PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych brought the hosts level at 1-1 with holders Spain in the Davis Cup final with a battling five-set victory over Nicolas Almagro on Friday.
The top Czech player, ranked sixth in the world, used his booming serve to good effect and drew inspiration from the vocal home support to get win 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-7 6-3.
Earlier, Spain’s top player David Ferrer beat Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-4 6-4 in a hard-fought opening match.
World number 11 Almagro pushed Berdych all the way and won the fourth set tiebreak with one of 21 aces but the Spaniard’s brave resistance was finally broken by the 6‘5” Czech.
“I messed it up a bit,” Berdych said regarding the fourth set. “I gave him too much of an advantage in the tiebreak. So I was really looking forward to playing with this crowd at my back (in the final set). It is an amazing feeling,” .
“We opened the chance for Sunday. That’s a good step for us.”
Berdych will likely team up with Stepanek in Saturday’s doubles before the reverse singles on Sunday.
Spain are bidding for a fourth Davis Cup crown in five years while the Czechs are aiming to become the first country in 22 years to win men’s and women’s team titles in the same season.
Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Ken Ferris