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16 November 2012

Ferrer's brilliance hands Spain first point of Final


Photo: Paul ZimmerDavid Ferrer (ESP)

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC: David Ferrer has done what he was expected to do as the team No. 1 and defeated Radek Stepanek 63 64 64 in the opening rubber of the 100th Davis Cup Final, meaning Czech No. 1 Tomas Berdych must produce his very best to keep Czech Republic alive at the end of the opening day.

Ferrer quickly fought off a shaky start to keep on top of his opponent, relying on his sensational forehand, double of which he produced compared to Stepanek.

Berdych now meets Nicolas Almagro in the second rubber in a 12th meeting between the two, a head to head which Berdych leads 8-3.


Stepanek 4-6 Ferrer*
At 30-15 the Spanish are already prowling round out of their seats ready to congratulate Ferrer - Almagro included - and they are right to do so. As he sets up match point, the bench rouse the fans behind them. A backhand strays out to ruin the moment and take the game to deuce but on his second chance the noise goes wild and even wilder when Stepanek sends a backhand volley into the net. That's it. Ferrer retains his sensational performance on indoor hard court and as predicted, takes the opening rubber of the final.

Stepanek* 4-5 Ferrer
Spoke too soon, Stepanek's hanging in and holds serve.

Stepanek 3-5 Ferrer*
Not exactly a clean service game from Ferrer, in fact he uses this time to throw down his second double fault of the whole match. Radek steps it up a gear to earn a break point . Ferrer remains stuck in through some long baseline rallies, but then what happens?.......on Stepanek's second break point opportunity, Ferrer serves his third double fault of the match. Tight.

Stepanek* 2-5 Ferrer
Stepanek's got a problem with the balls before the game even gets going, offloading them back to umpire Jake Garner. He gets booed and whistled by the Spanish fans, Alex Corretja tries to calm them down while the Spanish bench keep behind their man amid the disturbance. Ferrer remains oblivious and goes on to break Stepanek to 15. He will serve for the match.

Stepanek 2-4 Ferrer*
Ferrer challenges a serve at break point down, 40-A, and wins it saving an opportunity for the Czechs to equalise in this third set. He wins the next two points and thus the game, at the same time forcing Stepanek to fall uncomfortably onto his knees.

Stepanek* 2-3 Ferrer
A neat volley ensures Radek holds serve as we reach what most are obviously predicting to be the business end of this match.  What we have next is another encounter with a lot of history when Berdych and Almagro step forward. Fortunately for them, the Czechs are favourites for that one.

Stepanek 1-3 Ferrer*
The crowd's somewhat thinning with this Spanish tour de force as Ferrer holds again. All eyes are on the Spaniard while Stepanek has slightly paled into insignificance. Briefly.

Stepanek* 1-2 Ferrer
Radek hangs in there, chasing down Ferrer's lead to deuce. He seals with a crosscourt forehand volley which has Ferrer almost crashing into the Czech bench with the reach. It's the Czech's first game in six.

Stepanek 0-2 Ferrer*
A love game for Ferrer as he races to a 2-0 lead in a matter of a few minutes. Almagro left the court ages ago and now Feliciano and Granollers/Lopez have joined him.

Stepanek* 0-1 Ferrer
It's a tough ask for Stepanek to come back from 0-2 down. He's already looking knackered and not sure any amount of home support can turn this match around or dim the lights on Ferrer. Spain break again in the opening game.


Stepanek 4-6 Ferrer*
Ferrer takes 30-0 lead but Stepanek hangs in there to take it to deuce with a far more steady groundstroke game than we've seen previously. Stepanek earns a break back point which he loses and when Spain then earn game and set point, there's a dispute about the line call. Ferrer serves for the set, Stepanek sends it long and it's a two-sets lead for Spain after 2 hours 7 minutes of play.

Stepanek* 4-5 Ferrer
It's Stepanek 'The Wall', not Ferrer 'The Wall' this time. The guy is covering the net like nobody's business - like he has a choice though, Ferrer is doing his best to fly those forehands past Stepanek...the Spanish team are pumping him up from the other end of the court letting him know they're behind their man. It works. He takes the last two points from deuce, finishing with yet another forehand that zips past Stepanek. Now he will serve for the second set.

Stepanek 4-4 Ferrer*
Bizarre start to the game as Ferrer swings but totally misses the there a hole in his racket?? Couple of games later and he serves his first double fault of the match. Is the pressure getting to him? He retains the edge, luckily, and levels the second set. 

Stepanek* 4-3 Ferrer
Finally some strategy from Stepanek as he starts to find a way to manipulate his opponent around the court. He finishes the game with a HUUUUGE serve to take the lead for the first time in a set and bounces back to his bench, who are almost spilling over onto the court.

Stepanek 3-3 Ferrer*
What a turnaround - a backhand passing shot sets up three break points for Stepanek, the crowd are chanting "RA-DEK" round the arena. He concedes one, then responds quickly to a whipping forehand from Ferrer, and Ferrer returns into the net. How quickly the atmosphere can change here! We're back on an even keel....

Stepanek* 2-3 Ferrer
Ferrer loses three break points with some not-so-disastrous errors on the back of some killer serves from Stepanek. With his home crowd behind him, he holds serve on his second opportunity, doing so with a massive sigh of relief. Phew.

Stepanek 1-3 Ferrer*
A Stepanek forehand crosscourt volley takes the game to 30-all, then Ferrer takes game point when the Czech totally mis-hits a backhand, rolling his eyes in embarrassment.

