Spain to play Czechs in Davis Cup final

The triumphant Spanish team celebrate their doubles victory in the semifinal.
Defending champions Spain will face the Czech Republic in this year’s Davis Cup final after they claimed an unassailable 3-0 lead over Israel in their semifinal on Saturday.

The Czechs sealed their passage by also going 3-0 up against 2005 champions Croatia. Spain, who took a 2-0 lead into the pivotal doubles, paired Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez, who delivered a 7-6 6-7 6-4 6-2 win over Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram. The Israelis salvaged a measure of respectability after being whitewashed in Friday’s singles, putting up a strong showing in the doubles on the clay courts of Torre Pacheco. Robredo and Lopez edged the first set but fell a break down in the second before hitting back to force a tiebreaker. This time it was Israel who claimed a close breaker 9-7, but once the Spanish pair took the third set on a single break, victory proved a formality. Two breaks of service in the fourth wrapped it up for the home side to claim a seventh appearance in the final of the premier team competition in men’s tennis.

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On Friday, David Ferrer eased past Harel Levy 6-1 6-4 6-3 before Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Dudi Sela 6-4 6-2 6-0. They will host December’s final against the Czech Republic with former world number one Rafael Nadal set to return to the line-up after missing this weekend’s action with an abdominal strain. The Czechs reached their first final in 29 years as Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek thrashed Croatia’s Lovro Zovko and Marin Cilic 6-1 6-3 6-4 in Perec. It was a marked contrast to Friday’s marathon singles encounters which both went to five sets. Radek Stepanek beat the giant Ivo Karlovic, despite a record 78 aces by the Croat, and Berdych saw off U.S. Open quarterfinalist Marin Cilic in a near four-hour match on indoor clay. In a World Group playoff match, Switzerland’s ploy of resting Roger Federer for the doubles backfired as Italy hit back to reduce their deficit to 2-1. Simone Bolelli and Potito Starace beat Marco Chiudelli and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2 6-4 7-6, but world number one Federer can wrap up victory on Sunday if he beats Andreas Seppi in the first reverse singles.