David Ferrer beat Radek Stepanek in straight sets to give defending-champion Spain a 1-0 lead over the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup tennis final.
Ferrer, ranked fifth by the ATP World Tour, won 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 over Stepanek at the 02 Arena in Prague. Ferrer is the highest-ranked player on the Tour in the final, while the 34-year-old Stepanek is ranked 37th.
“I played well, and I’m happy with my game,” the 30-year-old Ferrer said. “It puts us 1-0 up, but it’s a very long tie.”
Sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych faces No. 11 Nicolas Almagro in today’s second singles match on the indoor hard court in Prague. The best-of-five final continues with a doubles match tomorrow and two reverse singles the following day.
Spain is trying to win the premier team event in men’s tennis for the fourth time in five years and sixth time in all. The Spanish team is without Rafael Nadal, the world’s fourth-ranked player, who’s been sidelined since June by a knee injury.
The Czech Republic lost its only previous final appearance to Spain in 2009. The former Czechoslovakia captured its lone Davis Cup title in 1980.
The Davis Cup is celebrating its 100th final this year.