Czech Republic target rare double
It is 22 years since a country has won the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup in the same season but the feat is on for the Czechs after their women's team beat Serbia at the same Prague venue two weeks ago. The hosts are hoping a vociferous home crowd and a fast hardcourt surface will combine to give them the edge against a Spanish team aiming to lift the Davis Cup for the fourth time in five years.
Spain are without injured former world number one Rafael Nadal and will be delighted if they can repeat their 5-0 drubbing of the Czechs in the final on the claycourts of Barcelona three years ago.
“Barcelona was a great experience that we can learn from and maybe we can use that experience in front of our home crowd,” Czech player Radek Stepanek told reporters.
“For us the most important thing is to have three points come Sunday. That is why we are here ... that is what we are focusing on.”
The Czechs, who have only lifted the Davis Cup once before in 1980, face an uphill task.
Spain's challenge will be led by world number five David Ferrer, 30, who has enjoyed the best year of his career.
“The court will be better for the Czechs than us but it is the final of the Davis Cup so I'm sure it is going to be very close,” said Ferrer who is accompanied in the team by Nicolas Almagro, Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez. Granollers and Lopez became the first Spanish pair to win the doubles title at the ATP Tour Finals for 37 years when they lifted the trophy in London.
World number six Tomas Berdych spearheads a Czech side that also contains Stepanek, Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar. Berdych lost in the ATP Tour Finals to eventual winner Novak Djokovic and the world number one shared the sentiments of Ferrer.
Ferrer against Stepanek
Meanwhile, Ferrer will kick-start Spain’s campaign against Stepanek. The Czech team's top player, Berdych, will then take on Almagro in the second of the opening day's matches.
Granollers and Lopez will lead Spain in Saturday's doubles match. Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil has slated Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar for the doubles but will likely turn to Berdych and Stepanek instead.