Tennis: Czechs into Davis Cup final, Nadal keeps Spain in elite

Defending champions Czech Republic reached their second successive Davis Cup final on Saturday while US Open winner Rafael Nadal kept Spain in the elite World Group.

Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych led the Czechs to a third final in five years after breezing past Argentina's Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos in Saturday's doubles.

Stepanek and Berdych won 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to earn an unbeatable 3-0 lead in Prague.

The Czechs, who won the 2012 trophy by beating Spain, will travel to either Canada or Serbia for the November 15-17 final.

Serbia and Canada were level at 1-1 after Friday's opening singles in Belgrade.

"It's pure fantasy, the guys played at a hundred percent again," said Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil.

"They didn't give the Argentinians a chance."

The Czech duo of Berdych and Stepanek won the 13th of their 14 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together since teaming up in 2007.

On Friday, Stepanek, who won the US Open doubles title with India's Leander Paes last weekend, had defeated Juan Monaco 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2.

Berdych then saw off Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

In Madrid, Nadal teamed up with Marc Lopez to give Spain an unassailable 3-0 lead over Ukraine in their World Group play-off.

The Spanish pair beat Denys Molchanov and Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-4 in just over three hours to ensure the five-time champions will remain amongst the world's top 16 nations next year.

It was Nadal's third best-of-five set match in just six days.

After sealing his 13th Grand Slam title in New York on Monday, he cruised to a 6-0, 6-0, 6-4 win over Stakhovsky on Friday.

The 27-year-old was playing his first Davis Cup doubles rubber since 2005.

Fernando Verdasco had given Spain a winning start on Friday by beating Alexandr Dolgopolov 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, before Nadal defeated Stakhovsky, the man who had stunned Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

In Umag, Great Britain led 2005 champions Croatia 2-1 after Andy Murray and Colin Fleming saw off Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (8/6), 6-1.

"We are happy. This sets us up for Sunday," said Wimbledon champion Murray, the world number three.

Murray on Friday thrashed Borna Coric, the US Open junior champion, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 while Dodig defeated Dan Evans 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

Switzerland retained their World Group status with their third win in a row against unheralded Ecuador.

Stanislas Wawrinka, in the spotlight after powering into the US Open semi-finals, paired up with Michael Lammer to see off the Ecuadorian duo Emilio Gomez and Roberto Quiroz 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4.

Their victory in Neuchatel made it 3-0 for the Swiss who were playing without Federer.

In Friday's singles, Wawrinka had beaten Gomez 6-3, 6-0, 6-3, while Marco Chiudinelli had a tougher time against Julio Cesar Campozano, with the match ending 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7).

Australia's hopes of returning to the World Group suffered a jolt when Poland kept the two nations' play-off alive in Warsaw.

Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski defeated Chris Guccione and debutant Nick Kyrgios 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 in the doubles rubber after Australia had won both of Friday's singles.

Saturday's defeat ended Guccione's run of eight successive wins in the tournament.

On Friday, former world number one Lleyton Hewitt beat Lukasz Kubot 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 while Bernard Tomic saw off Michal Przysiezny 7-5, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4.

Australia are hoping to end their stretch of five consecutive World Group play-off losses.

In other World Group ties, Colombia lead Japan 2-1, Israel are 2-1 up on Belgium, Germany have a 2-1 edge on Brazil while the Netherlands defeated Austria 3-0.