In Sports News this Monday: Czechs beat Argentina to reach Davis Cup finals; in football, Plzeň controversially beats Sparta Prague in Gambrinus Liga; Czech hockey fans look forward to NHL stars coming home to play during lockout; and in athletics, Olympic javelin champion Barbora Špotáková returns to her roots and stets her new personal best in heptathlon.
The Czech Republic beat Argentina to reach the final of the Davis Cup, for the second time in four years. The Czechs, who played Argentina on clay in Buenos Aires, did not have a good start into the tie when Radek Štěpánek lost to Juan Martín Del Potro 6:4, 6:4, 6:2 on Friday. In the second singles match, however, Czech number one Tomáš Berdych defeated Argentine’s Juan Monaco 1:6, 6:4, 6:1, 4:6 and 4:6. In Saturday’s doubles, Berdych and Štepánek scored another point for the Czechs and on Sunday, Tomáš Berdych won the decisive third point when he beat Carlos Berlocq, who filled in for injured Del Potro, 6:3, 6:3, 6:4.
The key man behind the Czech success, Tomáš Berdych, told reporters from the Davis Cup website his recent run at the US Open helped a lot.
“From my perspective, I was feeling really well, coming from the US where I played the semifinal there, beating Roger Federer and playing a close match against Andy Murray who won the US Open. So I felt really good, and wanted to show here that my game was really on top, and I did it: I won my singles, I got a half-point in the doubles, and that’s it. That’s what we needed.”
The Czechs will meet Spain in the Davis Cup final, scheduled in Prague in November, and will have a chance to avenge the 2009 loss to the Spaniard. The country only won the Davis Cup once – in 1980 as Czechoslovakia – and Tomáš Berdych sees some striking similarities.
“I will only say this: in that year, those 32 years ago, Czechoslovakia beat Argentina in Argentina and then they played at home. That’s all.”
Moving on to hockey now where Czech fans are looking forward to their favourite stars from the NHL coming home due to the lockout. Kladno has confirmed that Jaromír Jágr, of the Dallas Stars, and Tomáš Plekanec, of the Montreal Canadiens, will join the team as soon as the paperwork is processed, and could in fact first appear in Wednesday game against Slavia. Online ticket sales have stalled upon the news.
For their part, Slavia Prague is ready to welcome forwards Roman Červenka of the Calgary Flames and Vladimír Sobotka of the St. Louis Blues while Aleš Hemský of the Edmonton Oilers will join Pardubice. Other NHL players are likely to come back home during the lockout as well which will substantially increase the numbers of spectators at extraliga games.
In the top football Czech division, last season’s runners-up Sparta Prague clashed with Viktoria Plzeň, which finished third last year, in the highlight of the Gambrinus Liga’s seventh round. The hosts Plzeň won 1:0 thanks to a controversial penalty awarded for an alleged foul by one of Sparta’s defenders against Plzeň’s David Limberský. Sparta complained that minutes before, the referee did not award the visitors a penalty kick in a similar situation, and also overlooked another alleged foul against a Sparta player in the penalty area. Sparta management was considering withdrawing the team from the second half of the game but eventually decided to complete the match, and filed a formal protest instead.
Thanks to the win, Viktoria Plzeň moved up to the top of the league table ahead of Sparta in second place and Jablonec in third place.
After a ten-year span, two-time Olympic winner in women’s javelin Barbora Špotáková returned to her beginnings when she took part in a heptathlon event in France over the weekend. The Czech javelin star, who began her career in heptathlon and finished fourth at the 2000 World Junior Athletic Championships, said she wanted to try her heptathlon to break her training routine.
“I don’t really practice the other disciplines; sometimes I try something but if you knew how to do something, it stays with you. I run a lot, 200 and 300 metres but not in a competition, not when they fire a pistol behind your back. I am also not use to starting blocks, which was always my problem.”
At the heptathlon event in France, Barbora Špotáková finished sixth out of seven athletes who completed the race. But she set her new personal best of 5,800 points, and even set a new javelin heptathlon world best of 60.9 metres.