We've become legends now: Radek Stepanek

Published: 19 November, 2013 00:58 IST | AFP |

Triumphant after handing the Czech Republic its second successive Davis Cup with a stylish win, Radek Stepanek said he drew strength from passion for the competition he had wanted to play since he was a child.

“I love to play the Davis Cup from the first moment,” Stepanek said after making history as the first player ever to win two decisive fifth rubbers in two consecutive Davis Cup finals.

Czech Republic players
Czech Republic players celebrate with the Davis Cup. Pic/AFP

“It is a very unique competition. It has so much history. And it is the only occasion to play in front of our fans,” he added after trashing Serbian youngster Dusan Lajovic.

Stepanek, ranked 44 for singles and nine for doubles, used his specific style, including changing rhythm, dropshots and volleys throughout the weekend, saying he “played in the best form of his life.”

“We became legends today. We are one of only five teams that have defended the cup,” he said to a standing ovation from a large group of Czech fans in Belgrade.

Stepanek formed a perfect team with seventh-ranked Tomas Berdych in 2007. They have won 14 of their 15 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together and led the Czech Republic to three finals in five years and to nine straight wins in Davis Cup ties.

Turning 35 on November 27, Stepanek voiced admiration for a team led by Ivan Lendl, which lifted the trophy for former Czechoslovakia in 1980.

“The inspiration came when I was a kid. I saw the TV spots from 1980 when the team won for the first time.  And these pictures, I’ve had them in my head my whole life,” he said.

Popular among fans for his colourful playing style, involving wild fist-pumping and jumps of all sorts, Stepanek beat Nicolas Almagro of Spain in the fifth final rubber of the 2012 final before a home crowd in Prague.

He took a break from the competition with a back injury that ruled him out of the first-round tie in Switzerland and allowed him to only play the doubles rubber in Kazakhstan. 

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