Raonic outlasts Tipsarevic in a marathon to help Canada draw level with Serbia

Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych led holders Czech Republic to a third Davis Cup final in five years after breezing past Argentina's Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos in Saturday's doubles.

Stepanek and Berdych won 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and three minutes to earn an unbeatable 3-0 lead after they had dominated Friday's singles.

The Czechs, who won the 2012 trophy by beating Spain 3-2 in Prague, will travel to either Canada or Serbia for the November 15-17 final.

Pure fantasy

“It's pure fantasy, the guys played at a hundred per cent again,” said team captain Jaroslav Navratil.

“They didn't give the Argentinians a chance, they wiped them out, and we're very happy we can fight for the lovely trophy again after a year,” he added.

“We would like to keep the trophy because it's beautiful,” said Stepanek.

The Czech duo have so far won 13 of their 14 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together since teaming up in 2007, while Berlocq and Zeballos played their debut doubles match in Prague.

Besides, Stepanek, the world No. 5 in doubles rankings, got a boost from the US Open doubles title with Leander Paes a week ago.

Good serving

Pushed on by an emotional crowd of more than 11,000 fans around the superfast hardcourt at Prague's O2 Arena, the Czechs benefited from good serving and Stepanek's dominance at the net.

All they needed was four breaks, one apiece in the first two sets and two in the third.

Berlocq was the first to lose his serve in game eight of the first set, handing the Czechs a 6-3 set win.

He failed again late in the second set which the Czechs won 6-4. Each of the Argentineans then lost their serve in the last set which the Czechs took 6-2.

“We played a great game. Everything was in the right place today, we didn't drop a serve,” said Berdych.

“As long as you are able to make pressure on them, you make chances, and that's what we've done today,” he added, calling the rubber “one of the very good matches together with Radek.”

On Friday, Berdych had beaten world No. 93 Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 after Stepanek had put the host ahead.

Meanwhile in Belgrade, Canada ended the first day of its Davis Cup semifinal with Serbia level on 1-1 as Janko Tipsarevic failed to follow up Novak Djokovic’s opening win.

Montenegro-born Canadian Milos Raonic, the World No. 11, defeated the 23rd-ranked Janko Tipsarevic in a dramatic five-set match 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 10-8. This was Tipsarevic’s ninth singles five-setter while playing for Serbia in the Davis Cup.

Twice ahead

Tipsarevic twice took the lead in the four-hour match, but Raonic tied both times and in the exciting fifth set the two were level until 4-4.

Having won his fifth game, Tipsarevic managed to gain a match point on Raonic’s serve, but failed to capitalise and eventually lost the match in which Raonic served 35 aces in total, 11 of which came in the fifth set alone.

“It’s great to come back from 2-1 down. I was serving really well and that kept me alive,” Raonic said.

However, Serbia’s coach Bogdan Obradovic said: “Tipsarevic has nothing to regret.”

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