The Czech Republic will look to achieve a rare double when they take on champions Spain in the Davis Cup final, which starts tomorrow.
It is 22 years since a country has won the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup in the same season, but the feat is on for the Czechs after their women’s team beat Serbia at the same Prague venue two weeks ago.
The hosts are hoping a vociferous home crowd and a fast hardcourt surface will combine to give them the edge against a Spanish team aiming to lift the Davis Cup for the fourth time in five years.
Spain are without injured former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and will be delighted if they can repeat their 5-0 drubbing of the Czechs in the final on the clay courts of Barcelona three years ago.
“Barcelona was a great experience that we can learn from and maybe we can use that experience in front of our home crowd,” Czech player Radek Stepanek told reporters. “For us, the most important thing is to have three points come Sunday. That is why we are here ... that is what we are focusing on.”
The Czechs, who have only lifted the Davis Cup once before in 1980, face an uphill task.
Spain’s challenge will be led by world No. 5 David Ferrer, 30, who has enjoyed the best year of his career.
“The court will be better for the Czechs than us, but it is the final of the Davis Cup, so I’m sure it is going to be very close,” said Ferrer who is accompanied in the team by Nicolas Almagro, Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.
Granollers and Lopez became the first Spanish pair to win the doubles title at the ATP Tour Finals for 37 years when they lifted the trophy in London on Monday.
World No. 6 Tomas Berdych spearheads a Czech side that also contains Stepanek, Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar.
Berdych lost in the ATP Tour Finals to eventual winner Novak Djokovic and the Serbian world No. 1 shared the sentiments of Ferrer.
“Home advantage is important in the Davis Cup and support will be very big for the Czechs,” Djokovic said. “On the other hand, Spain are the most successful Davis Cup team over the last five to 10 years. It will be quite open in my opinion.”