Tennis: Rosol, Stepanek lead Czechs against Japan

Lukas Rosol and Radek Stepanek will spearhead holders the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Japan on April 4-6 as number-one Tomas Berdych is unavailable, the Czech team said Tuesday.

Rosol, the world number 38, and 49th-ranked Stepanek will team up with 73rd-ranked Jiri Vesely and 115th-ranked Jan Hajek for the tie on the hardcourt of the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo.

After leading the Czechs to two consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013 together with Stepanek, world number seven Berdych said he would skip the quarter-finals following the Czechs' first-round victory over the Netherlands in February.

Apart from Berdych and the nominated quartet, "we practically have no other players," team captain Jaroslav Navratil said on the Czech Davis Cup team's Facebook page.

"The guys' form has improved since the beginning of the year," added Navratil, suggesting Rosol would be the Czech number one against Japan, who will depend on 21st-ranked Kei Nishikori.

"The important thing will be to be at 1-1 after day one, but Saturday's doubles will be the key to victory," Navratil said.

Stepanek, the world number eight in doubles, has lost only one of 16 Davis Cup doubles rubbers when playing with Berdych.

In Japan, he is likely to team up with Rosol, who is ranked 59th in doubles.