OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (AP) - Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek won the doubles for the defending champion Czech Republic to take a 2-1 lead over the Netherlands in the Davis Cup first round on Saturday.
The Czechs defeated Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) in almost four hours on an indoor hard court at CEZ Arena to improve to a 15-1 record in the cup doubles.
The Dutch were trailing 2-0 in the fourth set before coming back and saving three break points at 5-5 after Haase double-faulted twice but the home pair converted their second match point in the tiebreaker with Haase sending a volley too long.
“It was the toughest game we have played,” Berdych said. “It was extremely hard for us. They were excellent.”
It was the first defeat in the cup doubles for Haase and Rojer following four victories.
“We had our chances but our opponents were unbelievable,” Stepanek said “We had to fight till the end.”
The Czechs, seeking their third straight Davis Cup title, are one win away from the quarterfinals while the Dutch must win both reverse singles on Sunday to reach the quarters for the first time since 2005.
On Sunday, Berdych plays Haase then Stepanek faces Igor Sijsling.
The winner of the best-of-five series will face either Canada or Japan in April.
Berdych and Stepanek saved five set points in the 10th game of the opening set before they broke Haase, and Stepanek served the set out. The Dutch pair wasted 10 break opportunities in the set.
In the second set, Stepanek failed to hold his serve in the fourth game and Berdych double-faulted to do likewise, allowing the Dutch to race to a commanding 5-1 lead. Haase hit an ace on the first set point.
Berdych was broken again in the seventh game of the third set when his forehand volley hit the net but the Dutch let the Czechs come back after wasting three set points and Haase failed to serve the set out in the 10th game.
The Dutch still forced a tiebreaker after saving three set points. Haase became furious when the Czechs jumped to 4-1 for no clear reason, hitting the net three times with his racket before the Czechs prevailed 7-2 with Berdych’s backhand volley winner.
Berdych had to be treated for a back problem when trailing 5-4 in the third set but said it was not serious.
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