Swiss Czech-mated out of top Davis Cup group

Keystone

The Czech Republic have relegated Switzerland to the regional level of Davis Cup tennis after beating the Roger Federer-led Swiss 3-2.

This content was published on September 23, 2007 - 19:38

Radek Stepanek defeated Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the decisive fifth rubber, giving the Czechs victory in Prague and a place in the 2008 World Group.

The Swiss, led by world number one Roger Federer, will start the next Davis Cup season in Europe/Africa Zone Group I, a place they have not been in since 1994.

Federer levelled the score, 2-2, in the first match on Sunday, defeating number ten ranked Tomas Berdych 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.

But Stepanek proved too much for Wawrinka, Switzerland's number two, in the final and decisive match.

Both Stepanek and Wawrinka held serve in the opening set, with the Czech winning the tiebreaker. Stepanek then broke Wawrinka for a 3-1 lead in the second set.

Wawrinka took a 3-0 lead in the third set, but Stepanek broke back for 3-2 and evened the score with a love game. Serving at deuce with Wawrinka leading 4-3, Stepanek took a medical time-out and then served with tape above his knee to even the score at 4-4.

Wawrinka won the next game at love to lead 5-4, but Stepanek held on and won the tiebreak.

Federer

Federer had a tough time against Berdych in the first singles match of the day.

"This match reminded me a lot of the US Open final against [Novak] Djokovic when I was down and came back too," Federer said.

Berdych broke Federer for a 2-1 lead in the first set but failed to convert a set point in the ninth game. Federer then broke back to level at 5-5.

Berdych took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak, but Federer won the next six points before closing out the set. Leading 3-2 in the second set, Berdych again had two set points against Federer's serve in the ninth game, but failed to convert.

Berdych had another three set points in the tiebreak, but Federer finally won 12-10.

"It was close, he had his chances but he missed them," Federer said. Federer then broke Berdych for 5-3 in the third set and ended the match with an ace.

Debut

The Czech side went into Sunday with confidence having won the doubles' event.

In a last-minute move on Saturday, Stepanek was teamed up with Berdych to face Federer and Yves Allegro.

Federer was making his 2007 debut in the Davis Cup, hoping to help Switzerland stave off relegation.

Without Federer, Switzerland were relegated to the play-offs after losing to visiting Spain 3-2 in February. The Czech Republic lost to the United States 4-1 in the first round.

swissinfo with agencies

Davis Cup

The Davis Cup is the main international team event in men's tennis. The cup is contested between national teams in a knockout format.

The competition began in 1900 as a challenge between the United States and Britain.

In 2007, 131 nations entered the competition. Only 16 take part in the World Group.

The United States are the most successful nation to date, winning 31 tournaments, and finishing as runners-up 29 times. Australia are the second most successful, winning 28 times and finishing second 18 times. Russia are the reigning champions.

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