In Sports News this week: the Czech Republic goes down in defeat at the tennis Davis Cup; Czechs bring home two golds, a silver and a bronze from the European indoor championships; in hockey, the season’s playoff-offs quarterfinals continue; and in football, Sparta narrow the gap behind league leaders Plzeň.
The Czech Republic’s men’s tennis team suffered a stunning upset by Kazachstan in the first round of the Davis Cup in Ostrava over the weekend. The Czechs were tied 1:1 after Friday’s singles when Jan Hájek lost to Andrei Golubev in his first Davis Cup appearance in front of home audience, and Czech number one Tomáš Berdych equalized later that day. On Saturday, the Czechs went ahead after Berdych and Lukáš Dlouhý won the doubles but on Sunday, Berdych, ranked seventh in the world, failed to score the key third point and lost to a superb Golubev 5:7, 7:5, 4:6 and 2:6. After the game, Tomáš Berdych shared his impressions with the Davis Cup website.
“Anyone who saw the match today could see what was happening. For me, it was a lesson in how to play behind the line in maximum speed. Golubev kept his pace throughout the whole match, and I have great respect for him.”
The 2:2 tie was decided in the final singles match on Sunday in which Czech Republic’s Jan Hájek faced Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan. But the 27-year-old Czech, who currently ranks 98th in the ATP chart, only kept up with the Kazakh in the first two sets; in the third, Hájek went down in the tie break and lost the fourth set 6:0. The Czech team’s captain Jaroslav Navrátil said that Radek Štěpánek’s absence had proved crucial.
“What was important for us in this game was that Radek Štěpánek was injured. He is a top player and without him, our number two and three – they are not really up to the same level. But I hope in the qualification playoff in September, our team will be complete again and that we’ll be able to stay in the Davis Cup World Group.”
Turning to track and field now: Team Czech Republic had a very successful appearance at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Paris. Czechs ranked sixth in the nations’ medal count with two golds, one silver and one bronze. On Friday, runner Petr Svoboda took the title in men’s 60 metres hurdles for 7.49 seconds. The 26-year-old has been unbeaten this season, and dominated the charts. Ahead and after the final hurdle, Svoboda stepped out of his lane but his gold was unchallenged in the end. On Saturday, Denisa Rosolová showed a lot of heart in the women’s 400 metres race. She was lagging behind but had an amazing finish to come in first in her personal best 51.73.
Perhaps the greatest performance came from the 36-year-old Czech athlete Roman Šebrle. The Olympic champion and world record holder in the decathlon, Šebrle was leading the heptathlon ranking after the first day of competition. On Sunday, he ranked second ahead of the final 1,000 metres run. In the end, he finished third, winning his sixth European indoor medal in a row.
“I’m absolutely satisfied. The first day was good for me, especially the running events. The second day was good too, but I was little unlucky in long jump and particularly in high jump. But in the end, I scored important points in the 1,000 metres, so I’m really happy. You know, at my age, you have to be happy.”
The Czech medal count was complete with Jaroslav Bába’s silver in high jump.
In the world of Czech hockey, the season’s playoffs quarterfinals continued. Třinec, the best team during the regular season, had a great start into the best-of-seven series against Litvínov. In the first home game, Třinec destroyed Litvínov 6:0, while in the second, the visiting side led 2:0 but then Třinec came back and won the match 3:2. The Liberec White Tigers lost their first home game to Slavia Prague but improved in the second and won 5:1. The quarterfinals continue this week with Zlín pitched against Parudbice, and České Budějovice against Vítkovice
And finally in football, Sparta Prague trails leaders Plzeň by two points after the first two rounds of spring part of the season. On Saturday, Sparta struggled to beat underdogs Příbram 1:0, while Plzeň tied 2:2 with Slovácko after their third goal was disallowed. The two clubs threatened by relegation now include Zbrojovka Brno, which lost 5:0 in Mladá Boleslav, and Ústí nad Labem, beaten 2:1 by Teplice.
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