By DUSAN STOJANOVIC
BELGRADE, Serbia — The Czech Republic is one victory from winning a second straight Davis Cup.
The defending champions defeated Serbia in doubles for a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup final Saturday when Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beat Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4). The victory by the Czech pair on the indoor hard court at Belgrade Arena improved their Davis Cup doubles record to 14-1.
Berdych plays Novak Djokovic, who is on a 23-match winning run, in the first reverse singles today. The final could be decided when Stepanek likely meets cup rookie Dusan Lajovic in the last match of the best-of-five series.
“I am in the best possible position after Saturday,” said Berdych, who has beaten Djokovic only twice in 16 matches, and never on a hard court. “I have nothing to lose. I am going to go there and fight for each point.”
Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic said Zimonjic and Bozoljac gave their best, but lost against a better pair. Now come Sunday’s matches.
“We were in similar situations before,” Obradovic said.
Serbia came from 2-1 down in the 2010 Davis Cup final against France. The Serbs also overturned the deficit against Canada in the semifinals.
But both stars of those series aren’t playing. Viktor Troicki, who clinched Serbia’s only cup title in 2010, is serving a doping ban, and Janko Tipsarevic, who secured the win over Canada, has an injured heel.
Obradovic said he was not sure if Lajovic, who lost against Berdych in straight sets on Friday, would play if a fifth match is needed to settle the outcome.
On Saturday, the Czechs broke Zimonjic at the start of the first two sets. Zimonjic netted an easy volley in the second set to give the Czechs a two-set lead.
Stepanek saved the only break point for the Serbs at 2-3 in the third set with a fine drop shot. In the third-set tiebraker, Stepanek first lost his serve, but then Zimonjic and Bozoljac were hit by mini-breaks. Stepanek won the match with an ace.
“Today, it worked out really well. We fit perfectly. Honestly,” Stepanek said. “It was one of the best matches we played. But we have to stay humble, focused and concentrated. If it comes down to the fifth match, I will be ready to fight to the last point.”
Zimonjic said “they were better in every aspect of the game.”
“We had a little chance in the third set, but that was the only one,” he said. “They were controlling the match from the beginning to the end.”