In Sports news this week: the Czech Republic’s women’s tennis team beat Slovakia in the first round of the Fed Cup; more action in the Czech hockey extraliga as the play-offs beckon; and in football, Galatasaray’s striker Milan Baroš returns after a two-month injury break.
The Czechs had a two-match advantage going into the second day, and on Sunday, 20-year-old Kvitová overcame feeble resistance from Slovak Daniela Hantuchová, and secured the crucial third point for the Czechs and a spot in the Fed Cup semifinals against Belgium. After the game, Czech number one Kvitová shared her excitement.
“We are very happy to reach the semifinals, it’s great. I played very well, my serve was also good… everything just worked out fine. We will now play Belgium, and it will depend a lot on whether Kim Clijsters will play or not.”
In the remaining dead rubbers, the Czech Republic’s Lucie Šafářová retired from the match against 17-year old Slovak Fed Cup debutante Jana Čepelová with a strained hamstring. In the closing doubles, Slovakia’s Čepelová and Rybáriková beat Czechs Peschkeová and Záhlavová Strýcová to set the final score at 3:2 for the visitors. Czech Fed Cup team captain Petr Pála said his players had held onto their fabulous form from the recent Australian Open.
“The girls maintained their form from Australia. That was very helpful because they won a lot of matches compared to Daniela Hantuchová for instance as we could see she missed a few matches this year and she wasn’t as comfortable on the court as she normally is, so that was an advantage for us.
I also think the surface quite suited us this weekend because I think we were serving and returning better than the Slovaks. We were up in all the three matches from the beginning to the end.”
Turning to hockey now and some exciting extraliga action. With the top division playoffs just round the corner, four clubs still harbour hopes to take the 10th position in the league table and the last spot in the play-offs preliminary round.
HC Plzeň 1929 are close to successfully concluding their amazing run ahead of the playoffs. In November, Plzeň was docked 19 points for failure to register their players correctly and sank to the 12th place with a mere 13 points. On Sunday, Plzeň beat Mladá Boleslav 4:2 and now ranks eighth with 71 points.
Another two contenders, Karlovy Vary and Litvínov clashed on Sunday with the visitors, Vary, beating Litvínov 3:2. The clubs now rank 10th and 9th, respectively. Kometa Brno, on the other hand, seems clueless about how to stop their plummet down the table. In Sunday’s home game against Pardubice, Kometa fell 4:1 in what was the fourth defeat in a row. The Brno team now trails four points adrift of the 10th place, and its play-off prospects are thin.
Staying on the ice, Czech forward Jaromír Jágr, of Avantgard Omsk, scored a hat-trick and two assists in the Kontinental Hockey League’s All-Star Game in St Petersburg on Saturday. Team Jágr overcame Team Yashin, featuring Czech goalie legend Dominik Hašek, 18:16. Three other Czechs featured in the game: Roman Červenka and Lukáš Kašpar, both on Team Jágr, scored two goals and three assists each; Josef Vašíček on Team Yashin hit the net once.
Czech striker Milan Baroš, of Galatasaray Istanbul, returned on Saturday after a two-months break due to a thigh muscle injury. He came on the pitch in the 63rd minute in a home game against Eskisherspor when the home side was ahead 3:2. Nine minutes before the end, the Czech international scored his first goal in the Turkish league since October to wrap up the final score at 4:2 for the hosts.
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