(November 16, 2012) -- In Rafael Nadal's absence, David Ferrer is taking care of business for visiting Spain as it continues in its quest for a fourth Davis Cup title in five years.
Ferrer passed his first test today, defeating 34-year-old veteran Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.
The Spaniard took the lead for good when he broke on his ninth opportunity of the first set to lead 5-3 over Stepanek. The World No. 5 did his best to silence the crowd all day, earning 25 break points and converting on five of them.
The 100th Davis Cup final is the second final contested between Spain and the Czech Republic since 2009. Spain defeated the Czechs 5-0 in Barcelona in 2009, but 2012 promises to be a lot closer with the Czechs playing at home in Prague on a fast hard court.
In 2009 final Ferrer needed over four hours and five sets to put Radek Stepanek away in the second rubber. Today, with the hopes of his nation resting on his shoulders, Ferrer had a much easier go of it.
Ferrer broke early in the second set, but Stepanek countered to even the set at three apiece before Ferrer would strike the decisive blow in the ninth game again to seize control.
In the third set, Ferrer broke Stepanek in the first game for the second consecutive set, and this time he never trailed, closing the match out on serve.
Ferrer ups his career Davis Cup record to 22-4 with the win, and moves to 4-2 on hard courts in the international competition.
The Czech Republic is looking for its first team title since 1980. Czechoslovakia took the title in 1980 behind a 10-0 season by a 20-year-old Ivan Lendl. 13 years later, Czechoslovakia would split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Spain is looking for its sixth title since 2000.
Ferrer hit 48 winners against 30 unforced errors on the day, while Stepanek hit 35 winners against 46 unforced errors. Ferrer has now beaten Stepanek four straight times since losing to Stepanek at Wimbledon in five sets in 2009.
The Spaniard holds a 7-3 career edge against Stepanek.
The Czech Republic is trying to become the first nation to sweep the Fed Cup and Davis Cup competitions in the same year since The Americans managed the feat in 1990.