Tennis-Spain's Ferrer to face Czech Stepanek in Davis Cup opener

Jason Hovet
Reuters Middle East

PRAGUE, Nov 15 (Reuters) - World number five David Ferrer will start Spain's bid for a fourth Davis Cup title in five years on Friday against the Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek.

The Czech team's top player, sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych, will then take on Nicolas Almagro in the second of the opening day's matches.

Defending champions Spain are without injured former world number one Rafa Nadal but team captain Alex Corretja was happy with the outcome of Thursday's draw.

"If I could choose, I would have David (play) first," Corretja told a news conference. "He has played in more finals... so I prefer David to start because of his experience."

The Czechs are aiming to achieve a rare double after the women's team won the Fed Cup in Prague two weeks ago.

A Davis Cup victory would make the Czech Republic the first country in 22 years to claim both trophies in the same season.

Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez will lead Spain in Saturday's doubles match. The pair are just coming off a doubles victory at the ATP Tour Finals.

Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil has slated Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar for the doubles but will likely turn to Berdych and Stepanek instead.

Spain beat Argentina in the 2011 final, and hold the advantage over the Czechs after a 5-0 drubbing of a squad led by Berdych and Stepanek in the 2009 final in Barcelona.

"We knew that if we kept doing what we were doing, then another chance would come," Stepanek said.

"And here we are sitting with our second chance to win the trophy and we will put everything on the line to win."

The Czechs are counting on a home crowd of more than 13,000 in Prague's O2 Arena and a fast indoor hard court that favours their play to help them win their first Davis Cup title since 1980. (Editing by Alison Wildey)

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