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Czechs cash in on Novak absence

ESPN staff
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Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek sealed a straight sets win in the doubles © Getty Images
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With Serbia opting to rest Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek took full advantage to tip the Davis Cup final in the Czech Republic's favour after a straight sets win in Saturday's doubles.

The pair saw off Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2 6-4 7-6(4) in two hours and 12 minutes to go 2-1 up in the best-of-five encounter.

After wining Friday's opening singles match against Stepanek, Djokovic was given a break ahead of Sunday's fourth rubber against Berdych, which he must win to keep Serbia's hopes alive in Belgrade. He had said he felt "exhausted in every way" earlier this week after retaining his World Tour Finals crown in London - his fourth title in a row.

If Djokovic wins, Serbia's hopes will be pinned on World No.117 Dusan Lajovic, who faces Stepanek in the fifth rubber. Lajovic, 23, lost in straight sets to Berdych on Friday, and was only playing after the late withdrawal of Janko Tipsarevic on Thursday.

"We've put all the pressure on them," said Berdych after the match. "We're in the best possible position. I have nothing to lose, I'm feeling good on court. It's a huge challenge to play Novak in front of his home crowd, in the form he's playing in. I'll do my best and you never know, the match could be long. Or there could be another chance for Radek.

"For the important points we always combined. It's not about one guy, we took our chances and that's what we needed. Winning in straight sets was very helpful."

Stepanek added: "I knew I had a great performance yesterday and took positives from the match. I was ready today. I felt good on court with Tomas by my side. It's a pleasure to play with him. We controlled the match from first to last point.

"I got used to the conditions on Friday, and today we won which was the most important thing. I want to keep doing what I'm doing.

"I have full belief Tomas can perform great [against Djokovic]. Novak is under pressure, he has to make the point. I'm ready, I always have been and always will be. There would be nothing more exciting than to play at 2-2. In case it happens, I'll be ready but we have to wait."

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