In Sports News this Monday: Rosol helps Czechs overcome Germany in Davis Cup after Berdych is forced to concede – captain Navrátil says next opponents France will be tough; and Sáblíková crowns dream season with World Championship gold.
The Czech Republic have reached the quarter-finals of tennis’s Davis Cup after overcoming Germany 3:2 in the first round of the competition’s elite World Group at the weekend. But it was far from plain sailing in Hannover, especially when the team’s top player, world number seven Tomáš Berdych, pulled up with a muscle injury in match four against Philipp Kohlschreiber and was forced to concede.
But fortunately Berdych’s teammate Lukáš Rosol, ranked 50th in the world, performed well in the deciding rubber to save the day. Indeed Rosol scored 13 aces and converted half of his 12 break points as he saw off Alexander Zverev 6-2 6-3 6-1.
Now 30, Rosol had perhaps previously been best known for his shock defeat of Rafal Nadal at Wimbledon four years ago. Sunday’s performance was also memorable, but the player poured cold water on the idea that it was the best of his career.
“It was one of my most important matches. But the match of my life? I believe that I’ll eventually have another good one [laughs]. But I’m glad I got the nomination from the captain. It wasn’t clear whether he wouldn’t send on Jirka [Veselý] or Radek [Štěpánek]. To go on with the tie standing at 2:2 on matches was a new role for me. So I’m glad that I added the fifth point – it was important for us, because it means we advance to the next round against France.”
The French will arrive in the Czech Republic for that quarter-finals tie in mid-July. France could at present put together a team solely composed of players from the world top 20, including two, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the top 10.
Czech non-playing captain Jaroslav Navrátil says the visitors should be favourites for that tie in July. However, he added, the home team could be buoyed by the fact that Tomáš Berdych is now just 10 short of equalling Jan Kodeš’s record of 60 Davis Cup appearances for the national team.
“The power is on their side – they have four equally good players. And after Wimbledon is a good date for the tie, in my view… Tomáš has achieved a lot, even though everybody says they don’t want to live on past glories. That’s what Jaromír Jágr says, but he keeps going and keeps reaching new levels. I think Tomáš also has a new level or two ahead of him, which could keep him going in the Davis Cup.”
A dream season has just come to an end for the great Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková. The 28-year-old three-time Olympic winner was not beaten even once at either 3,000 or 5,000 metres and picked up her fourth combined World Championship gold on Sunday. What’s more, before the speed skating season even began she had qualified for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in the road cycling time trial.
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