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Czech Republic crushes Japan

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Lukas Rosol and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic scored a comprehensive 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Japan’s Tatsuma Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama in doubles on Saturday in their Davis Cup World Group quarterfinal.

The victory clinched the tie 3-0 for the two-time defending champions, who will now advance to a semifinal in September against the winner of the quarterfinal between Germany and France this weekend.

Rosol and Stepanek factored in all three wins in the quarterfinal. The Czechs entered the tie with just a three-man team.

Playing on the hardcourt at Ariake Colosseum with the roof closed, the Czech pair just had too much firepower for their much lower-ranked opposition on this day.

The Japanese duo was done in by several untimely unforced errors.

The Czechs displayed fine shot-making throughout the contest, with Rosol exhibiting a strong serve and playing especially well from the baseline.

“We are happy to finish today so we can play without pressure tomorrow,” said Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil. “It was not easy for us. Radek and Lukas have not played doubles together too many times.”

The Czechs broke in the second game of the first set to take a 2-0 lead. Japan broke right back, but the set stayed on serve the rest of the way.

Rosol and Stepanek took the set on the fourth set point after a lengthy final game that went more than 11 minutes.

“This was our first Davis Cup doubles together,” said Stepanek. “We did well and found our range together. We had it under control from the first set.”

Ito and Uchimaya broke in the third game of the second set to move ahead 2-1, before the Czechs broke back to level at 3-3 on a nice backhand winner from Rosol.

Both sides then held serve until the Czechs broke to take the set in the 10th game.

The final set was on serve until the last game when the Czechs broke to wrap up the match and the tie.

Rosol, who was substituted for Jiri Vesely by Navratil on Saturday morning, is pleased his country is moving on again in the competition.

“We finished the sets strongly today and are happy to be going to the semifinals,” Rosol stated. “It’s always nice to have more players, but I think Radek and I played really well this weekend.”

Ito felt that the Czechs were able to kick it up a notch when they had to.

“The had an extra gear at the key moments. It’s tough to counter that,” Ito said. “Stepanek kept us off balance with some good return shots today.”

Stepanek and Rosol staked the Czech Republic to a 2-0 lead over Japan in the opening singles on Friday. The pair both earned hard-fought victories as the Czechs continue their quest for a third straight Davis Cup title.

Stepanek downed Tatsuma Ito 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 7-5 in the first match, while Rosol bested the unheralded Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 in the second.

Both sides were without their top players here. Tomas Berdych was out for the Czechs following two tough tournaments in the United States, while Kei Nishikori was sidelined due to an injured groin suffered in a quarterfinal victory over Roger Federer in the Sony Open last week in Miami.

“Though all three matches looked close, I still feel there is a big gap in the level of the players,” commented Japan captain Minoru Ueda. “The reason for this is experience.”

Ueda noted that his players in this tie are not often exposed to the caliber of opposition they faced here.

“Our three players are primarily playing in challenger events, while their players on going against the top players on the tour,” Ueda said.

Japan will remain in the World Group in 2015 despite the defeat.