In Sports News: Czech tennis players Berdych, Záhlavová off to winning start at Australian Open; Czechs suffer disappointing Dakar Rally; goalkeeper Per Čech confident Chelsea are recovering from slump; Hamrlík & Plekanec score for the Canadiens in the NHL; ski jumper Jan Matura clinches best result of career.
Czech tennis player and sixth seed Tomáš Berdych got off to a winning start at the Australian Open on Monday, defeating unseeded Italian opponent Marco Crugnola in straight sets. All the same, the 25-year-old Czech had a bit of a weaker start, allowing his opponent to fight back to 4:4 in the first set, before winning 14 of the next 16 games. The final score was 6:4, 6:0, 6:2.
After the match, here is what he had to say:
“I was maybe overly careful at the beginning of the match – it probably wasn’t the best of starts. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s necessary to pull out all the stops from the very beginning. All in all, I think it was a solid start to the tournament.”
Berdych faces a second unseeded player, Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, next. In other action at the Australian Open, Jan Hájek had no chance against American player Andy Roddick, losing 1:6, 2:6, 2:6. In the women’s competition, Czech player Zuzana Ondrášková lost to Jelena Dokic 3:6, 2:6 while Lucie Hradecká was defeated by Italy’s Alberta Brianti in a closer match that ended 4:6, 5:7. Sandra Záhlavová was successful, though, defeating fellow Czech player Renata Voráčová 6:3, 6:1. But she will face a tough opponent in Venus Williams next.
This year’s Dakar Rally in South America wrapped up at the weekend without Czechs on the podium, after the last Czech hopeful, 2009 winner in the quad category Josef Macháček, was forced out last week. In third place mid-week, the rider suffered a break on his bike – the rear axle – and was forced to withdraw. This year’s Dakar was tough on many Czech racers especially in the trucks category - several vehicles crashed leading to serious injuries.
Aleš Loprais and his crew made a strong effort from the start but were also forced to withdraw over technical difficulties - a broken turbocharger. Incidentally the racer’s uncle, Karel Loprais, now retired, was until this weekend tied with Russian Vladimir Chagin for highest number of all-time wins in the trucks category: six. Chagin is now one better though, winning his seventh title this year.
Star goalkeeper Per Čech has expressed confidence that his side Chelsea in the Premier League are recovering from a slump that had saw the team lose and draw their first two games this year, following an equally lacklustre December. At the weekend the Blues beat Blackburn 2:0 on goals from Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovic – the second clean-sheet in a row for Čech. Last week in their FA Cup match his team demolished Ipswich Town by a score of 7:0. In the Premier League standings, Chelsea are in fourth place – five points behind Arsenal, one point ahead of Tottenham.
Despite allowing a goal just 72-seocnds in Sunday’s NHL game between Ottawa and the Washington Capitals, Caps goalie Michal Neuwirth was able to recover and allow no more for the rest of the game. He stopped 22 shots by the Senators, while his own team clinched the victory by scoring three. Washington are at the top of the Southeast Division.
In other action, Czech players Roman Hamrlík and Tomáš Plekanec scored twice for Montreal and Russian player Andrej Kosticyn once to help the Canadiens defeat the New York Rangers. All three goals came in the first period, within the space of three minutes. Carey Price was then the man of the match by holding back the Rangers for the final 40 minutes; he did allow two goals but the final score was 3:2. The Canadiens are currently in second-place in the Northeast Division – two points behind Boston.
Czech ski jumper Jan Matura has pulled off the best result of his career in a major competition with a fourth place at the world cup event at Sapporo, Japan, on Sunday. The second world cup event of the season was won by Austrian Andreas Kofler. The 30 year old Czech had previously put in some of his best performances in Japan.
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