In Sports News this Monday: Berdych powers Czechs into Davis Cup quarter-finals, but will he be around for them?; Czech women to face Spain in Fed Cup without Kvitová; and against odds Štybar becomes world cyclo-cross champion again.
The Czech Republic, winners of tennis’s Davis Cup in 2012 and 2013, have qualified for this year’s quarter-finals after overcoming the Netherlands in Ostrava at the weekend. The hosts fell behind on Friday when Robin Hasse beat Radek Štěpánek, who was inspirational in the last two finals. But then Tomáš Berdych turned things around for the Czechs. He beat Igor Sijsling, triumphed in the doubles alongside Štěpánek, and then dispatched Thiemo De Bakker on Sunday to give the title-holders an unassailable 3:1 lead. The Czechs’ non-playing captain Jaroslav Navrátil said the performances of the Australian Open semi-finalist had made the difference.
“The first two days were really tense. The doubles rubber was key to the victory. I think the only player who stood out was Tomáš Berdych, because he really played great tennis all three days. He has maintained his form from Australia, and he was a class above all the other players.”
In the next round the Czech Republic face a trip to Japan, who have never previously reached the quarter-finals. There has been speculation that Berdych would prefer to focus on his own career and may not make himself available for selection for April’s tie. But the world number seven insists no decision has been made yet.
“When some people have mentioned that it was my last match and asked whether I would bid farewell, I have immediately and resolutely said that nothing of the sort was under consideration. For now, I’m still standing – the situation is still the same, and we’ll see how the whole year develops.”
The Czech Republic’s women’s team will be without Petra Kvitová in their Davis Cup first round tie against Spain next weekend; the world number six is suffering from a virus.
Zdeněk Štybar has for the third time been crowned world cyclo-cross champion. Remarkably, he only decided on Thursday to take part in this year’s World Championships near the Dutch village of Hoogerheide. What’s more, Štybar had to overcome a number of obstacles; he had several beers thrown at him by boisterous fans of his Belgian rival Sven Nijs, fell in the mud on the second last round – and received a poor starting position because he has not concentrated on cyclo-cross in recent seasons, preferring to focus on road racing.
“It cost me a huge amount of energy, because I started in the fourth line. On top of that, some riders in front of me almost fell so I had to brake. I think at the start of the road section I was somewhere in 50th or 60th position. But I succeeded in working my way to the front.”