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Tennis: Czechs lead Argentina 2-0 in Davis Cup semis


Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych handed the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead over Argentina in their Davis Cup semi-final here on Friday, bringing the reigning champions to within a point of the final.

Stepanek, the world number 61 and Czech number two, saw off 30th-ranked Argentinian number-one player Juan Monaco 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and 33 minutes in the opening rubber.

And fifth-ranked Berdych then beat world number 93 Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and one minute.

On the superfast acrylic hardcourt of Prague's O2 Arena, where the Czechs lifted the trophy last year after beating Spain 3-2, a dominant Stepanek capitalised on his aggressive style and an improving serve against Monaco.

"I tried to be active all the time, I was on the defensive for a while, then I attacked, took a few risks, so I played what we had set as the tactics," Stepanek said.

"I'm happy with my performance," added the 34-year-old after earning his fifth win from seven games against the 29-year-old Monaco.

Monaco admitted Stepanek was the better man on the court.

"He played so much better than me. I had my chances in the first set but couldn't make it and somehow he figured it out to play better, with more confidence, and the match became difficult for me," he said.

"In the final set I thought I'm going to come back, but he played really well.

"He impressed me a little bit, I knew that he's a good player on this kind of court, but he played really well today," Monaco said.

In their first-ever encounter, Berdych, 27, and Mayer, 26 -- both fast servers -- were tied after two evenly-matched sets, in which they each snatched a late break for a 6-4 win.

But Berdych then produced some more precise play and took early breaks in both of the next two sets, never offering Mayer a way back into the rubber.

The winner of the tie will take on either Canada or Serbia in the November 15-17 final.