Czech Republic drew level with Spain at the end of the first day of the Davis Cup final after Tomas Berdych secured a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 win over Nicolas Almagro.
A victory for Almagro would have put defending champions Spain on the brink of the title, but Berdych came through a marathon tussle to ensure the opening singles rubbers were split in Prague.
The match was on serve with seven games played before Berdych broke Almagro with a cross-court forehand winner to move 5-3 up. He then closed out the set with an ace.
Almagro took control of the second set by breaking Berdych's serve in the seventh game. The Spaniard successfully held his next two service games to close out the set 6-3.
Berdych responded in style by claiming the first three games of the third set. It was an advantage Almagro failed to claw back, with a backhand volley into the net giving the Czech the set.
The 27-year-old seemed in control of the fourth set after moving 3-1 up, but Almagro levelled at three games apiece as Berdych struggled with his first serve percentage.
A tie-breaker was needed to settle the fourth set and it was Almagro who came out on top forcing a fifth and deciding set. He led 5-0 and 6-3 in the breaker before eventually triumphing courtesy of an ace.
Berdych struck first in the deciding set by breaking his opponent in the sixth game before Almagro pegged him straight back, but the Czech then made it three breaks in a row and this time held his nerve to serve out the win.