The three-day 2013 Davis Cup final began Friday, and as expected Serbia and the Czech Republic each won a match to tie the best-of-five series at 1-1. Novak Djokovic defeated Radek Stepanek in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4, to give Serbia a quick 1-0 lead. In the second match of the day, Tomas Berdych responded with a straight-set victory for the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, over Dusan Lajovic.
In front a home crowd at Belgrade Arena, Djokovic, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, won his 23rd straight match since losing to Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open final. He had difficult time conquering his nerves in the first set, however. Stepanek, ranked 44th, broke Djokovic at 5-3, and went on to force an extra game. Djokovic would have no further trouble the rest of the match. He held serve over the final two sets, and broke Stepanek three more times to cruise to a relatively painless victory.
Berdych, ranked No. 7 in the world, also had an easy time. Lajovic, ranked 117th, is playing in the final in place of 36th-ranked Janko Tipsarevic, who was forced to sit due to a heel injury. Lajovic struggled mightily on Berdych's serve, failing to earn a single break point opportunity during the match. Berdych scored on 78 percent of his serves in play, including 87 percent on first serve. He broke Lajovic four times in seven opportunities during the match.
The split result Friday ensures that Sunday's highly anticipated match between Djokovic and Berdych will be the gem everyone hoped it would be. On Saturday, there will be a doubles match between Serbia's Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjiv and the Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol and Jan Hajek. Singles play will resume Sunday, with the compelling match between Djokovic and Berych set for 10 a.m. ET (4 p.m. local).