x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Tearful Stepanek writes history for Czech Republic after Davis Cup win

Czech veteran Radek Stepanek paid tribute to the inspirational 1980 Czechoslovakia team as he guided the Czech Republic to its first global crown since independence in 1993.

Radek Stepanek collapses with emotion after winning the Davis Cup for the Czech Republic
Radek Stepanek collapses with emotion after winning the Davis Cup for the Czech Republic

Radek Stepanek admitted guiding the Czech Republic to a historic Davis Cup victory over Spain was a dream come true.

The veteran, ranked 37th in the world, beat Nicolas Almagro to secure the decisive rubber and hand the Czechs their first global crown as an independent nation since the former Czechoslovakia split in 1993.

It also made the Czech Republic the first country to win the Davis Cup and Fed Cup team trophies for men and women respectively and the mixed Hopman Cup event in one year.

"I was dreaming about it my whole life and now we're standing here as Davis Cup champions, it's amazing," said Stepanek, ranked 37 in the world, after clinching the 100th Davis Cup final.

"We've written history today in our country. I can't describe what I'm feeling right now."

Stepanek admitted the weekend was particularly special due to the fact the 1980 Davis Cup-winning Czechoslovakia team - including Ivan Lendl - were cheering them on.

"For us it's amazing, they've been our inspiration and our idols. They are legends, and now we are joining them," he added.

His teammate Tomas Berdych, who lost in straight sets to David Ferrer, was equally delighted.

"There are no words to say," he said. "Undescribable. This is the best thing that can be."

33-year-old Stepanek was left in tears after beating Almagro, ranked 26 places higher than him, 6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 in a near four-hour encounter in Prague.

"I came on the court with the mindset that I had to stay calm, hungry, motivated and concentrate," he said afterwards.

"I was playing very aggressively today. I wanted to be the one who was active, who was controlling the game and it paid off."

His opponent said Spain could leave with their heads held high after taking the Czechs down to the wire.

"These are very tough moments," Almagro said. "But we can't be down on ourselves in any way as we fought to the last moment.

"We are runners-up in the Davis Cup, not what we wanted as we came here to win the title but we are leaving with our heads held high knowing that we did a good job."

Ferrer summed up the mood in the Spanish team, despite his own victory over Berdych, afterwards.

"We're sad at the moment. The Czechs were better than us."


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