Tomas Berdych produced a strong start for 2009 runner-up Czech Republic as he comfortably dismissed Belgium’s Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes on indoor clay on Friday. The 24 year old struck 11 aces and hit 49 winners in comparison to Rochus’ 16 as he improved to a 3-2 record over the diminutive Belgian.
"It was quite a good performance," said Berdych. "Every chance I got I just took it. He had nothing to lose, and I'm pretty happy I was able to finish it the way I did."
World No. 25 Berdych played a pivotal role in taking Czech Republic to its first Davis Cup final since 1980 last year and has made a solid start to his 2010 individual campaign, coming into the tie on the strength of two quarter-final showings at the SAP Open (l. to Roddick) and the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships (l. to Gulbis).
Radek Stepanek later gave the visitors a 2-0 overnight lead in Bree when he defeated Xavier Malisse 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(3) in two hours and 16 minutes. The Czechs now just need to win one of the three remaining rubbers over the course of the weekend to secure a place in the quarter-finals for the third straight year.