- Czech Republic take 2-1 lead in Davis Cup final in Belgrade
- Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek win crucial doubles
- Serbia rest Novak Djokovic ahead of reverse singles
- Berdych and Stepanek beat Bozoljac and Zimonjic in straight sets
Novak Djokovic sat out the doubles and saw his Serbian team fall 2-1 behind in the Davis Cup final Saturday as the Czech pair of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek outplayed Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic in Belgrade.
Berdych and Stepanek silenced the home crowd to win 6-2 6-4 7-6 in two hours and 12 minutes as the holders took a crucial advantage against Serbia, the 2010 champions.
Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic kept faith with Bozoljac and Zimonjic, who became the oldest man to play in a Davis Cup final at the age of 37, resisting the temptation to field ATP World Tour Finals winner Djokovic.
The home pair had beaten the No.1 ranked Bryan brothers as Serbia beat the United States earlier this year, but failed to repeat that form against a formidable Czech pair.
Berdych and the 34-year-old Stepanek, outstanding on the day, took their record to 14-1 in the Davis Cup and were only threatened in a tense third set, which went to a tiebreak.
They eventually took it 7-4 to leave their fans celebrating wildly in the Belgrade Arena, with Berdych, who plays Djokovic in the first reverse singles Sunday, saying all the pressure was on the World No.2 with his team trailing.
"We just put all the pressure on them and we are in the best possible position after Saturday. I have nothing to lose. It's a huge challenge to play Novak on his own court," he told the official Davis Cup website.
If Djokovic does level the scores at 2-2, Stepanek will face a deciding singles match against inexperienced World No 117 Dusan Lasovic.
"I have full belief in Tomas that he can do it tomorrow. He has a shot. Novak will be under pressure tomorrow," believed Stepanek.
His captain Vladimir Safarik, standing in for the ill Jaroslav Navratil, was overjoyed by their victory. "I am crying. These guys are unbelievable. Their record is amazing. We are 2-1 up and it's just one step tomorrow," he added.
Serbia have been weakened by the loss of key players Janko Tipsarevic, through injury and Viktor Troicki, who is serving a reduced one-year doping ban, but Djokovic, unbeaten in 23 matches since the U.S. Open, will be favorite to level the tie Sunday then hope Lasovic can pull off an upset.