Sports News

Radek Stepanek, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic have lost an epic Davis Cup tie against holders Russia, with everything hinging on the very last set of the weekend. There was no joy for the Czech ice hockey squad either - they went to the Swedish Games hoping to win the Euro Hockey Tour but suffered a total washout and ended up second from bottom of the final table. And Sparta Prague have been and gone and sold captain Jiri Novotny, who'd only been there 16 years and won 13 league titles.

First Davis Cup experience a heartbreaker for Radek Stepanek

Radek Stepanek, photo: CTK
Ostrava in north Moravia was the setting for an epic tennis clash at the weekend, when the Czech Republic played host to holders Russia in the first round of this year's Davis Cup. With the score at two matches all after Jiri Novak beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov in straight sets on Sunday afternoon, the best of five series came down to the very last match between Radek Stepanek and Nikolai Davydenko. Czech hopes were raised when Stepanek took the first set 6:1, and the match reached a thrilling climax when he fought back to take the fourth set after losing the second two. As Jiri Novak put it, knocking out the Russians would have made Stepanek a national hero. Unfortunately, the pressure evidently became too much for the 24-year-old Davis Cup debutante and he fell to pieces in the final set, not winning a single game. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Radek Stepanek said afterwards it was the saddest moment of his tennis career.

Ice hockey team suffer washout at Swedish Games, come third in Euro Tour

Swedish Games, photo: CTK
But tennis wasn't the only sport in which the Czech Republic faced traditional foes Russia at the weekend. The Czechs came last in ice hockey's Swedish Games after being beaten 3:2 by the Ruskies on Sunday, and to make matters even worse, the Russians also edged them into third place in the final standings of the Euro Hockey Tour. The Swedish Games were a real washout for the Czech Republic, with their only win coming against Canada, whom they beat in a shoot-out. Coach Slavomir Lener criticised his charges' poor concentration, though he said he was pleased by how the Czech goalies and young players had performed. One of those youngsters, 19-year-old Jiri Hudler, has emerged as one of the Czech Republic's most important players, and was named in the tournament's All Star selection.

After 16 years service, Sparta give captain Novotny free transfer

Jiri Hudler is currently on loan to the Russian club Kazan, and may soon meet up with another Czech international, footballer Jiri Novotny. Novotny was given a free transfer to Kazan after the new coach of Sparta Prague, Jiri Kotrba, made it clear the defender had no place in his plans. It will be interesting to see how the club's fans react to that move, given that - after 16 years and 13 league titles at Sparta - it would be no exaggeration to say that Novotny was the living embodiment of the club. And Lukas Hartig of Bohemians is also reportedly bound for Russia: if he signs with Zenit St Petersburg - who are managed by former Bohemians man Vlastimil Petrzela - Hartig will be the fifth Czech player to join the club.

Football squad set for Player of Year awards before France friendly

The Czech Republic's football squad have assembled in Prague ahead of an away friendly against France on Wednesday. Before they leave for Paris the footballers will have a big night out at the Player of the Year awards, which are being held on Monday night.