By Jan Kodes
Jan Kodes of the Czech Republic, the 1973 Wimbledon champion, 1970-71 French Open champion and the 1971 and 1973 US Open singles runner-up, is the author of the book A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN, a one-of-a-kind coffee table book that documents the history of tennis in the Czech Republic. The book features an incredible array of historic and never seen before photos and many anecdotes and stories about Czech players including Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl and many others. It is available for 24 percent off here: http://www.amazon.com/Jan-Kodes-Journey-Behind-Curtain/dp/0942257685/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320242085&sr=1-1 Kodes was a member of the only Czech team to win the Davis Cup back in 1980. He also lead the Czechs to its first appearance in the Davis Cup final in 1975.
The up-coming Spain vs. Czech Republic Davis Cup final this weekend in Prague should be a heavy test for Czech players Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek.
The team has selected a fast indoor surface in its attempt to win the Davis Cup trophy for the first time since 1980 and for only the second time in history. Back in 1980, at the indoor ice hockey stadium on a rubber carpet supreme court, the Czech team won the Davis Cup for the first time, 4-1 over Italy. That Czech team was made up of Ivan Lendl, Tomas Smid, Pavel Slozil and myself.
The Spaniards have arrived in Prague without Rafael Nadal and therefore I rate the chances of the Czechs of winning the Cup at 50-50. This is the fourth Davis Cup final for the Czech team. We lost to Sweden on a fast indoor court in Stockholm by a 3-2 margin, where I lost to Bjorn Borg in the match that clinched the win for Sweden. In 1980, the Czech team beat Italy 4-1 where Lendl powered our team to victory and Smid beat Adriano Panatta in five sets in the opening match. In 2009, Tomas Berdych and the Czech team were beaten 5-0 by Spain on clay in Barcelona.
Who will win this time? The Spanish doubles team of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez just won the ATP World Tour Finals in London! David Ferrer has had a great season winning seven ATP singles titles and Nicolas Almagro, who reached top 10 this year, likely playing in the second singles position. For sure this will be an open tie and the Czechs must believe in Berdych to win both of his singles matches. Radek Stepanek, the Czech big fighter star, might surprise on the opening day. Can he beat Ferrer? This could be a key match too!
Both Czech players had to play all three days so far during their run, but they were also a little lucky. Against Serbia in quarterfinals, Novak Djokovic did not show up and with Argentina in Buenos Aires in the semifinals, Juan Martin Del Potro give up the tie after winning his opening match.
The Czechs have a strong chance to win at home and must take it just like the Czech women did in winning the Fed Cup also in Prague. The Czechs have had many several solid performances in getting to the final and are deserving of being Davis Cup champions. However, they have to play great tennis for one more weekend!