Stepanek gives Czechs 1-0 lead against Serbia
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Radek Stepanek fought back from a set down to beat Viktor Troicki 4-6 6-2 6-4 6-4 and give the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Serbia in their Davis Cup semi-final Friday.
Troicki, who stood in for Novak Djokovic after the world number two pulled out of the opening singles rubber with gastro-enteritis, was thoroughly outplayed by Stepanek after winning the opening set.
Roared on by a small band of vociferous Czech fans among 15,000 home supporters in the Belgrade Arena, Stepanek tormented his rival with a series of forehand winners and sliced dropshots.
Stepanek converted five of his seven break points and 24 of his 29 net points, while Troicki made 50 unforced errors, including a wide backhand down the line which handed Stepanek victory after three hours.
Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic faces Tomas Berdych in the second singles rubber later Friday.
Djokovic, who was exhausted on arrival in Belgrade from New York late Wednesday after losing the U.S. Open final to Rafael Nadal, said he hoped to be fit for Saturday's doubles.
"If the result on the opening day doesn't go our way I might play in the doubles but I will definitely be fit for Sunday's reverse singles," the world number two told Serbian television.
"I trained Thursday but didn't feel well... (so) I decided to pull out of Friday's match with Stepanek," he said.
The Czechs are chasing their second successive final after losing to Spain last year while Serbia are aiming for their first after reaching the competition's top tier for the first time in 2008.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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