Karolína Plíšková sweeps past Venus Williams in opening match at WTA finals; Kvitová drops out of top 20 for first time in nearly seven years; Plzeň are whopping 11 points clear in league after Slavia lose; latter’s Bořil says they aren’t giving up hope.

Plíšková begins WTA Finals with smooth win over Venus

Karolína Plíšková, photo: CTKKarolína Plíšková, photo: CTK Karolína Plíšková made the perfect start to tennis’s season-ending WTA finals in Singapore, beating Venus Williams 6-2 6-2 in her opening match. Williams offered little resistance to Plíšková, who was just seven years old the first time the American took part in the elite, eight-player competition.

Plíšková said Sunday’s win set her up well for the tournament.

“It could hardly have been a better start, I don’t think. I’m not going to look at how I played – it’s just always good to start with a win. Then anything is possible. In recent years sometimes one victory has been enough to get out of the group so it’s important that I have a win. After that, it’s open.”

Plíšková next faces Garbine Muguruza of Spain, on Tuesday.

Kvitová slips out of top 20 after nearly seven years

Petra Kvitová, photo: Filip JandourekPetra Kvitová, photo: Filip Jandourek Petra Kvitová has fallen out of the top 20 in the women’s tennis world rankings for the first time in almost seven years, tumbling 12 places to 29th. Kvitová was out of action for five months this year after suffering an horrific hand injury in an attack at her home last December. She is now the third ranking Czech woman, behind world number three Karolína Plíšková and Barbora Strýcová, who is now in 23rd.

Leaders Plzeň now further ahead after Slavia lose

Viktoria Plzeň have racked up yet another win in the Czech soccer league, this time 3:0 away at Brno, for a maximum 33 points from 11 games so far this season. The West Bohemians had Sunday’s game wrapped up early, with all of their goals coming between the 30th minute and the half-time whistle.

Midfielder Tomáš Hořava scored Plzeň’s second goal.

“Brno played well for 20 or 25 minutes, I think. They didn’t give us any chances. But then they made a couple of errors in defence, and we began to offer more and made some penetrating passes. So those 15 minutes were very good from our perspective – and they decided the game.”

Tomáš Hořava, photo: CTKTomáš Hořava, photo: CTK Though we are just over a third of the way through the season, it is becoming ever harder to conceive of Plzeň being overtaken at the top of the table, especially after the defending champions, second-placed Slavia Prague, suffered their first league defeat in over 12 months – and first ever defeat under manager Jaroslav Šilhavý.

Despite now being a full 11 points behind the leaders, Slavia defender Jan Bořil said he and his teammates wouldn’t be getting despondent any time soon.

“That happens in football. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. A year ago nobody fancied us and we won the title. So we definitely don’t want to say we don’t have what it takes.”