Stepanek, Monaco to open Davis Cup semi-final
Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic plays a forehand next to his partner Leander Paes of India during their men's doubles semi-final match against Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan of the United States of America on Day Eleven of the 2013 US Open on September 5, 2013 in New York City.
Stepanek, the world number 61 and the Czech number two, will face Argentina's number-one player, the 30th-ranked Monaco, at Prague's O2 Arena at 1300 GMT on Friday.
After that rubber, fifth-ranked Tomas Berdych will face world number 93 Leonardo Mayer on the superfast acrylic hardcourt, on which the Czechs won last year's finals against Spain.
"We have played lots of games against each other, he plays great tennis from the baseline," the 34-year-old Stepanek told reporters after the draw on Thursday.
"I'll try to use the surface, to take advantage of it."
On Saturday, the Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely and Lukas Rosol are due to face Argentina's Horacio Zeballos and Carlos Berlocq.
But the Czechs are likely to change their doubles duo and rely on Berdych and Stepanek, who have so far only lost one of 13 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together since teaming up in 2007.
The winner of the tie will take on either Canada or Serbia in the November 15-17 finals.
The two teams last clashed last year when the Czechs beat Argentina 3-2 in the semi-finals in Buenos Aires, before lifting the trophy after a 3-2 final win against Spain.
Argentina captain Martin Jaite has shunned world number 45 Berlocq for the singles, while his Czech counterpart is likely to rest out-of-form 46th-ranked Rosol.
"We have four very good players but we decided on Leo. We're sure Leo will play very well on Friday," said Jaite.
Berdych said he was not surprised by the choice as Mayer is good on hard surfaces.
"He has a great serve, he tries to play aggressively," said Berdych.
"But I'll focus on myself. I need to win three sets and that's it."
Argentina are missing their top star Juan Martin Del Potro, who is taking a break from the competition this year, as well as an injured David Nalbandian, who has won both Davis Cup doubles so far this year with Zeballos.
The 2012 Davis Cup triumph was the first for the Czechs since Czechoslovakia, which split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, won the trophy in 1980 with a team led by a 20-year-old Ivan Lendl.
Argentina, who have played three finals in the last seven years, are still seeking their first Davis Cup trophy.