Tennis

Czechs reach Davis Cup final

Tomas Berdych helped the Czech Republic gain a 2-0 lead over Argentina.
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PRAGUE (AP)

Defending champion Czech Republic reached the Davis Cup final after winning its doubles match Saturday to eliminate Argentina.

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Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek defeated Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to give the Czechs an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinal. They will play for the title in November against Serbia or Canada.

"We would like to keep the trophy because it's beautiful," Stepanek said. "This competition means a lot to us."

Berdych and Stepanek improved their Davis Cup doubles record to 13-1. Berdych converted the first match point with a service winner to send the Czechs to a third final in five years in front of more than 11,000 fans at O2 Arena.

"It's an honor for us to play in such an atmosphere," Stepanek, who was jumping on the court with other members of the squad, told the crowd. "You're fantastic."

The Czechs never lost serve, saving two Argentine break opportunities to clinch their eighth straight cup victory.

Days after his second Grand Slam doubles title at the U.S. Open, Stepanek dominated at the net with his volleys while Berdych delivered with his powerful serve. It was a combination the Argentines could not counter in their Davis Cup doubles debut.

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"Everything was on the right place, today," Berdych said. "We didn't drop serve, and then we were taking our chances."

Added Zeballos: "Berdych has an unbelievable serve and really good return, and Stepanek has a lot of confidence right now."

On Friday, Stepanek swept Juan Monaco 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2 and Berdych beat Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Argentina was without star Juan Martin Del Potro, who skipped Davis Cup this year. Still, Argentina reached the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year.

"It was a really good year for our country," Zeballos said.

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