Czechs lift Davis Cup with victory over Spain
By Jason Hovet
PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic beat holders Spain 3-2 to win the Davis Cup for the first time as an independent nation when Radek Stepanek overcame Nicolas Almagro in four tough sets before a raucous home crowd on Sunday.
Stepanek, who jumped over the net and triumphantly waved his arms to acknowledge the 14,580 fans packed into the arena, was hugged by team mates before going to his wife with tears rolling down his cheeks after clinching victory in the final rubber.
His 6-4 7-6 3-6 6-3 win over Almagro meant the Czechs reclaimed the Davis Cup 32 years after Czechoslovakia won the trophy led by Ivan Lendl, who proudly watched this year's final at the 02 arena with his former team mates.
It also made the Czech Republic the first country to win the Davis Cup and Fed Cup team trophies for men and women respectively and the mixed Hopman Cup event in one year.
"I was dreaming about it my whole life and now we're standing here as Davis Cup champions, it's amazing," said Stepanek after clinching the 100th Davis Cup final.
His success delighted a home crowd that had earlier been silenced when Spain's world number five David Ferrer cruised to a 6-2 6-3 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych to level the final at 2-2 after the Czechs won a four-set doubles rubber on Saturday.
Ferrer's victory over sixth-ranked Berdych put Spain, who have dominated the event in recent seasons but were without injured former world number one Rafa Nadal, back in the hunt for a fourth Davis Cup crown in five years and sixth overall.
SIZZLING STEPANEK Continued...