|Posted on February 10, 2012 at 11:30 PM|
Tomas Berdych serves a ball to Simone Bolelli of Italy during their first round Davis Cup tennis match at the Cez Arena on February 10, 2012, in Ostrava.
Czech Republic leads Italy 2-0 in Davis Cup
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (AP)—Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek won their opening singles matches for the Czech Republic to take a 2-0 lead over Italy in the first round of the Davis Cup on Friday.
Stepanek had to dig deep to overcome Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, and then No. 7-ranked Berdych fought harder than expected to defeat the 135th-ranked Simone Bolelli 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
The Czechs need one more victory to win the best-of-five series and are expected to use Berdych and Stepanek in Saturday’s doubles against Daniele Braccialli and Potito Starace.
Berdych served 17 aces in the match on the indoor hard court at CEZ Arena but it was only in the fourth set when he clearly showed his superiority. He broke Bolelli in the first game and jumped out to a 5-1 lead, converting his first match point with an ace.
“I know him well and I expected such a game,” Berdych said. “He’s got a talent to be much higher (in the rankings).
“I enjoyed it toward the end and hope we’ll continue in the same way tomorrow.”
Berdych also served out the first set with an ace. Bolelli fought back in the second set, breaking in the 10th game. The Czech was struggling to find an answer to his opponent’s powerful forehand, but broke him for a 6-5 lead in the third set and served it out.
“I had to be very patient,” Berdych said.
Reverse singles are scheduled for Sunday.
The winner will face either Serbia or Sweden in the quarterfinals in April.
Tomas waits for a serve from Simone Bolelli
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Tomas Berdych Too Strong for Simone Bolelli
Tomas Berdych is congratulated by team captain Jaroslav Navratil -and former coach- after his victory over Italy's Simone Bolelli in their first round Davis Cup tennis match in Ostrava, February 10, 2012.
By Lee Goodall | Davis Cup site
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC: Tomas Berdych, who has lost just one match this year, continued his impressive form coming through 63 46 75 62 against Simone Bolelli in the second rubber of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round tie in Ostrava, extending the Czech lead to 2-0.
Berdych may have lost his last two matches against his opponent in today's match, but his current form and Davis Cup experience made him the firm favourite to prevail in today's clash. Berdych also came into Friday's singles rubber of the back of at tournament win at Montpellier last weekend.
It was not all smooth sailing for the Czech No.1, however, as Bolelli battled hard through the first three sets. A break at the end of the third set seemed to take the wind out of the Italian's sails and the final set was served out in impressive style by Berdych giving his team a chance to close out the tie in tomorrow's doubles.
Veteran campaigner Radek Stepanek produced a typically gutsy performance to earn the Czech Republic an early 1-0 lead.
The 33-year-old - the oldest of all 32 players contesting World Group singles matches around the globe on Friday - needed every ounce of his energy and experience to get past Italian No.1 Andreas Seppi 46 64 63 36 63.
It was a topsy-turvy contest, full of the usual twists and turns of Davis Cup tennis, but after three hours and 50 minutes Stepanek’s greater court craft made the difference.
The world No.30, who recently won the Australian Open men's doubles crown, used intelligent changes of pace, kept the ball low with his tricky sliced backhand and consistently put Seppi under pressure with profitable adventures into the net to record the 21st Davis Cup victory of his career.
It had all begun so well for Seppi, who lies 12 places below Stepanek in the ATP rankings. He stole a tight first set after breaking Stepanek at 5-4 during a game in which he conjured up a delightful lob and an aggressive inside-out forehand return on set point.
That disappointment seemed to wake Stepanek who played the more aggressive tennis during the next two sets. Roared on by a noisy, sell-out 7,500-crowd inside the CEZ Arena, he broke early in the second and took Seppi’s serve in the seventh game of the third to put himself a single set away from victory.
Seppi must be credited for digging deep in the fourth, however. Initially he struggled to hold onto serve, surviving long games at 0-1 and 1-2, but that seemed to strengthen the Italian as he converted a surprise break of serve to lead 3-2.
Seppi fought back from 0-40 in the next game to move 4-2 ahead and cruised through the remainder of the set to level the rubber at two sets all.
If anything, it was Seppi who appeared the more relaxed and confident at the beginning of the fifth. Nobody loves a battle like Stepanek, though, and he broke in the third game to wrestle the initiative back in the favour of the home side.
He held onto his initiative to leave Seppi serving to stay in the match at 3-5 and the pressure proved too much for the Italian whose challenge ended with him flat on his back after the final point which featured easily the longest rally of the match.
Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek won their opening singles matches for the Czech Republic to take a 2-0 lead over Italy in the first round of the Davis Cup on Friday. Stepanek had to dig deep to overcome Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, and then No. 7-ranked Berdych fought harder than expected to defeat the 135th-ranked Simone Bolelli 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.