PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek will face the top Spanish duo in Saturday’s doubles match at the Davis Cup final, with both sides hoping to move their country one win away from the title.
Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, who became the first Spanish pair to win the doubles title at the ATP Tour Finals for 37 years on Monday, will look to end the Czechs’ momentum after Berdych leveled proceedings at 1-1 late on Friday.
The world number six’s hard-hitting five-set win over Spain’s Nicolas Almagro came in front of a raucous crowd of over 13,000 at Prague’s O2 Arena.
In the first match, David Ferrer took down Stepanek in straight sets to open Spain’s bid for its fourth Davis Cup crown in five years.
Berdych and Stepanek were expected to team up in the doubles match, which starts at 1300 GMT, despite Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil pencilling in Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar at Thursday’s draw.
The Czechs are aiming to win their first title since Czechoslovakia raised the trophy in 1980. A victory in the final would also make the Czech Republic the first country in 22 years to win men’s and women’s team titles in the same season.
Berdych and Stepanek have played doubles all season and have formed the core of the Czech team for the past five years.
They have been keen to avoid a repeat of their last clash with Spain in the final, when they were crushed 5-0 on the clay courts of Barcelona in 2009.
Berdych will take on Ferrer and Stepanek faces Almagro in the decisive singles matches on Sunday.
Reporting by Jason Hovet, Editing by Tom Pilcher