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Stepanek makes history as Czech Republic defend title

ESPN staff
November 17, 2013 « Taylor champion after edging Lewis in a record-breaking classic | Chartbeat test »
The Czech Republic team lift the trophy © Getty Images
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Radek Stepanek made Davis Cup history by becoming the first player to win the deciding fifth rubber in consecutive finals as he swept aside Serbian rookie Dusan Lajovic.

The Czech veteran beat the 117th-ranked Lajovic 6-3 6-1 6-1, converting his first match point with a volley to send around a thousand visiting Czech fans at Belgrade Arena into wild celebrations as they blew trumpets and beat their drums.

Stepanek spread his hands on the court as Tomas Berdych and other team-mates piled on.

This was the second Davis Cup title for the Czechs as an independent nation. Serbia won its only crown in 2010, beating France in Belgrade.

"I don't think words can describe it," Stepanek said. "It is completely different from the first time. To defend this trophy means the world.

"Playing in Serbia on their surface in front of their fans - who were amazing... We made history today."

Czech captain Vladimir Safirik paid tribute to Stepanek, who was also the hero last year as he beat Spain's Nicolas Almagro in the deciding singles of the final.

"Radek is a real professional. In the final of the fifth rubber, to win 6-3 6-1 6-1 is something amazing."

Earlier in the day, Novak Djokovic saw off Tomas Berdych 6-4 7-6(5) 6-2 to level the final at 2-2 and take it to a deciding rubber.

The win was world No. 2 Djokovic's 24th in a row - a run which stretches back to the US Open final defeat to Rafa Nadal in August and has seen him pick up titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and last week's ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Djokovic had sent the Davis Cup final to a deciding rubber © Getty Images
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