In Sports News this Monday: Good start to year for Czech women tennis players, with Šafářová, Siniaková and the Plíšková sisters all racking up wins in their first matches of 2017; Dakar Rally has 24 Czech participants; Slavia beat Sparta in annual old boys’ game; and Havlát to make dramatic return for Brno?
The year has begun well for several of the country’s top women’s tennis players. On Monday Lucie Šafářová got the new season off to the perfect start with a smooth 6-1 6-2 win over compatriot Denisa Allertová in the first round of the ASB Classic in Auckland. And Šafářová, at one time world number 5 but now 62nd after a difficult 2016, could face another Czech in round two. The 29-year-old will meet Barbora Strýcová if the latter overcomes a qualifier in New Zealand.
Meanwhile Kristýna Plíšková and Kateřina Siniaková have advanced at China’s Shenzhen Open. Plíšková reached the second round after coming from behind to beat Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 1-6 6-3 7-6 on Monday. She will now face China’s Kai-chen Chang. Siniaková, who is 20, beat local favourite Peng Shuai 6-3 7-5 to set up a round two clash with Simona Halep of Romania.
A day earlier the better known Plíšková twin, Karolína, also started 2017 in the best possible way. In her first match under new coach David Kotyza the 2016 US Open finalist and world number six convincingly overcame Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-3 6-1 in Brisbane, racking up 12 aces along the way.
The latest Dakar Rally got underway on Monday, with this year’s race starting in the Paraguayan city of Asuncion. And there are no fewer than 24 Czechs taking part in the 39th edition of the off-road endurance event. Among them are six motorcyclists, four quad bike riders, car driver Martin Prokop and four truck crews. In addition two teams of Czech mechanics are servicing vehicles from other states.
The leading Czech ski jumper Roman Koudelka finished seventeenth in the second event of the Four Hills tournament in Germany’s Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Sunday. That placing equalled his previous best this season. Koudelka, who is 27, failed to pick up any points in Oberstdorf, the first stage of the German-Austrian competition.
The traditional New Year’s Eve football derby between former Sparta and Slavia Prague players ended in victory for the latter. The men from Vršovice ran out 7:3 winners after former Slavia striker Karel Piták bagged a hat-trick in the game at Eden stadium.
Could the domestic ice hockey Extraliga be set for a remarkable comeback? The website iSport.cz is reporting that Martin Havlát is training with Kometa Brno and may take to the ice in the club’s colours. The 2000 world champion, who is 35, last played in the 2015-2016 season, when he turned out for St. Louis Blues in the NHL.
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