Novak Djokovic kept alive Serbia’s hopes of winning its second Davis Cup title in four seasons by beating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the first reverse singles match Sunday to even the final at 2-2.
The second-ranked Djokovic won 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-2 to improve his career record against Berdych to 15-2.
The best-of-five series will now be decided in the final match between Radek Stepanek and Serbian Davis Cup rookie Dusan Lajovic.
"We both entered this match with a lot of tension," Djokovic said. "I managed to break his resistance in the second set."
Berdych was leading 5-4 in the second-set tiebreaker when he sent wide an easy backhand volley at the net. Then he lost a point on his serve, and Djokovic took his first chance to serve out the set.
Djokovic, who improved his winning streak to 24 matches since losing the U.S. Open final against Rafael Nadal in September, converted his first match point with an ace, bringing cheers from the boisterous Serbian crowd at Belgrade Arena.
"It’s really hard to find right and correct words to explain at what level he’s playing and how strong Novak is," Berdych said. "He is now the best player when he’s playing indoors, and that’s what he proved today. … We still have a match in front of us, which we are all counting on."
Djokovic asked the crowd to remain in the Arena to support Lajovic in the biggest match of his career. The 23-year-old Serb, who has a 5-12 record on the ATP tour, replaced Janko Tipsarevic, who missed the final with a heel injury.
The Czech Republic is defending the title. Serbia won its only Davis Cup title in 2010, beating France in Belgrade.