The 2013 Davis Cup final opened with a bang on Friday inside Belgrade Arena as Serbia and the Czech Republic went head-to-head in a pair of pivotal singles rubbers.
Serbian superstar and former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic steamrolled the Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek in the opening match, winning comfortably in straight sets to give his side an early 1-0 advantage. The Davis Cup's official Twitter account confirmed the result:
In the evening session, top-ranked Czech Tomas Berdych returned the favor, making short work of the inexperienced Dusan Lajovic to knot the final at one match win apiece.
With Day 1 in the books, the stage is set for a crucial doubles match on Saturday. But first, let's get you up to speed on the latest scores and results from Friday's action.
|Day 1 Scores|
|Rubber No. 1||Score|
|(SRB) Novak Djokovic def. (CZE) Radek Stepanek||7-5, 6-1, 6-4|
|Rubber No. 2||Score|
|(CZE) Tomas Berdych def. (SRB) Dusan Lajovic||6-3, 6-4, 6-3|
Novak Djokovic Powers Serbia to Early Lead
Six-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic, who has now won 23 consecutive singles matches since his gut-wrenching loss in the final of the 2013 U.S. Open, was expected to win big on Friday, and he did just that.
Radek Stepanek, who was the hero for the Czech Republic in last year's final in Prague, played tough in the opening set, challenging Djokovic and nearly forcing a tiebreak. But after suffering a painful 7-5 defeat in the first set, Stepanek was unable to break Djokovic's momentum.
Tennis coach and analyst Darren Cahill was quick to point out Djokovic's sensational form:
The surging Serb would wrap up the match at 6-4 in the third set, much to the delight of the raucous crowd inside Belgrade Arena.
Fans could possibly see Djokovic suited up for Day 2's doubles match but are certain to see him in action again on Day 3 when singles resume. He'll be taking on Berdych on Sunday in what's sure to be the most vital of the four singles rubbers.
Tomas Berdych Draws Czechs Level
Like Djokovic, Tomas Berdych was expected to prevail easily on Friday, and he succeeded, overcoming the buzzing pro-Serbian crowd to defeat the inexperienced Dusan Lajovic in straight sets.
While Lajovic, who is replacing the injured Janko Tipsarevic, was clearly overmatched, you've got to credit Berdych for coming through in a pressure-packed situation. With Djokovic having already won his match, the Czechs were facing a must-win scenario.
Unsurprisingly, Berdych was in control throughout Friday's second rubber and never allowed Lajovic to gain any momentum or confidence, dominating with his powerful forehand and serve.
Overall, there were few surprises on Day 1 in Belgrade. The two best players in the field won convincingly, and it appears that the championship could come down to Saturday's pivotal doubles matchup, which will give one nation a crucial 2-1 lead heading into Sunday's final rubbers.
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