Serbia and the Czech Republic are tied 1-1 in the Davis Cup final after Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych each won their singles matches in straight sets on Friday.

Djokovic got the host Serbians off to a strong start at the Kombank Arena in Belgrade with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 victory over wily veteran Radek Stepanek.

Stepanek made things interesting in the early going, rallying from a service break down to even the first set at 5-5. But the world No. 2's superiority from the baseline gave him too much of an advantage.

"The match started well for both of us ... I tried to be aggressive, he was mixing up the pace and the first set was very close. After that I managed to feel better on the court," Djokovic was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour's Web site.

In the second singles match, Czech world No. 7 Berdych defeated unheralded Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

Serbia was forced to play Lajovic, the world No. 117, because its regular No. 2 singles player, Janko Tipsarevic, was ruled out of the final because of a heel injury.

"Experience was very important," Berdych said. "It's always very tough when you play a player you've never played before on an occasion like today, in a Davis Cup final."

"Everybody expects you to get the point and the other guy has nothing to lose. It was not an easy match, and I'm very happy that I was very solid throughout all the three sets," he added.

Saturday's doubles will pit Berdych and Stepanek against Nenad Zimonjic and either Djokovic or Ilija Bozoljac.

Berdych and Stepanek are a formidable team with a 13-1 Davis Cup record as a duo, but Serbia should put up stiff resistance in the doubles whether or not Djokovic plays.

In Davis Cup quarterfinal action earlier this year, Zimonjic, winner of three doubles Grand Slam titles, and Bozoljac stunned the powerhouse U.S. team of Mike and Bob Bryan in a five-set thriller.

EFE