In Sports News this Monday: Berdych wins first title of year in Shenzhen; Czech women flop at China Open; Sparta and Plzeň both score four to stay tied at top of soccer league; Plzeň lead hockey Extraliga; and Blažek quits as coach of women’s basketball team.
The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has picked up his first title of 2015 at the Shenzhen Open in China. The top seed overcame Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3 7-6 in the final, which did not take place until Monday because of heavy rains. It is Berdych’s 11th career ATP title, which moves him up to third in the Czech all-time trophies table. The 30-year-old may well overcome Karel Nováček, with 13, but he has zero chance of overtaking Ivan Lendl, who won no fewer than 94 titles.
Berdych’s female compatriots have been faring less well in the globe’s most populous country. World number four Petra Kvitová, Karolína Plíšková and Barbora Strýcová all exited in the first round of the China Open in Beijing on Sunday.
In the Czech soccer league Sparta Prague and Viktoria Plzeň remain level at the top of the table with 20 points apiece after the eighth round. Sparta overcame Slovácko 4:0 in the capital, with two of their goals coming from Nigerian midfielder Kehinde Fatai, for three strikes in his first two appearances. For their part Plzeň overcame Jihlava 4:2 on the road. Elsewhere, third-placed Slovan Liberec – fresh from an away Europa League win over Marseilles – beat Bohemians 1905 3:1 in the capital and Slavia drew 1:1 with Dukla in a Prague derby.
National team coach Pavel Vrba has called up defender Tomáš Kalas from English championship side Middlesbrough in place of the injured Mario Holek of Sparta for a brace of Euro 2016 qualifiers. The Czechs travel to Turkey and Holland in the next eight days having already qualified for the tournament in France.
Striker Tomáš Necid didn’t set the world on fire in six years at CSKA Moscow, but he may have found his level in Turkey. Now 26, Necid scored a hat-trick for Bursaspor at the weekend to take his tally to six strikes in seven rounds. This leaves the rangy Czech ahead of such stars as Samuel E’to and Robin Van Persie in terms of goals scored so far this season.
Plzeň are top of ice hockey’s domestic Extraliga after eight rounds. The West Bohemians overcame Hradec Králové 6:2 on Sunday to stay one point ahead of Liberec, who came from behind to beat Chomutov, managed by Vladmír Růžička, 3:2 after penalties. Třinec defeated Litvínov 4:1, extracting some revenge for last season’s final. And in perhaps the most closely watched game of the round, Sparta Prague beat Kometa Brno 5:3.
Lubor Blažek has announced he is stepping down as coach of the Czech women’s basketball team after six years in the job. His greatest success at the helm was taking the Czech ladies to the final of the world championships, held in the Czech Republic, in 2010. He will be replaced on the bench by Ivan Beneš, with whom he has worked closely for almost a decade and a half.
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