Tomas Berdych (right) had a few choice words about Nicolas Almagro leading up to the Davis Cup final. (AP)
The most notable news coming out of the draw for this weekend's Davis Cup final between the Czech Republic and Spain is that Spanish captain Alex Corretja opted to use Nicolas Almagro as Spain's number two option behind David Ferrer, as opposed to Feliciano Lopez. Ferrer will open the competition on Friday against Radek Stepanek, followed by Almagro against the Czech's No. 1, Tomas Berdych.
Berdych has already spent a part of the week engaging in the rarest of tennis activities: trash-talking the competition. Berdych had no problem reminding everyone that he holds an 8-3 record over Almagro, beating him in four of their five meetings this year.
“I played faced Almagro many times this year and won most of them,” Berdych said. “If he’s nominated, he will be the weak point on which we can build our victory. He’s missing that little something that distinguishes great players [from the rest]. He’s won smaller tournaments this year. But he always has a chance if he plays.”
Wow. Tell us how you really feel, Tomas. And Berdych wasn't alone in his harsh words for Almagro. Feliciano Lopez was vocal with his disappointment in not being selected to take on Berdych, particularly because he holds a 4-3 lead in their head-to-head and his serve and volley style is more suited to a quick indoor court than Almagro's clay game. Lopez says he respects the captain's decision, but doesn't understand it.
"Ask Berdych who he would have preferred not to have as an opponent," Lopez told AS.com (translated here). If anyone could beat Berdych on this court it’s me. The court is ideal for my game."
While the Czechs have formally nominated Ivo Minar and Lukas Rosol to Saturday's doubles match, don't hold your breath for that to stand. Berdych and Stepanek have carried this team to the final in large part because of their doubles prowess -- they're riding an 11-1 record as a doubles team -- and are expected to play the doubles rubber against Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez. The Spaniards are coming off a career win in London, where they took the ATP World Tour Finals title. Berdych doesn't sound too concerned.
“You have to congratulate them, but now they are expected to do something different, so just tell them to hurry up and prepare,” Berdych said.
Barring either squad reeling off three straight wins to clinch the title, Sunday will lead off with what should be a hotly contested match between Berdych and Ferrer, followed by (if necessary), Stepanek against Almagro.