Spain beats Czechs in doubles to win Davis Cup

Spain won its second straight Davis Cup on Saturday by capturing its doubles match against the Czech Republic.

Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco beat Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7), 7-5, 6-2 on clay to give the Spaniards an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five final.

Spain won its fourth title since 2000 and is the first country since Sweden in 1998 to successfully defend the trophy.

Stepanek netted a shot on match point to hand Spain the title at the same venue where it took its first title nine years ago. Lopez threw his wrist band to Crown Prince Felipe after the team bench emptied to chants of “campeones” (champions) at Palau Sant Jordi.

“We didn’t expect to win it this quickly,” captain Albert Costa said. “The key to this team has been its unity.”

Spain is the sixth most successful team in the competition’s 108-year history after the United States (32 titles), Australia (28), France and Britain (9) and Sweden (7).

Spain took advantage of Berdych’s shaky serve for three of its four breaks. Verdasco overcame early jitters to help clinch the title for the second straight year by scoring two key breaks, including in the 14th game of the second set. The ninth-ranked player won the deciding singles match in Argentina last year.

Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil selected Berdych and Stepanek — who were 5-0 in Davis Cup doubles coming into the match — despite both players losing their singles matches Friday. The original picks were Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hajek

Berdych lost to Rafael Nadal, and Stepanek blew a two-set advantage in a four-hour defeat to David Ferrer.

Spain is unbeaten on clay in 20 straight series and has not lost at home since 1999 — a run of 18 opponents. It is only the fourth team to retain its title since the format changed in 1972.

The Czechs played their third final and first since Ivan Lendl guided Czechoslovakia to victory in 1980. Only one team has recovered from an 0-2 deficit – Australia against the United States 70 years ago.

Spain improved to 4-2 against the Czechs.

The first set was decided after a long exchange between Verdasco and Berdych. Each struggled with his serve and was broken once in the first set.

The Czechs saved three set points before setting up one for themselves, which Lopez saved with a net volley. But on the deciding point, Stepanek stepped up to backhand Lopez’s volley long.

Both teams held serve until the 11th game of second set when Spain rallied from 40-0 down on Berdych’s serve to break.

Lopez clinched the two-set lead on the second set point by ripping an ace down the middle. Verdasco’s high lob then touched the far line to set up three break points in the first game of the third.

Lopez clinched it with a one-handed backhand down the near line. Verdasco then sent a crosscourt forehand out of Berdych’s reach for another break and a 4-1 lead.