Davis Cup: Czech Republic beat Spain 3-2 in Prague final
Last Updated: 18/11/12 10:38pm
The Czech Republic landed the 100th Davis Cup after Radek Stepanek beat Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the deciding rubber.
Roared on by his home crowd in the 02 Arena in Prague, the inspired Stepanek completed a 6-4 7-6 (7-0) 3-6 6-3 victory to give the Czechs a 3-2 win in the final and deny Spain a fourth Davis Cup triumph in five years.
After David Ferrer had kept Spain's hopes alive by beating Tomas Berdych to level the contest at 2-2, it left world No 37 Stepanek needing to beat 11th-ranked Almagro to give the hosts victory.
And, despite the gap in the rankings, Stepanek came up with the goods.
Stepanek pinched the first set 6-4 and, after Almagro had saved four set points in the second, the 33-year-old from Karvina blitzed the tie-break 7-0 to take a 2-0 lead.
Stepanek immediately had three break points at the start of the third as he moved in for the kill, but Almagro saved them and went on to take the set 6-3 after breaking in game six.
But it proved only a stay of execution for the 27-year-old Spaniard from Murcia as Stepanek came on strong again in the fourth.
Almagro dug deep to save a match point on his own serve in game eight but Stepanek held his serve in the next to spark wild celebrations amongst the 14,000 crowd.
It gave the Czech Republic their first Davis Cup win since they became an independent nation after splitting with Slovakia in 1993. Czechoslovakia won the Davis Cup in 1980 when they had Ivan Lendl in their ranks.