Spain, Czech Republic split opening day singles
Prague: Tomas Berdych overcame a persevering Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 to get Czech Republic level at 1-1 with reigning champions Spain in the Davis Cup final here.
World No.5 David Ferrer put Spain in the lead with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Radek Stepanek in the opening singles.
Berdych, ranked sixth in the world, rallied in the decider to break back after dropping his serve in the seventh game to stay ahead and beat the Spaniard for the fifth time in their six meetings and with it maintained his unbeaten run in the competition this year.
The victory keeps Czech hopes for their first Davis Cup title alive, while Spain are in the run for their fourth cup win in five years.
Unbeaten in the competition since 2010, Ferrer put the visitors ahead 1-0 in the best-of-five rubber after closing out on his second match point to improve to 22-4 in the Davis Cup.
"I played very well in the match. I`m very happy with my game," Ferrer said just after the rubber.
"We`re 1-0 up, but we haven`t finished the tie, it`s a very long one," he added.
Despite concerns about a very fast hard court prepared by the hosts, Ferrer said he felt comfortable.
"It was very fast but I received very well and this maybe was the key," he added.
Spain are missing world No. 4 Rafael Nadal, sidelined with a knee injury.
Czechoslovakia, which split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, won the Davis Cup in 1980.
But if the Czechs win the 100th edition of the Davis Cup finals, they will clinch a rare team double, last achieved by the US in 1990, after their women`s team lifted the Fed Cup here two weeks ago.