In Sports News this Monday: Federer promotes Laver Cup in Prague; local Smutná wins women’s race in fiftieth edition of Jizerská padesátka cross country skiing race; no win for Koukalová on final day of successful Biathlon World Championships; and abuse of African Sparta player dominates headlines as league returns.
No less a name than Roger Federer made a flying visit to Prague on Monday. The Swiss tennis megastar appeared on the city’s Old Town Square and played on a boat on the Vltava with Tomáš Berdych in an effort to drum up publicity for the new Laver Cup. The competition, which takes place in Prague in September, will pit six European players against their counterparts from around the world. At a news conference, Federer was asked who he would most like to play alongside him in doubles.
“I guess I would love to play with Rafa [Nadal], just because our rivalry has been so special. And I’ve seen his wicked forehand go past me so often that it would be nice to have him on my team and actually admire his forehand and admire his shot-making. I think that would actually be quite special. But the same thing goes for a lot of players at the top who I’ve never had a chance to play with. Tomáš [Berdych] is one of those players – I think we could actually match up very well in doubles. He’s got pure technique, classic playing style, a great serve, a good return. It’s exactly what we need in doubles and maybe that could be a crucial point for Team Europe.”
There was much to cheer for cross country skiing fans on Sunday when the Czech Republic’s own Kateřina Smutná came first in the women’s race in the Jizerská padesátka in the Jizera Mountains in North Bohemia. What’s more, the local woman set a new record of 2:17:34 in the landmark fiftieth edition of the fifty-kilometre race.
Smutná was far from sad after what was her own second victory in the famous race.
“It was a fantastic race from my perspective – I really enjoyed. I’ve trained here since I was a girl and the crowd really spurred me on. I’d like to thank them very much. We may raise a glass but it won’t be a big celebration as I’m leaving on Tuesday and I’ve got to pack.”
Kateřina Smutná’s next destination is the Nordic World Ski Championships. They get underway in Finland’s Lahti on Tuesday and the Czech will be competing in the 10 kilometre classical.
The men’s event at the Jizerská padesátka was won by Morten Eide Pedersen of Norway. The best of the Czech men at the event – which also drew hundreds of amateurs – was Stanislav Řezáč. He finished just under five minutes behind the winner in 13th place. Řezáč, who is 43, said this year’s was one of the fastest editions he had experienced.
“I think it was never under two hours here before, not even when it was shortened. So you can see the standard and this competitive sport of ours is on the up and up.”
Staying with winter sports, and Gabriela Koukalová was unable to finish the Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen with a medal. But the Czech just narrowly missed out on a podium finish after coming fourth in Sunday’s mass start. Nevertheless, Koukalová had an excellent championships overall, taking one gold, one silver and one bronze at the Austrian resort.
The Czech soccer league resumed after the winter break at the weekend and it was pretty much as you were, with leaders Viktoria Plzeň beating Příbram 1:0 and second-placed Sparta Prague overcoming Bohemians 1905 by the same score line. The latter game was dominated by reactions to Sparta’s Ivory Coast forward Tiemoko Konate. The Prague club has been fined in the past for racist chants and their “ultra” fans shouted abuse when Konate’s name was read out before the game. However, other fans vocally supported the African player.