Berdych and Stepanek lead Czechs in Davis Cup final

PRAGUE Tue Nov 6, 2012 6:26pm IST

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic returns the ball during his quarter-final match against Gilles Simon of France at the Paris Masters tennis tournament November 2, 2012. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic returns the ball during his quarter-final match against Gilles Simon of France at the Paris Masters tennis tournament November 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

PRAGUE (Reuters) - World number six Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek will spearhead the Czech team when they take on Davis Cup holders Spain in this month's final in Prague.

Spain will be without Rafa Nadal, who led his country to a 5-0 rout over the Czech Republic in the 2009 final when the two sides last met but has long struggled with a knee injury.

The Czech Republic are looking for their first Davis Cup title since Czechoslovakia lifted the trophy in 1980.

They are also hoping to follow up the Czech women's Fed Cup final victory last weekend to make the country the first since 1990 to sweep both team tennis titles.

Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar will back up Berdych, 27, and Stepanek, 33. The team's two best players have teamed up for the doubles match in all of the Czech ties this year.

Team captain Jaroslav Navratil stuck with the same squad that defeated Argentina in Buenos Aires in the semi-final.

"There is not a reason to change the team, it was fantastic in Argentina," he was quoted as saying by CTK news agency. "We are again close (to the title) but also still far away."

The November 16-18 final will be played on an indoor hardcourt, which Spain's coach said on Monday favoured the Czechs.

Right-handed Berdych lost his first match at the ATP World Tour Finals on Monday against world number three Andy Murray. He has a perfect record this year in the Davis Cup competition.

World number five David Ferrer will lead Spain's bid to claim their fourth Davis Cup title in five years.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet, editing by Mark Meadows)

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