Tomas Berdych drew the Czech Republic level with Spain 1-1 in the Davis Cup final heading into Saturday's doubles, winning an up-and-down match against Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.
Almagro lost the first set of Friday's match, played on an indoor hard court at Prague's O2 Arena, after dropping his serve in the sixth game. But he found his highest level in the second set, putting 83 percent of his first serves in play and hurting the Czech with precise crosscourt ground strokes.
The world No. 6 then stormed back to take the third set and grab a break of serve at the start of the fourth set, but the 11th-ranked Almagro broke back in the sixth game with a jaw-dropping crosscourt backhand and the set eventually came down to a tiebreaker, which the Spaniard won 7-5.
Tensions flared with Almagro leading 5-4 in that set when the players nearly collided with each other on the changeover, although finally Berdych moved out of the way.
Almagro jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the tiebreaker but had to sweat to the very end, finally tying the match at two sets apiece with his 14th ace.
The fifth set featured three service breaks, the last coming in the eighth game as Berdych finally took the decisive edge and then served out the contest in just under four hours to tie the Davis Cup final 1-1.
"It's our first point and that's all. I'm extremely happy for that," Berdych said of the crucial victory for the Czech side.
"To play with this crowd on my back is an amazing feeling. I was enjoying everything on court ... I think that the human body is a really strong engine. I will give everything I have. I just need to get ready again. Tomorrow is another day."
Earlier Friday, Spain's No. 1 singles player, David Ferrer, cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Radek Stepanek.
Despite his win, Berdych faces a tough climb ahead as he will pair with Stepanek in Saturday's doubles against Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez and then take on Ferrer in what could be a grueling singles match on Sunday.
Spain is seeking its sixth Davis Cup championship, with all of the previous five coming between 2000 and 2011. The Czechs' only title in tennis' premier international team competition came in 1980, when Ivan Lendl led Czechoslovakia to a 4-1 victory over Italy in the final in Prague. EFE