Czechs led by Štěpánek achieve historic success by retaining Davis Cup

Tomáš Berdych, Radek Štěpánek, Vladimír Šafařík, Lukáš Rosol, Jan Hájek, photo: CTK

In Sports News this Monday: Czech Republic achieve historic success by winning tennis’s Davis Cup for the second year in row; hero Štěpánek describes sharing moment with his family and explains what has driven him to succeed in competition, while doubles partner Berdych pays tribute to top pair’s teammates.

Tomáš Berdych,  Radek Štěpánek,  Vladimír Šafařík,  Lukáš Rosol,  Jan Hájek,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic’s tennis team achieved an historic success by retaining the Davis Cup with a win over Serbia in Belgrade at the weekend. The final came down to the last singles rubber and it was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man as – in front of around a thousand boisterous travelling Czech fans – Radek Štěpánek beat Dusan Lojovic by a comfortable 6-3 6-1 6-1 to help his compatriots lift the title again.

Štěpánek had been the hero who delivered the winning point in Prague 12 months ago, and he became the first player since Fred Perry in the 1930s to win the decisive fifth match in a Davis Cup final twice. The 34-year-old was emotional as he spoke shortly after Sunday’s triumph.

Radek Štěpánek,  photo: CTK
“I really appreciate such moments, because they’re the reason that you work hard and train your whole life. To see my parents twice during such a moment and to hug them… what was going through my mind was everything they had to do so that I could play tennis at such a level. Those are the kind of indescribable moments that you live for.”

Štěpánek had for some time refused to play for the national team but returned six years ago. He attributes the Czech Republic’s current dominance to a strong desire to win.

“We wanted to take the ‘Salad Bowl’. In 2007 when I came back to the team, Tomáš [Berdych] and I said we’d do our utmost to achieve that. Last year we succeeded. That was incredible, but to defend the title is unprecedented, historic. What we’ve achieved is down to our will. We put our heart into every match.”

The Czech Republic’s achievements owe a lot to the brilliant partnership between Štěpánek and Tomáš Berdych, who have won 14 of the 15 doubles matches they have played in the Davis Cup. The two were the only Czech players to appear in the final, but Berdych says the momentous title defence also owes something to their teammates Lukáš Rosol and Jan Hajek.

Tomáš Berdych,  photo: CTK
“At the start of this Davis Cup year, Radek wasn’t available and later I wasn’t available. So this year we’ve all been involved more or less. It’s the longest competition and runs all year and the Serbs were unlucky all their team weren’t fit for the final. All of us were probably thoroughly exhausted after the season, but we managed it far better than they did.”

Prior to their recent success, the Czech Republic – or in those days Czechoslovakia – had only taken the Davis Cup once, in 1980. Some could point to their rivals losing key players to injury in 2012 and this year. But regardless, two titles in two years has to make this some kind of golden period.