Stepanek, Berdych lead Czechs back into Davis Cup play

Jan. 30, 2014 at 9:54 AM
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych lead the Czech Republic into this weekend's Davis Cup first round seeking a third consecutive championship.

Stepanek and Berdych are a combined 27-7 over the last two years in leading the Czechs to back-to-back Davis Cup titles. No country has won three consecutive Davis Cups since the United States won five times over 1968-72.

The Czechs open their title defense Friday against the Netherlands with matches in Ostrava, Czech Republic. They are to play a best-of-five series on an indoor hard court.

Stepanek, 50th in the singles rankings, is matched against world No. 46 Robin Haase in the series opener with Berdych, seventh in the rankings, later playing 62nd-ranked Igor Sijsling.

The Dutch have the doubles team of Thiemo De Bakker and Jean-Julien Rojer set to go against Czech Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely. However, Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil has often switched up and sent out Stepanek and Berdych for doubles, a ploy that has been worth five match wins the last two years.

Berdych is to go first Sunday versus Haase while Stepanek is to come back against Sijsling in the second reverse singles.

The Czechs are 4-1 all-time versus the Netherlands, with the first four series coming when the Czechs played for Czechoslovakia. The only Dutch win in the series came in 1925.

The Netherlands-Czech winner will face either Canada or Japan in the Davis Cup quarterfinals April 4-6.

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