Czechs, Djokovic-less Serbs split opening singles

Tomas Berdych and Janko Tipsarevic were Friday's opening singles winners, as the Czech Republic and Serbia each picked up a point in a best-of-five Davis Cup quarterfinal.

The world No. 7 Berdych gave the Czechs a 1-0 lead by blitzing the visitors' Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in a mere 1 hour, 49 minutes on red clay at Prague's O2 Arena. Berdych piled up seven service breaks in the rout, while the helpless Troicki settled for zero.

In the marathon Day-1 nightcap, the world No. 8 Serbian star Tipsarevic and 24th-ranked Radek Stepanek played for 5 hours, 7 minutes before the Serb came out on top 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 9-7. Tipsarevic tallied just one more break (7-6) than the disappointed Stepanek in the grueling affair.

Stepanek lost despite striking 22 more winners (72-50), as he also piled up 34 more unforced errors (100-66).

Saturday's pivotal doubles call for a Czech tandem of Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Rosol to battle a Serbian pairing of Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic, while Sunday's reverse singles pit the former Wimbledon runner- up Berdych against Tipsarevic and Stepanek versus Troicki, who won a fifth and deciding rubber against France to lift the Serbs to their first-ever Davis Cup title two years ago.

The Czechs are captained by Jaroslav Navratil, while team Serbia is led by Bogdan Obradovic. The Serbs edged out the Czech Republic 3-2 in a semifinal in Belgrade two years ago.

Serbia is playing without world No. 1 superstar Novak Djokovic, who also skipped an opening-round affair against Sweden back in February.

The winner here will take on the Argentina-Croatia victor in a semifinal in September.