Berdych steers Czechs into final against Spain
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - World number six Tomas Berdych completed a clean sweep of wins against Argentina to lead Czech Republic into the Davis Cup final against holders Spain on Sunday.
Berdych, having won his opening singles on Friday and the doubles with Radek Stepanek on Saturday, gave the Czechs an unassailable 3-1 lead in their semi-final at Parque Roca with a 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory over Carlos Berlocq.
Spain beat the United States in their semi-final in Gijon.
"I'm feeling pretty happy, Argentina's 14-year winning streak at home is a long time and we're the ones that ended it," Berdych told reporters.
"There are not many better feelings than this, to win three points in three days and the more so in this place.
"For me, this is the highest I could get in my career and I'm really looking forward to (the final), we'll give our all and it will be good to do that at home," Berdych said.
The Czechs, who lost the 2009 final to Spain in Barcelona, will be at home this time. They have won the trophy once as Czechoslovakia in 1980.
Berdych said neither side were favourites.
"It's open, it will be very important whether (Spain's Rafa) Nadal plays and is fully fit and what will be the makeup of the Spanish team.
"It will be crucial playing in the Czech Republic where we can choose the surface," he added.
DEL POTRO PULL-OUT
Argentina's chances of reaching a second consecutive final had diminished on Saturday when world number eight Juan Martin del Potro pulled out of Sunday's first reverse singles against Berdych.
Del Potro, who had surgery in 2010 on his right wrist, aggravated a problem in his left wrist for which his doctor had recommended a fortnight's rest after last week's U.S. Open.
The 2009 U.S. Open champion had won the first point when he beat Stepanek in Friday's opening singles before Berdych fought back from 2-1 down to beat Juan Monaco in five sets.
Berdych was never really in danger against the 45th-ranked Berlocq, who had been picked for his maiden Davis Cup tie at 29 as Eduardo Schwank's doubles partner in the absence of the injured David Nalbandian.
Berdych seemed to have a extra gear in reserve that he could call on if Berlocq managed to turn up the heat, the gear he resorted to when he was 2-1 and 4-1 down in the fourth set to Monaco on Friday.
Berlocq, comfortable on clay, fed on the rowdy home crowd support to trouble Berdych with timely attacks at the net but was more often on the defensive, fully stretched in long rallies in which the Czech moved him from corner to corner.
He prolonged the match in the third set by breaking Berdych in the seventh game but that signalled the end of his brave resistance.
"I know Carlos wants to fight to the last point and was trying to do that but I still believed I was the better player," Berdych said.
"It was kind of the same with Juan Monaco on the first day when he got on top and had the crowd with him and I was able to finish the way I did and that's the difference."
Monaco faced Ivo Minar in the dead rubber. (Reporting by Rex Gowar, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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