Czechs on verge of retaining Davis Cup trophy

Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:54pm EST
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BELGRADE (Reuters) - Holders Czech Republic took a 2-1 lead over hosts Serbia in the Davis Cup final after Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek romped to a 6-2 6-4 7-6 (4) win over Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac in Saturday's doubles.

The result put the Czechs firmly in the driving seat with Berdych now facing world number two Novak Djokovic in Sunday's opening singles before Stepanek takes on Dusan Lajovic, a late replacement for the injured Janko Tipsarevic, or Bozoljac.

An exhausted Djokovic, who arrived in his hometown after winning four tournaments and 22 matches on the trot before recording a straight-sets victory over Stepanek on Friday, was rested for the doubles.

"Djokovic was totally honest this morning and said that while he was prepared to spend every last ounce of energy in the singles, asking him to play in the doubles too would have been too much," Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic told a news conference.

"These two guys beat some really good teams, including the Bryan brothers (in the quarter-final win over the U.S.), so putting them together was a logical choice given the circumstances and we have no regrets at all.

"We've been here many times before and if Djokovic beats Berdych to level the score we are confident we can clinch it in the fifth rubber although we are in a very tough situation," added Obradovic.

Berdych and Stepanek improved their Davis Cup doubles record as a pair to 14-1 with an effervescent performance in the packed Kombank Arena, with several hundred colorful Czech fans often gaining the upper hand over 15,000 home supporters in terms of noise.

The away contingent let off their loud horns and danced to the tunes of a Serbian brass-band brought in to put some wind in the home team's sails.

Volleying past their opponents almost at will and carving them open with passing shots time and again, the Czech duo broke both Zimonjic's and Bozoljac's serve in the opening set as the Serbians also committed too many unforced errors.   Continued...

Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych (L) and Radek Stepanek celebrate a point against Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac during their Davis Cup World Group final doubles tennis match in Belgrade November 16, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov