Berdych battles past Almagro as Czechs level with Spain in Davis Cup

    Tomas Berdych powered the Czech Republic level in the Davis Cup Final with a five set victory over Nicolas Almagro.

    Story highlights

    • Tomas Berdych beats Nicolas Almagro five sets in Davis Cup final
    • Draws the Czech Republic level with Spain at one rubber apiece
    • David Ferrer beats Radek Stepanek in the opening singles
    • Spain bidding four fourth Davis Cup title in five years
    Tomas Berdych beat Nicolas Almagro in five hard fought sets Friday to draw hosts Czech Republic level with holders Spain after the first day of the 100th Davis Cup final.
    David Ferrer had swept past Radek Stepanek in the opening singles in the 02 Arena in Prague to give the visitors a dream start, but World No.6 Berdych hit back with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-7 6-3 victory in the second rubber of the day.
    Berdych, coming off his appearance in the ATP World Tour Finals where he went out after the group stages, was always favored to beat No 11 Almagro, but needed a shade under four hours to finish the task.
    He held an 8-3 record over him with victories at the Australian and U.S. Opens this year, but Almagro twice came from a set down to force the decider as the home supporters held their breath.
    Both players secured breaks in the fifth set, but it was Berdych who moved ahead again to clinch the decisive victory and leave the centenary final in stalemate.
    "We are one-all, we have opened the chance for Sunday, no matter what happens tomorrow. That's a good step for us," he said.
    Earlier, World No.5 Ferrer was his usual consistent self as he eased past Stepanek 6-3 6-4 6-4 to put the defending champions on their way, with victory in two hours 58 minutes.
    "I played very well all the match. I'm very happy with my game," the 30-year-old Ferrer told the official Davis Cup website.
    On Saturday, Stepanek is set to team up with Berdych to face Spain's ATP World Finals winners Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez
    Spain are bidding to win their fourth title in the most prestigious event in team tennis in five years but are without the injured Rafael Nadal.
    Should the Czechs win they would complete a rare double after their women's team won the Fed Cup in the same arena two weeks ago.