September 16, 2012
David Ferrer helped Spain stretch its record home winning streak in Davis Cup play to 24 straight.
Alberto Morante/Getty Images

GIJON, Spain (AP) -- John Isner and the U.S. Davis Cup team saw firsthand that Spain's dominance isn't limited to Rafael Nadal.

Ferrer beat Isner 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday to give the five-time champions an insurmountable 3-1 lead and a shot at a fourth title in five years. They'll face the Czech Republic on the road in the final.

Helped by Isner's 70 unforced errors, the fifth-ranked Ferrer rallied to stay unbeaten on clay in the competition with his 16th straight win.

Isner was left slamming his racket in frustration.

"Spain is the high water mark in the Davis Cup in the last 15 years. We always knew it was going to be close," U.S. captain Jim Courier said. "They have great individual players, great depth and great passion for Davis Cup. It's not rocket science. You have great ingredients and you have to blend them together, and they do a great job."

Ferrer and Nadal had both said they would scale back Davis Cup availability after helping clinch last year's final title against Argentina. While Nadal has since been limited by injury, Ferrer decided to return to make this his team now.

"This is the competition in which I have felt the most emotions in. I'm a team player," said Ferrer, who has played a part in each of Spain's last three titles. "I don't know how much longer my career will last, so I want to do my best possible in the Davis Cup. (Spain captain) Alex Corretja motivated me to play this season."

Spain stretched its record home winning streak to 24 straight, and it hasn't lost on clay for 26 series. Its last clay loss was in 1999.

And, just like in 2008, it did it without Nadal.

Isner had more than twice as many unforced errors as Ferrer at the near capacity 15,000-seat venue on the Asturian coast. He looked little like the player who beat Roger Federer in Switzerland in the competition earlier this year.

"The Spanish team was just too good," Isner said. "They won the important points, and it's a bit discouraging for me because I wanted to contribute like I did in the first two ties, and that's a credit to (Nicolas) Almagro and Ferrer, who got two of their points from me."

The American started well, ripping several of his 28 forehand winners past a tentative Ferrer, who stuck to the baseline. A pair of his 16 aces helped secure the lead when Ferrer's forehand sailed long in the first-set tiebreaker.

Isner's momentum came undone quickly, however. He started struggling with his forehand, and that helped Ferrer, who saved four of the six break points he faced, draw even and find his rhythm.

Isner was coming apart as his serve lost pace - it clocked 143 mph in the first set. Ferrer earned triple break point in the seventh game of the third set, and the 10th-ranked American hit a forehand long to be broken. Later, Isner dropped his racket to the ground and kicked it before Ferrer moved one set from victory.

"I was going to fight, but in the fourth set he got on a bit of a roll," Isner said. "I don't think I got any free points on my serve; he returned my serve great in that fourth set, and he was playing with a lot of confidence."

Isner's frustration carried into the fourth set as he threw his racket to the ground and kicked it again as Ferrer broke to go up 2-1.

While the Bryan brothers clinched Saturday's doubles point, the U.S. has still only once recovered from a 0-2 deficit - in 1934.

Berdych puts Czech Republic into Davis Cup final

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Tomas Berdych defeated Carlos Berlocq in three sets Sunday to put the Czech Republic into the Davis Cup final against Spain.

Berdych had few problems with Berlocq, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to give the Czechs an insurmountable lead in the semifinal. Berlocq filled in for Juan Martin del Potro, who missed the decisive reverse singles with a left wrist injury.

Argentina's Juan Monaco then won the last meaningless singles match, beating Ivo Minar 6-3, 7-6 (2) to make the final result 3-2 for the Czechs.

The Czechs return to the final for the second time in four seasons and will host it in November. They will have a chance to avenge the 2009 final defeat to Spain.

"This is going to be the highlight of my career up until now," Berdych said of facing Spain. "It is going to be very difficult playing against Spain, the champion, but at least we are lucky to be playing at home."

Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, defeated Radek Stepanek on Friday but was ruled out for Sunday by the Argentina team doctor, who said the match made his injury worse. Del Potro has a history of wrist injuries.

Argentina was trying to reach its fifth Davis Cup final. It has lost all four, including last year against Spain.

There wasn't enough firepower with del Potro absent and David Nalbandian - the team leader for several years - sidelined with an abdominal injury.

Argentina's chances faded quickly Saturday. The loss in doubles to Berdych and Stepanek was followed by del Potro's withdrawal, leaving only Berlocq - who has never won an ATP event - to face No. 6-ranked Berdych. Even Diego Maradona, cheering in the stands for the third straight day, could not inspire Berlocq on the red outdoor clay at Parque Roca.

Berdych won all three points for the Czechs. He beat Juan Monaco on Friday 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, then teamed with Stepanek for a three-set win in doubles to set up his clincher Sunday.

It was Berlocq's Davis Cup debut in singles after losing Saturday in doubles with Eduardo Schwank.

Federer beats Haase to secure Swiss Davis Cup win

AMSTERDAM (AP) Roger Federer beat Robin Haase 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to clinch Switzerland's victory against the Netherlands in their Davis Cup World Group playoff Sunday.

The world's top-ranked player was rarely troubled by the 50th-ranked Haase on the temporary clay court in Amsterdam as he comfortably sealed victory and his team's return to the World Group next year.

With the outcome already determined, Thiemo de Bakker beat Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 7-6 (4) to make the final score 3-2.

Federer and Wawrinka won their opening singles Friday and lost in doubles Saturday to Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer.

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