PRAGUE (Reuters) - Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek put defending champions Czech Republic into the Davis Cup final by beating Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos in the doubles on Saturday.
World number five Berdych and U.S. Open doubles champion Stepanek defeated the Argentines 6-3 6-4 6-2, giving the Czechs an unassailable 3-0 lead in their semi-final and a place in their third final in five years.
They will face either Canada or Serbia on November 15-17.
The Czechs’ all-time best doubles pairing with a 13-1 record were playing together for the first time this season and, after winning their singles matches on Friday, looked more at ease than the Argentines with the faster play on the hard court at Prague’s O2 Arena, in front of more than 11,000 fans.
“It feels great; this competition means a lot to us,” Stepanek said at the courtside after the match.
“It is an honor to play in front of our home crowd, our home fans... We would like to keep that trophy because it’s beautiful.”
The Czech duo showed their experience in the first set, fighting off a break point to go up 4-3. They then broke the Argentines before serving out the set.
The second set played out similarly before the Czechs were able to break Berlocq’s serve for the second time to go up 4-3. The Argentine pair got back to 5-4 but Berdych served well and finished off the set with a smash.
Berdych, the Czechs’ top player, broke Zeballos in the third set to go up 3-2 when he fired a forehand winner from the baseline that made Berlocq step out of the way.
The Czechs never looked back and Berdych sent the team through to the final on his first match ball.
“We played a great game,” Berdych said. “Everything was in the right place today. We didn’t drop a serve. We were taking our chances.”
The Czech Republic also defeated Argentina in Buenos Aires in last year’s semi-finals on their way to lifting the Cup for the first time since Czechoslovakia won it in 1980.
The South Americans were without their top player, world number seven Juan Martin Del Potro, and their best doubles player, David Nalbandian, who underwent shoulder surgery in May.
Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Clare Fallon