Defiant Ferrer keeps Spanish hopes alive
World No 5 defeats Berdych to level the tie 2-2
World number five David Ferrer cruised to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych to put defending champions Spain level with the Czech Republic at 2-2 in the Davis Cup final on Sunday.
The Spanish victory means everything comes down to the final match of the best-of-five tie between Nicolas Almagro of Spain and Radek Stepanek of the host nation.
“The important thing is that we have got back to 2-2 and the pressure is on them now,” Ferrer told Spanish television.
Spain are bidding for a fourth Davis Cup title in five years, while the Czechs want to become the first country in 22 years to win the men's and women's team titles in the same year.
The two Czech players have played in all the matches during the weekend and are coming off a bruising four-set doubles win over the Spanish duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez on Saturday.
With one extra day of rest, Ferrer looked fresher and one step ahead of Berdych, giving the crowd of more than 13,000 at Prague's O2 Arena little to cheer. "He's played a lot of matches. But as for me, I played very focused, very aggressive and started really well and maybe (that) was the key," Ferrer said.
Ferrer, Spain's leader in place of injured former world number one Rafa Nadal, looked at ease on the fast hard court. He opened the match with an ace, while another ace stopped Berdych's momentum in the fifth game, helping Ferrer breeze to the first set.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, who is coming off a career-best year, looked in control after that as he made the tall Czech chase the ball.
Berdych showed some fight in the third set, breaking the Spaniard to level at 4-4, but Ferrer quickly steadied himself to close out the match.
Berdych and Stepanek had used a roaring home crowd to come back from a set down on Saturday, against Granollers and Lopez. The Czech pair looked tired from the gruelling opening singles matches that finished late on Friday but overcame a slow start to triumph 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 over Spain's top duo.
Granollers and Lopez, who became the first Spanish pair to win the doubles title at the ATP Tour Finals for 37 years on Monday, silenced the 14,000-strong crowd early on.
The Spanish cut short a Czech rally in a crucial seventh game that helped them cruise in the first set but the Czechs raced ahead in the second set to get the crowd going again and slowly take control. "They play a very different style... (but) we got used to it and started to play our game," Berdych told reporters.
"With Tomas coming off a four-hour match (on Friday) and coming so strong here today, it just shows the desire and hunger we have for the trophy," said Stepanek.
Results (final): 5-Czech Republic level with 1-Spain 2-2 (Radek Stepanek lt to David Ferrer 3-6, 4-6, 4-6; Tomas Berdych bt Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3; Tomas Berdych/ Radek Stepanek bt Marcel Granollers/ Marc Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3; Tomas Berdych lt to David Ferrer 2-6, 3-6, 5-7).