Czechs, Serbs tied after stormy Davis Cup clash
PRAGUE — Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic defeated Czech veteran Radek Stepanek 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 9-7 to pull his country level at 1-1 in their Davis Cup quarterfinal on Friday after a stormy, five-hour epic.
Tipsarevic, his country’s top player in the absence of world number one Novak Djokovic, saved three match points before he secured victory.
But the players then refused to shake hands at the net with some media reports suggesting that world number eight Tipsarevic had accused Stepanek of giving him the finger.
TV footage showed a clearly upset Tipsarevic having words with Stepanek before being ushered away by Serb captain Bogdan Obradovic.
Earlier, world number seven Tomas Berdych had breezed past 27-ranked Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in just one hour and 49 minutes in the opening rubber.
“I can’t be happy with 1-1,” Czech team captain Jaroslav Navratil told Czech TV.
“Radek left all he had on the court, he had three match points, he played a fantastic game.”
Navratil named Lukas Rosol and Frantisek Cermak to face Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac in Saturday’s doubles, but changes are more than likely on both sides.
The Czechs usually bank on Berdych and Stepanek for doubles, but Navratil said Stepanek may not be fit after suffering cramping on Friday.
“I can’t speak for him. I’ll wait and see what he will look like tomorrow because the doubles may be the crucial game,” said Navratil.
Stepanek has won two ATP doubles titles with India’s Leander Paes this year — they dominated the Australian Open and then the Miami Masters a week ago.
Berdych is no doubles expert, but he will be fresher after the easy job against Troicki, “a good game from the beginning to the end,” he said.
“I served very well from the start and that was most important. Then I managed to put him under pressure when he served. Then he started to make lots of mistakes,” said Berdych.
“Somehow I managed to do everything I needed,” he added, praising the soft clay at Prague’s O2 Arena.
The teams last clashed in the 2010 Davis Cup semi-finals, which Serbia won before going on to lift their first title ever.
The winners will meet either Argentina or Croatia in September’s semi-finals.