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.
Czechs power past Japanese to Davis Cup semi-final tie with France
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.
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.
Sparta beat Slovácko despite handball controversy
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.