BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) -- Novak Djokovic overcame a nervous start to beat Radek Stepanek in straight sets Friday to give Serbia a 1-0 lead over defending champion Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final.
Djokovic won 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 on an indoor hard court at Belgrade Arena for his 23rd consecutive victory since losing to Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open final in September.
The Czechs' top player Tomas Berdych plays Serbian rookie Dusan Lajovic in the second singles Friday. The 117th-ranked Serb is replacing Janko Tipsarevic, who missed the final best-of-five series with a heel injury.
The Czechs are in the final for the third time in five years. Serbia won its only Davis Cup title in Belgrade in 2010, beating France.