In Sports News this Monday: Czechs ease past Japan to take step closer to historic third consecutive Davis Cup title – Rosol says playing as favourites isn’t easy while Veselý revels in first win in tournament; and Sparta stay eight points clear despite penalty controversy.
Reigning champions the Czech Republic have advanced to the semi-finals of the Davis Cup. The Czechs eased past Japan in Tokyo, taking an unassailable 3:0 lead in the best-of-five tie with victory in Saturday’s doubles rubber.
In the absence of Tomáš Berdych, Radek Štěpánek’s partner was Lukáš Rosol and the pair clinically dispatched Tatsuma Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-4 6-4 6-4 to progress.
The Japanese team were relatively inexperienced and lacked star names. However, that didn’t mean it was a walk in the park for the Czechs, Rosol told Czech Radio.
“Nobody expected that it’d be over on Saturday. That’s incredible for us. It’s not easy to play repeatedly in the Davis Cup as favourites, because players who are low in the rankings are still strong enough to give our players a real match. They battle and play better than in other tournaments. They’re playing for the country and that’s an honour for them, especially in front of their own fans.”
The Czechs eventually ran out 5:0 winners after Rosol and Jiří Veselý showed no mercy in Sunday’s dead singles rubbers. Veselý, who is 20, overcame Taro Daniel 6-4 6-4 for the first Davis Cup win of his career.
“It’s a beautiful feeling. I’d say it’s another dream that I’ve fulfilled, winning my first Davis Cup match. The first is always the sweetest and the most important. I really felt very relaxed here this week. I believed that if I played, I’d perform well – and I think that was confirmed today.”
The Czechs will play host to France in the semi-finals in September, with non-playing captain Jaroslav Navrátil saying he hopes Berdych will return for that tie. If his charges were to go on and lift the title for the third year in a row, it would be the first such hat-trick since the US won the third of five in a row back in 1970.
It’s a case of as-was in Czech soccer’s top flight after the weekend’s action. Leaders Sparta Prague are still eight points clear after grinding out a 1:0 away win over Slovácko thanks to a Ladislav Krejčí strike. However, there was controversy after the match, when the head of the Czech league’s referees, Dagmar Damková, told reporters that a penalty should have been awarded to Slovácko for a handball by Sparta’s Josef Hušbauer when defending a free kick.
Viktoria Plzeň are still second after a 3:0 victory over Dukla in the capital. Meanwhile, Baník Ostrava and Bohemians 1905 remain in the two relegation spots with 19 points each after both suffered defeat. Just above them are Slavia Prague with 22 points and a game in hand.
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