Champion Czechs, Dutch tied at 1-1 in Davis Cup

3:22 PM, Jan 31, 2014   |    comments
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Ostrava, Czech Republic ( - The reigning two-time champion Czech Republic and visiting Netherlands are all even at 1-1 after Friday's opening singles play in a best-of-five opening-round Davis Cup tie.

The first rubber saw capable Dutchman Robin Haase pop 14 aces in outlasting 35-year-old Czech Davis Cup hero Radek Stepanek, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1, in 3 hours, 39 minutes. Haase broke Stepanek six times, while the Czech veteran settled for only three breaks in a losing effort.

Stepanek clinched both Davis Cup titles for the Czechs in 2012 and last year by winning fifth and deciding rubbers in the previous two World Group finals.

Friday's nightcap in Ostrava was simply a rout, as the Australian Open semifinalist and former Wimbledon runner-up Berdych easily blew past Dutchman Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in 1 hour, 42 minutes on the indoor hardcourt at Cez Arena.

Berdych and Stepanek combined to lead the Czechs to those two straight Davis Cup titles, including a victory over Serbia in last year's finale.

Saturday's doubles in Ostrava currently call for a Czech tandem of Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely to take on a Dutch duo of Thiemo de Bakker and Jean-Julien Rojer, while Sunday's reverse singles pit Berdych against Haase and Stepanek versus Sijsling. Berdych and Stepanek will in all likelihood play together in Saturday's doubles bout.

The mighty Czechs are captained by Jaroslav Navratil, while Jan Siemerink is guiding the Dutch.

The Czech Republic beat the Netherlands 4-1 in a World Group playoff in 2006 in their lone previous meeting. The former Czechoslovakia went 3-1 versus the Dutch from 1925-1978.

The Czech-Dutch winner will face the Canada-Japan victor in a quarterfinal in April.

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