Czechs complete 4-1 rout in Porec
The Czech Republic, who ensured a first Davis Cup final in 29 years after the opening three rubbers, wrapped up a 4-1 semi-final win over Croatia in Porec yesterday.
Croatia's Lovro Zovko defeated Lukas Dlouhy 6-3 6-4 in the second singles rubber after Jan Hajek had beaten Roko Karanusic 7-6 6-4.
The Czechs had qualified for the final away to Spain after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead on Saturday.
Doubles pair Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek comfortably defeated Zovko and Marin Cilic 6-1 6-3 6-4, a welcome straight-sets win coming after Friday's two marathon singles matches which had taken almost 10 hours to complete.
The Czechs, who haven't reached the final since their 1980 championship victory, will face holders Spain who defeated Israel 4-1.
"I am extremely proud of these boys, the whole team. For the first time since 1980 the Czechs are in the Davis Cup final, but I hope that this time we will hold this cup under the Czech name," coach Jaroslav Navratil said on Saturday.
In 1980, the Czech Republic was part of Czechoslovakia. The country split amicably into the Czech Rep. and Slovakia in 1993.
On Friday, Stepanek won a five-hour, 59-minute marathon against Ivo Karlovic in the opening singles clash. Karlovic sent down a world record 78 aces and had five match points but Stepanek still prevailed 6-7 7-6 7-6 6-7 16-14.
The second rubber also went the distance with Berdych beating Cilic 6-3 6-3 3-6 4-6 6-3 for a 2-0 lead.
Croatia coach Goran Prpic lamented that his team had not had enough support from fans.
"We were missing a real atmosphere," Prpic said.
Federer seals win
Roger Federer secured Switzerland's spot in next year's Davis Cup World Group with a 6-3 6-0 6-4 win over Italy's Potito Starace in a rain-affected match yesterday.
His commanding victory gave the Swiss team an unassailable 3-1 lead in the play-off. The world number one looked comfortable back on clay following his first French Open title in June, coping well with light drizzle in the first set and a long rain delay at 4-0 in the second.
Federer lost the US Open final to Juan Martin Del Potro last Monday before flying back to Europe and beating Simone Bolelli 6-3 6-4 6-1 in Friday's second singles rubber, putting the visitors 2-0 up.
Meanwhile, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga secured France a spot in next year's World Group by beating Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker 7-6 6-2 3-6 7-6.
The win gave France an insurmountable 3-1 lead over the Netherlands in their play-off tie.
Britain, however, were relegated to the tennis wilderness, otherwise known as Group Two of the Euro/Africa zone, after Poland's Michal Przysiezny beat Dan Evans in the decisive singles to secure a 3-2 victory yesterday.