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Berdych/Stepanek Clinch Doubles Rubber

Belgrade, Serbia

Czechs© Getty ImagesTomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek gave the Czech Republic a 2-1 lead.

SERBIA 1 CZECH REPUBLIC 2 
Hard - Indoor, Belgrade Arena, Belgrade, Serbia

Defending champion the Czech Republic will go into the third day of the Davis Cup final with a 2-1 lead over Serbia after winning the crucial doubles rubber on Saturday in Belgrade.

Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek clinched their 14th win in 15 Davis Cup doubles outings together as they defeated Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4) in two hours and 12 minutes. Both Berdych and Stepanek had been in action on a deadlocked Friday, with Stepanek falling to Novak Djokovic before Berdych levelled the tie with victory over Dusan Lajovic.

Berdych will have the chance to retain the title for the visitors when he faces World No. 2 Djokovic in the first of Sunday’s reverse singles rubbers. Djokovic is unbeaten in his past 23 matches, since finishing runner-up at the US Open (l. to Nadal), and holds a 14-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Berdych. 

"We've put all the pressure on Serbia. We are in the best possible position after Saturday,” said Berdych. “I have nothing to lose [against Djokovic]. I'm feeling good on the court. It's a huge challenge to play Novak in front of his home crowd and in the form he's in. But I will try to do my best, play my best tennis and you never know."

Stepanek competed at last week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in the doubles field with his fellow US Open champion, Leander Paes, and produced a masterclass as he steered the Czech Republic to victory at the Belgrade Arena. The visitors made a fast start, breaking Zimonjic in the very first game before clinching the opener after breaking Bozoljac in the seventh game.

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Another break of the Zimonjic serve at the start of the second set put the Czech Republic on course for a commanding two-set lead. Serbia offered greater resistance in the third set, forcing a tie-break after Zimonjic had saved two break points in the 11th game. But the Czechs won the clutch points to claim the straight-sets win.

"Today I felt pretty good on the court,” said Stepanek. “The first two and a half sets it felt like I was on a soccer field. Today the court seemed very big. I knew I had shown a great performance yesterday and I took positive things from the match. 

“I upgraded today a little bit and with such a partner as Tomas, having him by my side, it's a pleasure to play with him. Our games fit together and we controlled the match from the first until the last point.”

Berdych added, “I was feeling quite well on court and played a solid game. I hope it was enough. On the big points, we combined and took our chances; that's what we needed to do. Winning in straight sets is very helpful.”

Serbia is looking to regain the Davis Cup title following victory in 2010 (d. France). The host nation will need to win both of Sunday’s singles for victory. World No. 117 Lajovic is slated to face Stepanek in the fifth and potentially decisive rubber.

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