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Chile outclass Czechs to lift first their World Team Cup

DUSSELDORF, Germany (AFP) - Chile outplayed the Czech Republic to lift the World Team Cup for the first time.

Fernando Gonzalez made a perfect start by claiming a dramatic 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5) victory over Jiri Novak, and after Radek Stepanek levelled the tie by overcoming Marcelo Rios 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), Gonzalez teamed with Nicolas Massu to beat Novak and Stepanek 6-4, 6-2 in the doubles.

Gonzalez made his fourth great escape in two weeks as he battled his way to victory against Novak. He won his first round match at the Hamburg Masters after trailing 5-1 in the third set, and in his Friday match in Dusseldorf he beat David Nalbandian in straight sets after falling behind 4-2 in the first set and 5-2 in the second.

Against Novak, he trailed 4-0 in the first set after nine minutes before staging a strong recovery. And he also fought back as Novak served at 5-4 in the second set to level the match.

The Chilean made a sluggish start in the heavy conditions, but once he found his feet he was able to challenge, especially with his intimidating forehand constantly placing Novak under pressure.

After pulling back to 4-4, Gonzalez held a break point to lead 6-5, but that was saved with a backhand volley as Novak eventually held serve with his sixth game point. Gonzalez then took the tiebreak, but even then he had to stage a comeback after Novak had broken to lead 4-3.

Rain caused a delay of over an hour early in he second set, but Novak came out strongly after the re-start and broke to lead 3-2. Gonzalez then broke the Czech's serve at 5-4, struck an ace to hold off a break point at 5-5, and held two match points at 6-5 before eventually claiming victory in the tiebreak on his third match point.

Rios found little consolation in making Stepanek work hard for his victory. The Czech needed three break points at 2-1 to take the lead, and although he gave up just four points on his own serve, that was all that separated the two in the opening set.

The second was equally close, with Rios leading 3-1 and then breaking Stepanek when he served for the match at 6-5.

Rios also fought back from 0-5 in the tiebreak, but could not do enough to prevent a Stepanek victory.

"I think I've had an awful week," said Rios, who lost two of his three matches. "I feel really bad. I think we have been winning because the other players on my team are playing really good."

The Winning Team...


Fans celebrating...
 
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