Advantage Spain and Czech Republic in Davis Cup

The Czech Republic and Spain both have one foot in the Davis Cup final after opening up 2-0 leads in their respective semi-final matches yesterday.

The Czechs moved into a strong position against Croatia in Porec after Radek Stepanek emerged victorious in a titanic battle with Ivo Karlovic.

Karlovic sent down a world record 78 aces in a match that lasted a minute under six hours but could not see off the dogged Stepanek, who prevailed 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (2/7) 16-14 having seen off five match points.

Tomas Berdych then defeated Marin Cilic 6-3 6-3 3-6 4-6 6-3 to put the Czechs firmly in the driving seat.

Defending champions Spain comfortably had the better of the opening day against Israel in Torre Pacheco.

The hosts opened an expected 1-0 lead when David Ferrer beat Harel Levy 6-1 6-4 6-3 while Juan Carlos Ferrero won the second singles rubber, seeing off Dudi Sela 6-4 6-2 6-0.

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