Sports News

Bohdan Ulihrach

Bohdan Ulihrach loses a five-set epic as the Czechs go out of the Davis Cup to France. Vitkovice cause an upset by beating favourites Sparta Prague at home in the first game of the ice hockey Extraliga final play-offs. And in football Sparta Prague sack their manager a day before drawing with Slavia in the big Prague derby. Ian Willoughby has all that and more in the sports news.

Czechs come close in Davis Cup quarter-final clash with France

Bohdan Ulihrach,  photo CTK
The Czech Republic's Davis Cup quarter-final clash with defending champions France went right down to the wire on Sunday, with France going through after Bohdan Ulihrach lost to Fabrice Santoro in an exciting five-set epic. Ulihrach started badly, losing the first two sets, but fought back gamely to win the next two. The Czech Republic's dreams of reaching the Davis Cup semis were dashed in the last set however, when Santoro kept his composure and Ulihrach lost his. The final score 7-6 (2) 7-5 3-6 4-6 6-3.

That was Ulihrach's second defeat of the weekend. His teammate Jiri Novak fared better, beating both Nicolas Escude and Sebastien Grosjean. In the doubles, Novak and David Rikl were beaten in three sets by Santoro and Mickael Llodra. Novak and Rikl were a successful doubles partnership for some time but have not been playing well together since the beginning of the year - there has been some speculation that they will dissolve their partnership.

In women's tennis, Daniela Bedanova of the Czech Republic had to pull out of the Sarasota tournament on Thursday with a wrist injury. It's not clear how long Bedanova, who is 26, will be out of action, and there is a slight worry that she will miss the start of the Fed Cup at the end of the month, when the Czechs take on Croatia.

Vitkovice off to good start in Extraliga play-offs final series

The ice hockey Extraliga play-offs final series got off to a dramatic start on Saturday when favourites Sparta Prague were beaten 3:2 at home by Vitkovice. Sparta took a 2:0 lead after just ten minutes on the ice but Vitkovice made a resounding comeback in the last minute of the second third, when they put two in the Sparta net in 41 seconds. Sparta never recovered from that double-whammy, and it was all over when 19-year-old Lukas Chmelir got Vitkovice's third with ten minutes to go. The first team to score three wins will become Extraliga champions.

Sparta sack manager, drop two points in big Prague derby against Slavia

On Thursday Sparta Prague, at the time just one point off the pace in the Czech football league and having reached the second group stage of the Champions League, sacked manager Jaroslav Hrebik. If chairman Vlastimil Kostal was expecting an improved team under the new coach - Hrebik's former assistant Vitezslav Lavicka - he won't have been pleased with Sparta's performance against Slavia in the big Prague derby on Friday. It was a scrappy game and ended in a 1:1 a draw. Nineteen-year-old Tomas Jun found himself in a lot of space and controlled the ball well to put Sparta ahead before the break but Slavia got one back in the last five minutes to deprive the champions of two much-needed points.

And Viktoria Zizkov blew their chance of going top of the table when they could only manage a 1:1 draw against Pribram.

Hlavackova takes silver in 100 metres backstroke in World Short Course Championships

Ilona Hlavackova,  photo CTK
In swimming, Ilona Hlavackova has made history by becoming the first ever Czech to take a medal at the World Short Course Championships in Moscow, where she won the silver in the 100 metres backstroke. The 25-year-old said it was the greatest success of her career. And Hlavackova narrowly missed out on a second medal when she came fourth in the 50 metres backstroke on Sunday.