Berdych brings Czechs even with Swiss

Stanislas Wawrinka advanced to the Grand Hassan II semifinals. (AP)
February 1, 2013, 11:47 AM

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

GENEVA — Tomas Berdych won his match Friday to bring defending champion Czech Republic level at 1-1 against Switzerland after the opening singles of their first-round series.

The sixth-ranked Berdych eased to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-1 victory over 289th-ranked Henri Laaksonen on an indoor hardcourt at Palexpo Arena.

Earlier, Swiss team leader Stanislas Wawrinka beat Lukas Rosol 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

Roger Federer is skipping the best-of-five series, while Czech veteran Radek Stepanek is sidelined by injury.

Berdych was unexpectedly stretched to a fourth set by the 20-year-old Laaksonen, a Davis Cup debutant for his adopted country after playing for Finland four years ago.

Wawrinka, ranked No. 17, fell behind midway through the first set against the 73rd-ranked Rosol, but broke straight back and was seldom threatened thereafter.

In Saturday’s doubles, Wawrinka, the 2008 Olympic champion with Federer, will partner Marco Chiudinelli against Ivo Minar and Jiri Vesely.

The marquee match between Wawrinka and Berdych is scheduled to open the reverse singles on Sunday.

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