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Tennis | Davis Cup

Ivan Lendl © Gallo Images

Czechoslovak winners hope in reprise

Czechoslovak Davis Cup winners from 1980 met for a reunion before the final tie between the Czech Republic and Spain starting on Friday.

"We hope the boys will follow in our footsteps and that there will be a party on Sunday," said Ivan Lendl, who led Czechoslovakia to the trophy.

Only one of the current Czech players was alive when Czechoslovakia – which split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 – lifted the Davis Cup in 1980.

"Mom was probably changing my diapers when they were playing," laughed 33-year-old Radek Stepanek, opening the 100th Davis Cup final against David Ferrer on Prague's hardcourt.

His teammate Tomas Berdych, facing Nicolas Almagro on Friday, was born in 1985.

Lendl, the coach of world No 3 Andy Murray, said he expected a close tie.

"There's a lot of talk about the surface, about the home crowd, but it is the current form that will decide," he said.

"It's not healthy to make predictions in public, but of course I hope the boys will win," he added.

Tomas Smid, who won the opening single despite being sick as Czechoslovakia beat Italy 4-1 in Prague in 1980, was the only member of the 1980 team willing to gamble.

"My guess is we'll win 3-1," he said.

Pavel Slozil, Smid's frequent doubles partner, said everything depended on Berdych's form.

"If he's OK, he'll win three points and that will do it," he said.

And Jan Kodes, the 1970 and 1971 Roland Garros winner and 1973 Wimbledon champion, said he expected Berdych and Stepanek to beat ATP Tour Finals winners Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in Saturday's doubles.

"We will lead 2-1 after the first two days. But I don't dare predict the last day," he said.


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