INGLEWOOD, Calif. — For the first time in years, Pete Sampras didn't know what to do on a tennis court, and the result was shocking.

The Czech Republic dealt the United States a severe jolt in Davis Cup on Friday when Jiri Novak swept Sampras 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-2.

"This is a big surprise for us and especially for the U.S. team because they thought after Saturday the match would be over," Novak said.

But the Americans steadied themselves when Andre Agassi, the world's No. 1 player, defeated Slava Dosedel 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to even the best-of-5 World Group quarterfinal at 1-1.

"Who would've thought that Pete would've lost the way that he did? I'm really surprised that happened," U.S. captain John McEnroe said. "We were expected to be up 2-0. We're in a dogfight now."

Saturday's doubles pits Jared Palmer and Alex O'Brien against Novak and David Rikl. Sunday's reverse singles will send Agassi against Novak and, if necessary, Sampras against Dosedel.

"I'm very happy. I think we have a chance tomorrow," Czech captain Jan Kukal said.

This was supposed to be an easy Davis Cup round for the United States. The Americans had Sampras in the lineup after a hip injury forced him out of the opening round in Zimbabwe.

Sampras and Agassi appeared to give McEnroe an unbeatable combination. Now, McEnroe has a far more complicated task on his hands.

"It was a shocking situation. Perhaps I should've expected Novak to play that well, but I didn't foresee that," McEnroe said. "There was a danger of me actually relaxing a little bit if we'd gotten up 2-0, so that was quickly dispelled. They want to make sure I don't sleep a whole lot."

Agassi skipped the introductions, which included fireworks and McEnroe's wife, Patty Smyth, singing the national anthem, in favor of resting at his hotel while Sampras floundered.

"Slava is an explosive player and sort of likes to take you out of your rhythm," Agassi said. "I knew I had to remain solid. I managed to get the break, get the lead, stay in control of the match start to finish."

Agassi said he tried not to think about Sampras' match, going so far as to switch his TV to the Masters golf tournament.

"You can't afford to be the slightest bit off," he said. "You saw today with Pete, it doesn't take much, you're a little off and there's big problems out there."

Sampras' famous serve couldn't bail him out, and his volleys found the net in the worst loss of his seven-year Davis Cup career. He hadn't been in similar trouble since Henri Leconte of France beat him 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 when the United States lost the 1991 Davis Cup final.

"It's been a while since I felt I was getting outplayed like that," said a subdued and shocked Sampras. "Right now I'm trying to figure out why and what happened."

Sampras, the world's No. 3 player, had plenty of chances, but he failed to convert 11 break points on Novak's serve in the 1-hour, 48-minute match. The partisan crowd of 11,206 had little opportunity to wave their American flags and at times sat in stunned silence.

"If I could have converted on one of those break points, I just feel like the match would've gone a little bit more my direction," Sampras said.

Sampras had beaten Novak in five sets in the 1996 U.S. Open in their only other meeting. But he appeared in a fog on the fast indoor hardcourt at the Forum.

"I didn't come through and that I'm sure surprises a lot of people because they expect me to kind of come through any situation and I just didn't have the answers," he said.

McEnroe looked on virtually helpless from his courtside seat. A few times he clapped, but mostly he clasped his hands in his lap and wore a grim expression.

On one changeover, Sampras admitted to McEnroe that he didn't know what to do.