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Ferrer steals the show with epic victory over Stepanek

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:51

Spain’s David Ferrer produced a heroic performance to rescue the second rubber of the Davis Cup final and put the hosts into a commanding 2-0 lead against the Czech Republic after day one.

The result of the four-hour encounter, along with Rafael Nadal’s 7-5 6-0 6-2 victory over Tomas Berdych in the opening rubber, means victory in one of the remaining three rubbers secures the defence of their crown.

It looked likely to be honours even before Fernando Verdasco’s stand-in fought back from two sets down to stun Radek Stepanek and put Spain one win away from a fourth Davis Cup crown with a 1-6 2-6 6-4 6-4 8-6 victory.

The Ferrer and Stepanek had met six times before, with three wins apiece, and three of those matches going to five sets.

It was another epic in Barcelona as the Spaniard, lifted by the near 16,000 home supporters, came back to win in four hours and 17 minutes and put his side one victory from retaining the cup.

“It was maybe the most important win of my career; it’s the final of the Davis Cup,” said Ferrer. “But it all depends on if we win.”

Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez are scheduled to take on Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Halek in Saturday’s doubles, though Stepanek may be recalled in an effort to salvage the tie.

Nadal came into the final struggling for form, having lost all three of his matches at last week’s ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Berdych had his chances in the first set of the opening singles rubber but could not capitalise from 5-4, 0-30, and Nadal eventually found his feet on his favoured slow clay.

The six-time Grand Slam champion stormed through 13 games in a row as he powered to victory in two hours 28 minutes to the delight of the packed crowd at the Palau Sant Jordi.

“I was a bit nervous at the start,” said Nadal. “I played shorter than I normally do on clay.

“The first set was the key, and afterwards everything changed. I found more depth. I made fewer mistakes and I think Tomas was more tired than me.

“Personally, I think he lost his way because I was playing better from the end of the first set. With the public behind me, I was confident and I started to play the tennis I normally play on clay.”

Berdych admitted: “You have to congratulate Rafa. The way in which he played those last two sets was simply incredible.

“It’s tough to lose 13 games on the trot. I tried to find some answers to come into the net a little more but nothing really worked.”

Ferrer and Stepanek had met six times before, with three wins apiece, and three of those matches going to five sets.

It was another epic in Barcelona as the Spaniard, lifted by the near 16,000 home supporters, came back to win in four hours and 17 minutes and put his side one victory from retaining the cup.

“It was maybe the most important win of my career; it’s the final of the Davis Cup,” said Ferrer. “But it all depends on if we win.”

The reverse singles in the best-of-five tie will take place on Sunday, with Nadal against Stepanek and Ferrer taking on Berdych.

Spain captain Albert Costa said: “Tomorrow we will have the first chance and Sunday two more. We are in a good way but we must remain calm and concentrated.”

Spain are three-times winners of the Davis Cup, while the Czechs won the competition for the only time, as Czechoslovakia, in 1980.

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