Czechs into Davis Cup final, Canada on brink
Czech Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek celebrate after winning the third round of the Davis Cup semi-final duobles match against Argentinians Horacio Zeballos and Carlos Berlocq. The duo led holders Czech Republic to a third Davis Cup final in five years.
Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych led the Czechs to a third final in five years after breezing past Argentina's Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos in Saturday's doubles 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
"It's pure fantasy, the guys played at a hundred percent again," said Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil after his side took a 3-0 lead in Prague.
"They didn't give the Argentinians a chance."
Berdych and Stepanek won the 13th of their 14 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together since teaming up in 2007.
On Friday, Stepanek, who won the US Open doubles title with India's Leander Paes last weekend, had defeated Juan Monaco 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2.
Berdych then saw off Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The Czechs, who won the 2012 trophy by beating Spain, will travel to either Canada or 2010 champions Serbia for the November 15-17 final.
Canada silenced 8,000 spectators in Belgrade when Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil defeated Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5/7), 10-8 in a four-hour doubles marathon to go 2-1 ahead.
Serbia were in a similar position in their 2010 semi-final against the Czech Republic, but managed to win both singles on the final day.
"The guys did their best. We have to win the match in singles on the third day," Serbian coach Bogdan Obradovic said.
Canada's coach Martin Laurendeau couldn't hide his satisfaction.
"This is Davis Cup, this is why the guys play the game -- it's a moment we've been waiting for a long time. The weekend isn't over yet, we're facing the world No.1 tomorrow and this is a very tough crowd," he said.
In Friday's singles, world number one Djokovic disposed of Pospisil 6-2, 6-0, 6-4, while Milos Raonic, the Montenegro-born world number 11, battled past Janko Tipsarevic 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 10-8.
On Sunday, Djokovic will face Raonic before 23rd-ranked Tipsarevic plays against Pospisil, the world number 41.
In Madrid, US Open champion Rafael Nadal teamed up with Marc Lopez to give Spain an unassailable 3-0 lead over Ukraine in their World Group play-off.
The Spanish pair beat Denys Molchanov and Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-4 in just over three hours to ensure the five-time champions will remain amongst the world's top 16 nations next year.
It was Nadal's third best-of-five set match in just six days and his first doubles clash in Davis Cup in seven years.
After sealing his 13th Grand Slam title in New York on Monday, he cruised to a 6-0, 6-0, 6-4 win over Stakhovsky on Friday.
"The doubles are always up and down in Davis Cup -- very long matches and on clay even more so," Nadal, who will not play in the dead rubbers on Sunday, told www.daviscup.com.
"The goal is achieved, we stay in the World Group for another year."
In Umag, Great Britain led 2005 champions Croatia 2-1 after Andy Murray and Colin Fleming saw off Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (8/6), 6-1.
"We are happy. This sets us up for Sunday," said Wimbledon champion Murray, the world number three.
Switzerland retained their World Group status with their third win in a row against unheralded Ecuador.
Stanislas Wawrinka, in the spotlight after powering into the US Open semi-finals, paired up with Michael Lammer to see off the Ecuadorian duo Emilio Gomez and Roberto Quiroz 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4.
Their victory in Neuchatel made it 3-0 for the Swiss who were playing without Roger Federer.
Australia's hopes of returning to the World Group suffered a jolt when Poland kept the two nations' play-off alive in Warsaw.
Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski defeated Chris Guccione and debutant Nick Kyrgios 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 in the doubles rubber after Australia had won both of Friday's singles.
Saturday's defeat ended Guccione's run of eight successive wins in the tournament.
In other World Group ties, Colombia lead Japan 2-1, Israel are 2-1 up on Belgium, Germany have a 2-1 edge on Brazil while the Netherlands defeated Austria 3-0.