11 April 2012 09:51

PRAGUE - A trip to Argentina might not be every tennis player's idea of a good Davis Cup draw, but there is little wonder it left Tomas Berdych and his Czech Republic team-mates breathing a sigh of relief.
Berdych led his team through a tough battle with 2010 winners Serbia in Prague at the weekend, taking them back to the semi-finals for the first time since they went all the way to the final in 2009.
Berdych does not need reminding of what happened then. His team were bludgeoned by Spain in Barcelona, whitewashed 5-0 with Berdych himself blown away by Rafael Nadal in the opening rubber.
So it is no surprise news of a trip to Buenos Aires was greeted with satisfaction by the Czechs, with Nadal's men handed a home tie against the United States in the other semi-final.
If the Czechs are to pull off what would have to be regarded as an upset and set up a repeat of the 2009 final, they will take plenty of extra encouragement from the way they performed against the Serbs.
Berdych himself won all three of his rubbers, rounding off victory with a gutsy straight-sets win over Janko Tipsarevic, coming from behind to win each of the sets via tie-break.
"It was probably my mental side of the game that got me through," said Berdych, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist whose attitude has not always been considered one of his strong points.
"We are in the semi-finals again and it was a great weekend. But Argentina are a really strong team and, if Spain are without Rafa or David Ferrer, they are the strongest opponent to face."
The US squeezed through against France in Monte Carlo in a match memorable because of John Isner, who showed unlikely clay-court skills to defeat both Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and retiring French captain Guy Forget.
Forget, a two-time Davis Cup winner as a player and captain for 13 years, made an emotional on-court speech in which he paid tribute to the tournament which provided him with so many special memories.
"There's been some really hard moments and tough losses," Forget admitted.
"To appreciate those (great) moments you have to go through stages where it's difficult. Sometimes people question your choices, but you have to accept that." (PA)