In Sports News this Monday: Tomáš Berdych fails to reach Australian Open final; Czech Olympic Committee finalizes nominations for Sochi; Czech women qualify for indoor hockey world cup, and Czech FA objects to UEFA’s planned new rules for international friendlies.
Czech number one Tomáš Berdych achieved his greatest ever placing at the Australian Open, reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne last week. However, the seventh-seeded Czech only won one set against the Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded eighth, losing 3-6 6-7 7-6 7-6. Berdych was unhappy about his performance in the tie breaks, with two double faults costing him the third set. Speaking to reporters after the game, the 28-year-old Czech described the clash with eventual tournament winner Wawrinka as very close.
“I built my tactics and game-plan on my strengths and it was working well but there was one thing that I missed: my service in the first set.
“Other than that, I was able to play aggressively, attacking Stan, especially after his sliced backhands. So the game-plan was working nearly perfectly but the tie breaks are always a lottery, and he was the lucky one today.”
Top Czech female player, Petra Kvitová, was sensationally knocked out in round one of the season-opening Grand Slam, while Lucie Šafářová, seeded 26th, lost to eventual title winner Li Na of China in the fourth round.
Moving on to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the Czech Olympic Committee has finalized nominations for the Czech team. A total of 88 athletes will compete at the games, with bobsledder Jan Stokláska nominated as substitute.
Among the country’s medal hopefuls are the hockey team with stars Jaromír Jágr, Patrik Eliáš and Marek Židlický. A lot is also expected from speed-skating Olympic medal holder Martina Sáblíková, biathlete Gabriela Soukalová, snowboarder Šárka Pančochová and cross-country skier Lukáš Bauer. Downhill skier Šárka Strachová, neé Záhrobská, will be the Czech team’s flag bearer at the games.
Czech women’s indoor hockey team finished fifth at the EuroHockey Indoor Championships held in Prague over the weekend. The Czechs beat England and eventual winners Dutch, drew with Belarus and lost to Germany; their final win over France on Sunday however secured them a spot at next year’s indoor world cup to be held in Leipzig, Germany.
In football, the Czech FA is objecting to a plan considered by European football’s governing body, UEFA, to overhaul the rules for international friendly fixtures. UEFA plans to replace friendlies with a competition called the Nations League, with several divisions; individual national sides would only play those in their own division, and would be promoted and relegated based on their results.
The proposal is designed to spice up the games but the Czechs, along with the FAs of Slovakia, Austria, Poland and Hungary, voiced their objections at a meeting held in Prague last week. The Czech association’s secretary general, Rudolf Řepka, says the plan would benefit the strong and weak football nations.
“The new model considered by UEFA will hardly please everyone. At the moment, it’s the medium-sized football associations which don’t like the new system. But these FAs are the most numerous in Europe.”
Řepka says the five central European associations will raise the issue with UEFA officials next month.