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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spain and Czechs through to final

Spain will host the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final in December after both countries won their semi-finals.

Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez beat Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 7-6 6-7 6-4 6-2 to put Cup holders Spain 3-0 up against Israel in the best-of-five tie.

Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych sealed the Czech Republic's win over Croatia with a 6-1 6-3 6-4 victory over Marin Cilic and Lovro Zovko on Saturday.

And Roger Federer helped Switzerland beat Italy in the World Group play-off.

Stepanek and Berdych's triumph came on the back of singles victories for the pair on Friday when the Czech Republic opened up a 2-0 first-day lead in the semi-final, despite Ivo Karlovic firing a record 78 aces.

Karlovic broke his previous ATP record, but still lost in a gruelling five-set match to Stepanek.

In the second singles rubber, Berdych beat Cilic in four sets.

Earlier, champions Spain had secured a 2-0 lead over Israel thanks to convincing singles wins by Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer.

Ferrero thumped Dudi Sela 6-4 6-2 6-0 after Ferrer thrashed Harel Levy.

Spain went into their semi-final without injured top-10 pair Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco but that mattered little with Ferrer and Ferrero both impressing.

"It certainly wasn't as comfortable a win as it might have looked," said Ferrer, a 6-1 6-4 6-3 winner.

While Spain eased to a 2-0 lead, the Czech Republic only opened up their lead after a marathon day's play.

In total, Stepanek and Karlovic played out 81 games before the first break of serve at 14-14 in the decider.

During that time, Karlovic had sent down 78 aces, 23 more than his previous record in losing in this year's French Open first round to Lleyton Hewitt.

"I did my best, but Stepanek was there all the way," Karlovic said.m "After the loss, the serve record means little."

After sealing the decisive break and serving out for a match that lasted just six minutes shy of six hours, Stepanek said: "Everything is known about Karlovic. He really has a phenomenal serve."

In the second rubber, Cilic - who beat Andy Murray in the US Open - went down 6-3 6-3 3-6 4-6 6-3 to world number 18 Berdych.

Meanwhile, Federer helped Switzerland to a 3-2 win over Italy in Genoa to ensure World Group status for another year.

Federer had only just flown back to Europe following his five-set defeat by Juan Martin Del Potro in Monday's US Open final, but beat Simone Bolelli on Friday and then secured the decisive third point with a 6-3 6-0 6-4 win over Potito Starace on Sunday.

"It was a tough weekend for us and I'm happy I could help Switzerland win," said Federer. "I was able to play very well.

"I have to go on holiday badly. I have a problem with my leg, I have a problem with my arm - everything is hurting."

Other World Group play-off winners were Belgium, Chile, Ecuador, France, India, Serbia and Sweden.

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