Davis Cup final locked at 1-1, as expected
By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE, Nov 15 - Roared on by 17,000 partisan fans Novak Djokovic fired Serbia ahead in the Davis Cup final on Friday but Tomas Berdych hit back for the Czech Republic to leave the tie delicately poised going into the weekend.
The opening day went exactly according to the script with home talisman Djokovic seeing off the challenge of Radek Stepanek 7-5 6-1 6-4 in the Kombank Arena just days after winning the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Berdych was rock-solid as he cooled the atmosphere in the cavernous indoor arena, beating gutsy world number 117 Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4 6-3.
Lajovic, a last-minute replacement for the injured Janko Tipsarevic, won the hearts of the home fans with some gritty resistance but could find no way through against the hard-hitting Berdych.
Saturday's doubles, which is likely to feature Berdych and Djokovic, now looks crucial to the outcome of the tie.
"We have not yet decided who will play the doubles tomorrow but if everything stays as it is, Radek (Stepanek) and I are ready to team up because we both feel good and not too exhausted after today's singles," Berdych said.
With Serbia short of injured Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki, who is serving a doping ban, Djokovic looks like being in for an exhausting end to his season too.
"I am still not sure if I will play in the doubles (on Saturday) because we have to look at Sunday's reverse singles too and the overall exertions of the three-day schedule," Djokovic said after brushing Stepanek aside. Continued...