Stepanek* 1-2 Ferrer
You just can't give the Spaniard any openers. Not now. Not ever. Ferrer is showing a masterclass in return of serve and Stepanek is at a loss of how to break the wall. He holds, but he's lucky.

Stepanek 0-2 Ferrer*
Ferrer holds to 15. The Czech fans are more muted. The Spanish are relaxed in their seats.... Stepanek needs to start turning mistakes into winners.

Stepanek* 0-1 Ferrer
That opening momentum that Stepanek was showing just over an hour ago is starting to wane a little, and behind him, so is Ivan Lendl in the stands because Ferrer immediately breaks in the opening game of the second set.


Stepanek 3-6 Ferrer*
No waaaayyyy. Ferrer somehow manages to get on the end of what seems like a clear winning volley from Stepanek and it sails over the Czechs head, then drops in clean as a whistle. The fans are bowing to Ferrer while Navratil considers recommending a challenge - oh he can't, Stepanek's out of them. First set ESPANA.

Stepanek* 3-5 Ferrer
The Czech captain, Jaroslav Navratil, is wearing a shirt with CZECH REPUBLIC 1980 on the back, in a rather natty retro style. Disco fever. He could be burning up the dancefloor on Sunday night should the Czechs win their first Davis Cup title in 32 years. Not likely just yet -  Ferrer finally gets the necessary break on his 9th opportunity after Stepanek sends down his 5th double fault of the match.

Stepanek 3-4 Ferrer*
Ferrer lost the first point of this game but he makes a solid recovery. The Spanish are mostly on the edge of their seats now and the Czechs are equally as active in their support of their (almost) 34-year old talisman.

Stepanek* 3-3 Ferrer
Stunning sixth game really sets the atmosphere alight inside this O2 Arena. Ferrer opens the game with three break points after shocking consecutive double faults from Stepanek. The game's as good as done, but Stepanek hangs in, surviving on a challenge that goes his way while Spain think the break is theirs. And so ensues a battle - Ferrer having his chance to gain from a challenge too but the two guys battling out.... Stepanek with his wonderful trademark backhand volleys and a seriously impressive serve, and Ferrer with his searing forehands. Stepanek staves off 6th break point opportunity with a huge 195km/h serve and a 'come on!' but again, AGAIN, Ferrer refuses to go down. A 7th break point opportunity....but finally, 43 minutes into the match and in only the sixth game, Stepanek seals when Ferrer returns his brutal serve long.

Stepanek 2-3 Ferrer*
Great baseline game from Ferrer, some seriously punchy forehands but Stepanek's keeping the window open by forcing him to the net. They've got 'Fight of Fans' playing on the big screen at the change of ends. No punch-ups yet thank goodness.

Stepanek* 2-2 Ferrer
Looks like we're sat next to a bunch of big kids down by the court. It's just the Spanish team, all sucking on lollies and receiving some humorous face-pulling from Nicolas Almagro (who I hope is going to man-up when he plays the second match).

Ferrer responds well to a dextrous performance at the net from Stepanek and pushes Stepanek hard but the Czech holds again.

Stepanek 1-2 Ferrer*
Ferrer shanks a forehand to give Stepanek a chance for an early break at 30-all, but he stretches his opponent right to the other side of the court. Looks like Stepanek's return off the glide is going to go in but it eeks out to the relief of Ferrer. He remains on serve.

Stepanek* 1-1 Ferrer
Clean game from the Czech, finished with an ace. Umpire Jake Garner better get a decent arm rest - he's having to constantly raise his arm to quieten the band of Czech fans who are slightly delaying the in-between points with their trumpeting.

Stepanek 0-1 Ferrer*
Shaky serving from Ferrer in the opening game and already we're getting a sign of the expected noise in this stadium when Stepanek produces a winning backhand and the fans go mental. It's two 30-somethings against each other in this match. Both incredible stamina though.

16:00 So formalities and celebrations done and it's down to business. Stepanek and Ferrer are getting themselves together for the warm-up, the 13,800 stadium is jam-packed, and our radio guys are live on air. What more could you want.

A 10th meeting between these two players by the way. They've met just once this year though and Ferrer is on a winning run against Stepanek at the moment.

15:50 Former Davis Cup champions Feliciano Lopez and Juan Carlos Ferrero have planted themselves courtside and are on their feet to welcome their team onto court. The lights are down, the spotlights are on. Totally cool atmosphere.

15:30 It's finally here! Welcome to the 100th Davis Cup Final! So with half an hour to go til play starts, we first have an amazing opening ceremony to honour such an amazing occasion. We've got laser shows, drummers.....the whole shebang. And with such a hyped-up final on the tennis court itself, total pleasure to be here.

Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live

David Ferrer (ESP) - 16/11/2012

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    • David Ferrer (ESP)David Ferrer (ESP)
    • The Spanish bench celebratesDavid Ferrer (ESP)
    • Radek Stepanek (CZE)The Spanish bench
    • The O2 ArenaRadek Stepanek (CZE)
    • The President of Czech Republic Vaclav KlausThe Davis Cup trophy
    • Czech benchThe Czech crowd
    • David Ferrer (ESP)David Ferrer (ESP)
    • David Ferrer (ESP)Radek Stepanek (CZE)
    • David Ferrer (ESP)Captain Jaroslav Navratil and Radek Stepanek (CZE)
    • The Czech crowdThe opening ceremony

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