Belgrade - The Czech Republic got within a point of defending the Davis Cup
title as Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beat Serbia's Ilija Bozoljac
and Nenad Zimonjic in Saturday's doubles in Belgrade.
Stepanek won the 14th of their 15 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together as
they swept the hosts 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in two hours and 12 minutes to
give the Czechs a 2-1 lead over 2010 champions Serbia.
reverse singles, world number two Novak Djokovic will first take on
Berdych and Stepanek is due to face Dusan Lajovic, world number 117 who
has replaced the injured 36th-ranked Janko Tipsarevic.
But Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic said he may call on Bozoljac for the fifth rubber.
sure Novak is going to play, but I'm going to talk to the guys tonight
and we'll make a decision" about the fifth rubber, he said.
The Czechs dominated the doubles, being a more compact team from the start.
28-year-old Berdych served and returned well throughout while the
34-year-old Stepanek -- the world number nine for doubles -- gave yet
another spotless display at the net, delivering stunning volleys.
"I dare say this was maybe one of our best performances as a team," Stepanek said.
added: "They were better in every aspect of the game, a really strong
team, they've been playing together for many years and this is the
"They were controlling the game from the beginning to the end."
two Czechs, who only play together in the Davis Cup, allowed just a
single break point in the whole rubber midway through the third set.
37-year-old Zimonjic, world number 14 for doubles, received the Davis
Cup Award of Excellence before the match, but he showed only hints of
his talent to the frantic home crowd.
Zimonjic lost the very first
serve of the rubber and when Bozoljac, who is 28, followed suit in the
seventh game, the Czechs won the first set 6-2 in just 30 minutes.
took 40 minutes to win the second set -- Zimonjic kept struggling with
his serve, lost his first one again and that was all the Czechs needed
to win 6-4.
The third set was the tightest as the Czechs cooled
off a bit while the Serbian pair showed the blend of skills that took
them past the Bryan brothers in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in April.
Both pairs held on to their serves until a tiebreak in which the Czechs regained their dominance to win 7-6 (7/4).
"Today they dealt with pressure much better than we did. They won almost every important point in the match," said Bozoljac.
On Friday, Djokovic, the world number two and recently-crowned ATP World Tour Finals champion, beat Stepanek, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.
Berdych then put the Czechs level with a three-set win over Lajovic --
6-3, 6-4, 6-3 -- on the hardcourt at the sold-out Belgrade Arena which
sits more than 15,000 people.
Besides Tipsarevic, Serbia are missing 76th-ranked Viktor Troicki, out over a doping ban.
their third final in five years, the Czechs in turn have an interim
captain for this tie as Vladimir Safarik replaced Jaroslav Navratil who
was hospitalised with a pulmonary embolism.
Result of the Davis Cup final between Serbia and the Czech Republic on Saturday:
Serbia 1 Czech Republic 2
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek (CZE) bt Ilija Bozoljac/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
Played on Friday
Novak Djokovic (SRB) bt Radek Stepanek (CZE) 7-5, 6-1, 6-4
Tomas Berdych (CZE) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
Playing on Sunday (from 15:00 SA time)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) v Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Tomas Berdych (left) and Radek Stepanek (Getty Images)