World No. 5 star David Ferrer gave reigning champion Spain a 1-0 lead over the host Czech Republic in the best- of-five 2012 Davis Cup final.
Ferrer handled fellow tour veteran Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on a fast indoor hardcourt at Prague's O2 Arena, where a capacity crowd of 13,000 was on hand.
A long, tight first set on Friday saw Ferrer get a big service break he needed, as he grabbed a 5-3 lead and then consolidated the break with a hold in the next game to capture the 58-minute opening stanza.
An even tighter 68-minute second set saw Ferrer eventually notch another huge break for a 5-4 edge, and he then held in the next game to stun the Czech faithful, as Stepanek fell behind two sets to love.
The third set was basically controlled by Ferrer, who ultimately prevailed in 2 hours, 58 minutes when Stepanek netted one final backhand at the net.
Ferrer outlasted Stepanek in five sets in the 2009 Davis Cup final in Barcelona.
The gritty 30-year-old Ferrer is now 22-4 in his career Davis Cup matches, including an 11-4 record indoors, while Stepanek fell to 11-11 in singles, including a 9-10 indoor mark in the prestigious international event.
The Day-1 nightcap pits sixth-ranked Czech star Tomas Berdych against world No. 11 Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.
Saturday's doubles bout in Prague has a Spanish duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez taking on a Czech duo of Ivo Minar and Lukas Rosol, although most expect to see Berdych and Stepanek teaming up for the hosts on Day 2. Granollers and Lopez are fresh off their surprise title at last week's season- ending ATP World Tour Finals in London, which concluded this past Monday.
Sunday's reverse singles in Prague call for Ferrer to battle the former Wimbledon runner-up Berdych and Almagro to take on the 34-year-old world No. 37 Stepanek.
Spain is playing without injured superstar Rafael Nadal, who has been sidelined with knee problems since June.
The Spaniards are captained by former top-five star Alex Corretja, while the host Czechs are piloted by Jaroslav Navratil.
Five-time champion Spain has won three of the last four Davis Cup titles, including a 5-0 sweep of the Czech Republic in the '09 finale. The former Czechoslovakia captured its lone Davis Cup title in 1980, led by the legendary Ivan Lendl, who was in attendance on Friday.
Spain is 4-2 all-time versus the Czechs, including 2-0 against the Czech Republic. The Spaniards went 2-2 against the former Czechoslovakia in a series that started back in 1931.
The last road team to win the Davis Cup final was Spain in 2008.
Czech women captured a second straight Fed Cup title at O2 Arena two weeks ago.