The defending champion Czech Republic took a 2-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup semifinals Friday behind singles victories by Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych.
The Czechs are one win from their third final in five years. The winner of the best-of-five series will play Serbia or Canada for the title in November.
Stepanek overcame a sluggish start in the first match, defeating Juan Monaco 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2. Berdych, ranked fifth, followed with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Leonardo Mayer on the fast indoor hard court at O2 Arena.
Argentina was without star player Juan Martin del Potro, who skipped the Davis Cup this season.
Berdych and Stepanek have a 12-1 record in Davis Cup doubles and can wrap up the series Saturday against Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos.
''We are 2-0 up, that's what we wanted. Now, the most important thing is to get ready for the doubles,'' Berdych said.
Berdych looked relieved after he edged his 93rd-ranked opponent in more than three hours. ...