A magnificent tennis double is on the cards this week in the Czech Republic as that nation works to achieve something that was last done in 1990 - to win the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas and the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in...
A magnificent tennis double is on the cards this week in the Czech Republic as that nation works to achieve something that was last done in 1990 - to win the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas and the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in the same year. 22 years ago the nation that claimed the two magnificent trophies was tennis’s historical powerhouse, the USA. The Czech Republic is halfway to emulating that. The women won the Fed Cup by trouncing Serbia earlier in the month. Now the men will take on the sport’s modern powerhouse, Spain at the same venue which saw the women triumph, the O2 Arena in Prague. The Czechs had the opportunity to secure the calendar year tennis double in 1975 when they last reached both finals in the same year but on that occasion the women won over Australia but the men lost to Sweden. However, 37 years ago neither of the finals was played in the Czech Republic or as it was known then, Czechoslovakia. With the final of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas I thought the key to the tie would be Petra Kvitova and her fitness. She was strong enough in her first singles but her recent illness was a telling factor in her second match so while she placed an important point on the board for the home side it was the fantastic play offered by Lucie Safarova that was the telling aspect. She stepped up to the mark. For the men I am not so sure any one player will be the cruncher. My feeling is the hard court surface and its speed is what will be important. All the players, from both nations, have had the same sort of preparation in that they have played the ATP World Tour Finals the week before. Nicolas Almagro for Spain was the alternate in London but Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer played and Radek Stepanek and Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez were in the doubles till the end. When Andy Murray was asked his views of the tie his first thought jumped to the surface saying he was not fully aware of the speed so it was hard to make an affirmative decision. “I think Spain has a few more options, but it's tough; it depends on the surface,” he said. “There are indoor hard courts that are like playing on ice. If it's extremely fast, I would say that would favour the Czechs. If it's slower, then I'd say the Spanish are slight favorites.” It was put to Berdych that the Spanish contingent (I was tempted to say armada but avoided it) is concerned about the speed of the court and the Czech No.1 didn’t seem to take kindly to what may have been insinuated as fixing. The point raised was met with a curt response. “Then probably the Spanish doesn't know there are some rules that you cannot make the surface actually as fast as you want. That's the rule of the speed of the court. So the court is going to be in between of the rules,” he said. Ferrer was not concerned about the speed even though he is figuring that it will be faster than it was in London. His point was that “we know the team” and that will be the focus, nothing else. The Spanish No1 for this final is so low key. He just goes about doing his job. “For me is not important to be No. 1 or No. 2 because every point is very important, is the same, no?,” he said. “Just this, we will try to do a very good tie, to try to win, and I hope I will win my match and will do one point for Spain.” Hopefully he is aware that he could be playing two singles matches. It was the same view held by Berdych, who will no doubt wear his lucky Olympics shirt in matches, but he admitted to feeling weary. He has to get his mind refocused and no doubt 14,000 screaming Czechs will create a similar atmosphere as was witnessed at the Fed Cup final and that will fire him up. “I'm just going to try to prepare myself as best as possible as I can for the event, and that's it,” Berdych said. By the way the last time both events were held in the same nation was in Germany in 1993 – Frankfurt for the women’s and Dusseldorf for the men’s.