Spain, Czechs set up Davis Cup final clash in Nov
David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych duly won their singles with little fuss and lined up Spain and the Czech Republic for the Davis Cup final in November.
The No. 5-ranked Ferrer and No. 7 Berdych ensured their teams secured 3-1 semifinal victories with a match to spare. Spain won a 24th straight home tie since 2000 in beating the United States in Gijon, and the Czechs handed Argentina in Buenos Aires its first home loss on clay since 1998.
The Czechs will host their first cup final since 1980, when they won their only cup as the former Czechoslovakia. It's set for Nov. 16-18.
''This is going to be the highlight of my career up until now,'' Berdych said. ''It is going to be very difficult playing against Spain, the champion, but at least we are lucky to be playing at home.''
Spain, the team of the century so far, will be bidding for its fourth title in five years, among them a 5-0 sweep of the Czechs in the 2009 final in Barcelona.
Ferrer beat John Isner 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, his speed and defense inducing 70 unforced errors from Isner, who took out his frustration by slamming and kicking his racket. Ferrer has won all 16 of his cup singles on clay.
''(Ferrer's) a guy who never gives up, he's a gladiator and he knows the way he needs to play on clay, the way he needs to move and hit the ball,'' Spain captain Alex Corretja said. ''It's been a wonderful year and now we want to go for more, of course.''
Ferrer, in the absence of the unavailable Rafael Nadal, will have a chance to lead Spain to a fourth Davis Cup title in his career.
''This is the competition in which I have felt the most emotions in. I'm a team player,'' he said. ''I don't know how much longer my career will last so I want to do my best possible in the Davis Cup. Alex Corretja motivated me to play this season.''
In Buenos Aires, Berdych accounted for cup debutant Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. It's the sixth time in the cup that Berdych has played three matches in a tie and the third time he's won all three. He also did it against Serbia in the quarterfinals in April.
''To win three points in three days - especially in this place - I just feel great,'' Berdych said.
Berdych's achievement was made easier when Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro aggravated his left wrist injury in winning his Friday singles and had to withdraw before his scheduled match with Berdych.
Meanwhile, in the playoffs to make next year's World Group, Germany came from 2-1 down to beat Australia 3-2 in Hamburg and keep the Aussies in zonal play for a sixth straight year.
Brazil earned promotion after nine years away by beating Russia, which was demoted for the first time in 19 years. Brazil avenged its loss to Russia, the 2002 and 2006 champion, in the same stage a year ago.
Japan's first appearance in the World Group after 26 years was brief after Israel won 3-2 in Tokyo, and the Roger Federer-led Switzerland was the only other team aside from Israel to win away, beating the Netherlands 3-2 in Amsterdam.
Sweden will lose its record of most World Group appearances (31) to the U.S. and Czech Republic after being swept by Belgium, Italy beat Chile 4-1 to stay up, Canada defeated South Africa, and Kazakhstan topped Uzbekistan 3-1.