Czech Republic takes 2-1 lead in Davis Cup semis
The Czech Republic took a 2-1 lead over Serbia in their Davis Cup semifinal by winning Saturday's doubles despite the return of second-ranked Novak Djokovic for Serbia.
Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek rallied to defeat Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-1.
Djokovic skipped Friday's opening singles because he was still tired after losing the U.S. Open final to Rafael Nadal on Monday. He entered the doubles but did not make much difference, losing his serve in the final game of the match.
''We can't allow ourselves to get mentally down and think about what happened. We lost momentum today and they gained confidence,'' Djokovic said.
He will have to win his match against Czech No. 1 Berdych on Sunday to keep alive Serbia's hopes of reaching its first Davis Cup final.
''It's going to be very tough, Berdych is having his best year on the tour,'' Djokovic said.
Berdych beat Djokovic to reach the Wimbledon final, but the Serb has won the other two matches between them.
''We played as a team today,'' Berdych said. ''I didn't feel that good after yesterday and after we lost the first set, but we had a good atmosphere on the court and I got better and better.''
Berdych lost Friday's second singles to Janko Tipsarevic.
He also looked shaky early in the doubles, dropping his serve in the first set that went to Serbia.
But the Czechs regrouped and it was Zimonjic, ranked No. 3 in the world in the doubles, who couldn't hold serve in the two middle sets.
Zimonjic said he was bothered by a lingering right elbow injury.
''I missed two easy volleys in the second set and after that they started serving very well and I wasn't returning well,'' Zimonjic said. ''Stepanek got them back into the match.''
Djokovic was the first to drop his serve in the fourth, then Zimonjic was broken, giving the Czechs a decisive 4-1 lead. Djokovic was broken for the second time in the final game as Berdych hit a passing shot on match point.
''I am definitely pleased how we played, we had great team spirit. We didn't go down mentally even after losing the first set,'' said Stepanek, who beat Viktor Troicki in the opening singles. ''This will surely give us a lot of positive energy for tomorrow.''
If Djokovic wins on Sunday, it will be up to Stepanek to beat Tipsarevic to take the Czech Republic to its second successvive Davis Cup final. The Czechs lost the final to Spain last year.
In the second semifinal, France took an unassailable 3-0 over Argentina on Saturday to secure its place in the final.