Czechs open Davis Cup title defense in Switzerland

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Tomas Berdych, of the Czech Republic returns a ball during a training session prior to the Davis Cup World Group first round match between Switzerland and Czech Republic, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. The Davis Cup first round Switzerland against Czech Republic will take place from Feb.y 1 to Feb. 3. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)


GENEVA (AP) — The Davis Cup champion Czech Republic begins defending its title on Friday when Lukas Rosol opens against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.

Czech No. 1 Tomas Berdych follows on the indoor hard-court against Swiss recruit Henri Laaksonen, who switched eligibility after representing Finland.

Swiss star Roger Federer is skipping the series and Czech veteran Radek Stepanek is sidelined by injury.

Berdych and Stepanek played all five matches when the Czechs beat Spain 3-2 in the final last November in Prague.

Nineteen-year-old left-hander Jiri Vesely should make his Davis Cup debut in Saturday's doubles, partnering Ivo Minar against Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli.

The marquee match between 17th-ranked Wawrinka, who lost an epic five-setter to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, and sixth-ranked Berdych would be early singles match on Sunday.