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Defending Champion Closes On Final Berth Thanks To Berdych, Stepanek

Prague, Czech Republic

Stepanek© AFP/Getty ImagesRadek Stepanek celebrates his victory over Juan Monaco for the Czech Republic on Friday.

Venue: O2 Arena, Prague, CZE (hard – indoor)

Defending champion Czech Republic is one rubber win away from reaching the Davis Cup final for the fifth time.

Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek were the heroes for the host nation against Argentina on Friday.

Stepanek, who lifted the US Open doubles title with Leander Paes six days ago, dominated Juan Monaco on serve in a 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2 win over two hours and 33 minutes. 

After a tense first set, the 34-year-old Czech dropped 14 points on serve to clinch his 13th singles rubber win. ““It never gets old to play in front of our home crowd and in front of my family,” said Stepanek. “It’s always something special and I give 120 per cent.”

Berdych, who is in contention to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November, improved to 25-12 in singles rubbers with a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Leonardo Mayer in the second singles rubber. The World No. 5 required just over three hours to record his 44th match win of the season (44-17 overall).

Argentina, a four-time runner-up, playing its first away tie of 2013, now looks to Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos to clinch its first point in the doubles rubber. The duo is slated to meet Czechs Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely on Saturday.

The Czech Republic is attempting to record its eighth straight tie victory. Last year, the Czech Republic defeated Argentina 3-2 in the semi-finals at Buenos Aires.

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