Czechs close in on team finals slot

May 23, 2007 at 3:24 PM

DUSSELDORF, Germany, May 23 (UPI) -- Victories Wednesday by Tomas Berdych and Jan Hajek put the Czech Republic on the verge of reaching the finals at the ATP World Team Championship in Germany.

Berdych ran over Belgium's Olivier Rochus, 6-3, 6-0, and Hajek topped Kristof Vliegen, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, Wednesday. The victories made the doubles match, won by the Belgians, meaningless.

The decision gave the Czech Republic a 2-0 record in Blue Group round-robin play, with the Czechs needing only a victory over Germany Friday to reach the title match. Belgium (0-2) cannot advance even if the team beats Spain in its final round-robin match.

Spain improved to 1-1 by beating Germany, which is also 1-1.

David Ferrer put the Spaniards ahead with a 6-3, 7-5, win over Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Nicolas Almagro clinched the point with a 6-4, 6-4, win over Florian Mayer. Germany did take the doubles match.

The Blue Group winner meets the Red Group champion Saturday in a best-of-three final.

Chile leads the Red Group with a 2-0 record and can seal a finals berth with a win Thursday over Argentina (1-1). The United States (1-1) and Sweden (0-2) play in the other round-robin match.

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