PRAGUE - Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych led holders Czech Republic to a third Davis Cup final in five years after breezing past Argentina's Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos in Saturday's doubles. Stepanek and Berdych won 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and three minutes to earn an unbeatable 3-0 lead after they had dominated Friday's singles.
The Czechs, who won the 2012 trophy by beating Spain 3-2 in Prague, will travel to either Canada or Serbia for the November 15-17 final. "Its pure fantasy, the guys played at a hundred percent again," said team captain Jaroslav Navratil. "They didn't give the Argentinians a chance, they wiped them out, and we're very happy we can fight for the lovely trophy again after a year."
"We would like to keep the trophy because it's beautiful," said Stepanek. "We've been doing well and I believe we have one more step ahead of us to make things even nicer. A victory is realistic." Argentina captain Martin Jaite lavished praise on Czechs. "We played against maybe the best team at the moment in the Davis Cup," he said. "They played better than us both yesterday and today."
The Czech duo on Saturday won the 13th of their 14 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together since teaming up in 2007, while Berlocq and Zeballos played their debut doubles match together in Prague. Stepanek, the world number five in doubles rankings, got a boost from the US Open doubles title with Leander Paes a week ago. Pushed on by an emotional crowd of more than 11,000 fans around the superfast hardcourt at Prague's O2 Arena, the Czechs benefited from good serving and Stepanek's dominance at the net.
All they needed was four breaks, one apiece in the first two sets and two in the third. Berlocq was the first to lose his serve in game eight of the first set, handing the Czechs a 6-3 set win. He failed again late in the second set which the Czechs won 6-4. Each of the Argentinians then lost their serve in the last set which the Czechs took 6-2. "We played a great game. Everything was in the right place today, we didn't drop a serve," said Berdych.
On Friday, Stepanek, the world number 61 in singles and Czech number two, saw off 30th-ranked Argentinian number-one player Juan Monaco 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2 in the opening rubber. Fifth-ranked Berdych then beat world number 93 Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Canada ended the first day of their Davis Cup semi-final with Serbia level on 1-1 as Janko Tipsarevic failed to follow up Novak Djokovic's opening win. In the first rubber, it took only 100 minutes for world number one Djokovic to compellingly and confidently rout 41st-ranked Canadian Vasek Pospisil, giving Serbia an early lead.
Djokovic, who arrived in Belgrade on Wednesday after losing to Spain's Rafael Nadal in the third of four consecutive bids to win the US Open final, only allowed Pospisil a total of six games, racking up a series of 13 in a row and easily winning 6-2, 6-0, 6-4. "Playing for my country additionally inspires me and gives me an extra strength. I played extremely good and I am very happy to have brought a lead to Serbia," Djokovic told reporters after the match. But in the following rubber, Montenegro-born Canadian Milos Raonic, the world number 11, defeated the 23rd-ranked Janko Tipsarevic in a dramatic five-set match 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 10-8.