In Sports News this Monday: a sobering defeat for the Czechs in the Davis Cup; a strong women’s team prepares to face Spain in the Fed Cup; second in Bulgaria and second in World Cup rankings for snowboard cross’s Eva Samková; and in ice hockey, Sparta Prague seek to overturn the Swedes on home ice in the Champions Hockey league final.
We begin with men’s tennis and the rather sobering 1:4 Davis Cup defeat at the hand of Australia over the weekend. It always looked like an uphill climb for the Czechs to get anything out of this first round clash in the absence of top player Tomáš Berdych and Lukáš Rosol and with Radek Štěpánek injured. But the size and manner of the defeat, with Jiří Veselý, picking up the only point for the Czechs and that against a doubles specialist with the tie already decided, was worse than could have been expected. Necomer Jan Sátral lost both his singles encounters and the doubles tie which decided the encounter.
Like other defeated first round countries, the Czechs now face play-offs in September to stay in the top 16 World Group. Non playing captain Jaroslav Navrátil says the Czech team should be something near its full strength for the fight against relegation to the second tier.
“We have provisionally agreed that Tomáš [Berdych] should play in September, which is important. I hope that Radek Štěpánek will not be injured and could be available for either the singles or the doubles. Jiří Veselý, if he’s okay, should also be available for the Davis Cup.”
In the women’s equivalent, the Fed Cup, the Czech team and defending champions face Spain away in the first round tie on February 11 and 12. The Czechs look like they will be at full strength and will be led by world number three Karolína Plíšková and Barbora Strýcová with Lucie Šafářová also available. The Spanish will be missing Carla Suarez Navarro, the world number 14, but still have Garbina Maguruza, the world number seven. The countries have met four times in the Fed Cup before with two wins for each.
In snowboard cross, Eva Samková took second place in the latest world cup race in Bulgaria. But her first place in the world cup rankings has been taking by the winner of the Bansko competition, Australian Belle Brockhoff. After three events, the Australian has a narrow 150 points lead over Samková with 2400 points. The Czech Olympic gold winner from 2014 has plenty of time to close the gap.
Turning to ice hockey, Sparta Prague are making last minute preparations for the final of the Champions Hockey League. They have travelled to Gothenburg, Sweden, to face local team Frolunda playing on home ice for the final on Tuesday night. Frolunda have form on their side as they are the current champions and are looking for a second straight title. And thanks to home advantage they are mostly seen as the narrow favourites. Sparta have yet to win a CHL title after losing finals in both 2000 and 2008. But the Prague team have shown themselves good on the road in the qualifying ties and can look forward to loud support from at least 200 fans who have made the trip by bus.
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