For the second straight year, Radek Stepanek played the role of hero for the Czech Republic, beating Serbia's Dusan Lajovic in Sunday's decisive rubber in Belgrade to power his country to its second consecutive Davis Cup title and third overall.
Stepanek won in straight sets to lock up a 3-2 win for the Czechs, who became the first team since Spain in 2008 to win the Davis Cup away from home.
Novak Djokovic did his best to lead Serbia to its second Davis Cup crown in three years—beating Tomas Berdych convincingly in Day 3's first rubber—but his two victories weren't enough. The Czechs were ultimately able to capitalize on his absence from Saturday's doubles match.
With all five rubbers in the books, let's get you up to speed on how it all unfolded.
|Day 3 Scores|
|Rubber No. 4||Score|
|(SRB) Novak Djokovic def. (CZE) Tomas Berdych||6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2|
|Rubber No. 5||Score|
|(CZE) Radek Stepanek def. (SRB) Dusan Lajovic||6-3, 6-1, 6-1|
Radek Stepanek Delivers Another Clutch Performance
One year after beating Spain's Nicolas Almagro in four sets in the decisive rubber at the 2012 Davis Cup final in Prague, veteran Radek Stepanek lifted his country to the top of the tennis world once again.
The 34-year-old was absolutely dominant on Sunday, making it clear from the outset that he wouldn't be denied. After taking a one-set-to-love lead, Stepanek appeared to break Lajovic's will in the second frame, running away with it 6-1.
The final set would feature more of the same as Stepanek maintained his poise and took advantage of countless errors from Lajovic.
While the victory adds to Stepanek's growing legacy as one of the all-time clutch Davis Cup performers, the straight-sets loss means that Lajovic failed to win a single set in this year's final. The 23-year-old will certainly be disappointed with his overall performance, but there's no doubt he'll benefit from the experience gained from taking part in such a massive occasion.
Novak Djokovic Keeps Serbia Alive with Straight-Sets Win
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic did his best Superman impression for Serbia on Day 3, routing Tomas Berdych in straight sets in the day's opening rubber to extend his winning streak to 24 matches and preserve his side's chances.
Aside from a dramatic second-set tiebreak, the match was routine for Djokovic, who broke Berdych on his fourth set point in the opening set and cruised in the final set after picking up an early break.
The crowd was a significant factor as Nole gave them plenty to cheer about throughout.
To be fair, Berdych was playing for the third straight day, having participated in the Czech Republic's pivotal doubles victory on Saturday. Still, there's no faulting Djokovic for Serbia's unsatisfying performance in Belgrade.
Despite having to settle for second place, Djokovic and Serbia are sure to be in contention for the Davis Cup once again in 2014.
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