages ago since we heard something positive about Rafael Nadal. His performance in this tournament was essential to Spain’s success and I hope this experience boosts his confidence. Nadal is in his prime and still the most exciting player to watch in all of tennis. I’m ready to see some more showdowns between him and Federer.

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The world of tennis is in disarray

Del Potro

This last U.S. Open was both entertaining and dramatic. Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin del Potro, both underdogs, captured the Grand Slam championship in their respective competitions. Getting the most press, however, was Serena Williams’ tirade against a lineswoman. (Serena was later fined $10,000.) Tennis had been fairly stable the past few years in terms of competition, top players, and sportsmanship. As of the U.S. Open, however, that sentiment is changing:

– Roger Federer, of all people, was docked $1,500 for using profanity while arguing with the chair umpire open during the men’s final. Was the expletive in Swiss-German?

– Led by Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych, the Czech Republic have reached their first Davis Cup final in 29 years after beating Marin Cilic and Lovro Zovko of Croatia in doubles.

Spain also advanced into the Davis Cup finals, only without the services of Rafael Nadal. Spain owes a big thank you to Feliciano Lopez and Tommy Robredo. To his credit, Nadal is still suffering from abdominal pain.

– Can you believe Juan Martin del Potro is only the seventh male not named Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to win a Grand Slam in the last seven years? Crazy. The others were Andre Agassi, Gaston Gaudio, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Marat Safin, Andy Roddick, and Novak Djokovic. In breaking it down that means, between those 28 Grand Slams, only nine champions have been crowned.

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