Djokovic, Berdych win on Day 1 of Davis Cup final

Novak Djokovic kicks off the Davis Cup final with a straight-set win over Radek Stepanek on Friday in Belgrade, Serbia. Tomas Berdych evens the score for the visiting Czechs by cruising past Dusan Lajovic.

Novak Djokovic d. Radek Stepanek 7-5, 6-1, 6-4

Djokovic gave Serbia a 1-0 lead over the Czech Republic in Belgrade’s Davis Cup final by beating Stepanek in two hours and 10 minutes on Friday afternoon. The world No. 2 improved to 23-0 since the U.S. Open, although Stepanek did not go down entirely without a fight. Despite trailing 5-2 in the first set, the 34-year-old battled back with a break in between two holds. Nonetheless, Djokovic recovered to hold for 6-5 before breaking for the set with a clinching backhand pass.

Stepanek secured his opening service game of the second, but it was downhill from there. Djokovic ran off five straight games to seize a 2-0 lead and he all but ended it with a break for 5-4 in the third. The crowd favorite made no mistake with the match on his racket, serving it out with the loss of only one point. This was Djokovic’s eighth consecutive win over Stepanek and ninth overall out of 10 meetings.

Tomas Berdych d. Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4, 6-3

Berdych took care of business and held all 14 of his service games without facing a break point to beat Lajovic in one hour and 54 minutes. Filling in for the suspended Viktor Troicki and the injured Janko Tipsarevic, Lajovic had the tough task of competing in his first-ever live Davis Cup rubber. Serbia was a huge longshot to make the score of the tie 2-0 after the first day, but Lajovic at least put up a strong effort.

The world No. 117 dropped serve only once in each of the first two sets. Even in the third, when Lajovic was broken twice, the two players were separated by just four total points. The 23-year-old tried to make his opponent serve it out, but he could not win a marathon service game of his own at 3-5. Berdych finally converted match point by forcing Lajovic into a forehand error. Sunday’s all-important doubles rubber is expect to pit Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic against Berdych and Stepanek.

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