Radek Stepanek gave holders Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup semifinals here on Friday, after breezing past Juan Monaco in straight sets in the opening rubber. Stepanek, the world number 61 and Czech number two, needed two hours and 33 minutes to see off 30th-ranked Monaco, Argentina’s number one, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2.
On the superfast acrylic hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena, where the Czechs lifted the trophy last year after beating Spain 3-2, Stepanek took the first set in a tie-break following two breaks apiece. In the second set, Monaco, glued to the baseline most of the time, came back from 3-0 down, but Stepanek capitalised on his own aggressive style and an improved serve to win 6-3.
Increasingly aggressive at the net, Stepanek then took the third set easily, giving up only two games to earn his fifth win from seven encounters with Monaco.
Djokovic draws first blood for Serbia
Belgrade: Serbia took a 1-0 lead over Canada in their Davis Cup semi-final after Novak Djokovic beat Vasek Pospisil 6-2 6-0 6-4 in the opening singles rubber on Friday.
Roared on by a partisan home crowd in the Belgrade Arena, world number one Djokovic, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the US Open final, strolled to victory in one hour and 44 minutes to put 2010 winners Serbia in the driving seat.