Davis Cup - Czech Republic lead Spain in Davis Cup final

Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych gave the Czech Republic a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup final when they beat the Spanish duo of Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers 3-6 7-5 7-5 6-3 in the doubles rubber in Prague.

After splitting the opening singles rubbers on day one at the O2 Arena in the Czech capital, Stepanek and Berdych came in to replace the nominated duo of Ivo Minar and Lukas Rosol and take on the experienced Spanish duo of Lopez and Granollers.

The result leaves the hosts in the driving seat heading into Sunday’s reverse singles, when Berdych will take on David Ferrer and Stepanek will face Nicolas Almagro.

Spain, without the injured Rafa Nadal, are bidding for a fourth Davis Cup crown in five years, while the Czechs are aiming to become the first country in 22 years to win men's and women's team titles in the same season.

The Czech duo took some time to settle into their rhythm and quickly found themselves trailing by a break after just two games, Granollers producing a beautiful lob and unreturnable forehand combination.

In spite of Berdych’s late finish to the season, he was involved in the season-ending championships in London, it was actually Stepanek who looked the more sluggish of the two Czech players, slapping down a double fault in the process of dropping his serve.

Lopez and Granollers not only took full advantage of their opponents indifferent start but also made their extensive doubles experience tell as they raced through back-to-back love service holds before taking the first set when Granollers held with a dipping forehand winner.

But the rest of the match was all about the Czech duo as they slowly but surely made brought the home crowd into the match and made their superior singles experience count.

With Berdych serving first for the Czechs from the second set onwards, they began to target Granollers in particular as they forced their way back into the match.

A poached forehand volley long from Granollers in the fourth game of the second set handed the Czech duo a break at their very first attempt and although they were immediately broken back, they retained the momentum deep into the set.

And just when it looked as though the set was heading towards a tie-break, Granollers broke down. Back-to-back forehands into the net from the Spaniard handed the Czech Republic three set points. Granollers made amends to save the first while Lopez stepped up to save the second and third but there was nothing they could do when Stepanek earned his team a fourth.

And this time the Czechs did level the match, Stepanek again stepping up and finding a forehand winner to seal it.

The third set followed much the same template, albeit without the early exchange of breaks, as the Spanish duo stuck with the Czech Republic only to lose their way in the 12th game, as the hosts broke to take the set and also the lead for the first time.

Granollers began to look increasingly frustrated as the fourth set progressed, the Czech duo continuing to target him as the weaker of their two opponents.

And so it proved, Granollers putting first a forehand and then a backhand into the net to hand the Czech Republic three break points in the sixth game of the set. Only the one was needed, however, when yet another Granollers shot ended up in the bottom of the net.

From there, the match was only going to end one way, as Stepanek and Berdych marched their way towards to 2-1 lead in the final, the world number six serving out in the ninth game with an emphatic forehand smash winner.