Sports News

Photo: CTK

In Sports News this Monday: with one round to go, Viktoria Plzeň clinch the Czech football title, Ústí nad Labem and Brno are relegated and Dukla Prague return among the elite; in tennis, Lucie Šafářová advances to French Open’s second round with more Czechs yet to face their first round opponents; and in cycling, Roman Kreuziger ranks in the top ten in Giro d’Italia.

Viktoria Plzeň clinch historic football title

Photo: CTK
It took Viktoria Plzeň 29 games and 69 points to win the Czech football top division for the first time in the club’s 100-year-long history. Celebrations in the west Bohemian city began on Saturday after Plzeň beat Baník Ostrava 3:1, which gave them a decisive lead over defending champions Sparta. Plzeň captain Pavel Horváth, who scored his team’s third goal in the game, told reporters why he thought Plzeň prevailed this season.

“I think we won more points. But seriously, we were better this season, we won the key games, we beat Sparta twice, and we also showed a bit more psychological resilience in the important games – we never lost a home game this season. That was the key.”

Viktoria showed great football throughout the season, with Pavel Horváth as one of the key men. The 36-year-old midfield played in the Portuguese, Turkish and Japanese leagues before joining Plzeň. He won the Czech title with Sparta Prague four years ago, but said this season’s crown was the highlight of his career.

Pavel Horváth, photo: CTK
“Everybody in Sparta expects the title, and when they win, no one is surprised. Here it’s different: from the doorman to the owner, it’s a great success for each individually. Some elderly fans showed up this morning, they had with tears in their eyes and said they’d been waiting for this for years. So I hope this city will really enjoy this.”

Saturday’s penultimate round of the Gambrinus liga also determined Zbrojovka Brno, who lost a crucial game against Příbram, will be relegated. Zbrojovka drops out of the top division after 19 years. They will be accompanied by Ústí nad Labem.

On the other hand, second division winners Dukla Prague, one of the most successful clubs in Czech football history, can mark a grand comeback to the first division. Dukla sank to the lowest echelons of the country’s organized football competitions in the 1990s, and had to be re-formed before it reached the second division. Celebrations began on Friday after Dukla’s 3:1 win over Kladno. Along with Dukla Prague, another Prague club, Viktoria Žižkov, is likely to be promoted to the first division.

Tennis: Lucie Šafářová reaches French Open’s second round, with top Czechs yet to enter play

Lucie Šafářová, photo: CTK
Turning to tennis now: Lucie Šafářová has advanced to the second round of the French Open after coasting past Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6:1, 6:1 on Sunday. The 24-year-old Czech, who ranks 37th in the WTA tour, was the only Czech who made it to the second round over the weekend when Iveta Benešová, Renata Voráčová and Jan Hájek lost their opening games. After the match, Lucie Šafářová said there was nothing Kirsten Flipkens could have surprised her with.

“I knew what to expect from her; I knew she was going to play a lot of slice shots and try to get me out of my rhythm. But my coach and I had prepared and figured out what I should do. I stuck to it on the court and it worked. In the first round of any Grand Slam, everybody’s nervous and it’s not very pleasant. You badly want to win but the first rounds are uncertain. So I’m glad I did ok.”

Czech number one Tomáš Berdych, seeded sixth at Roland Garros, will face France’s Stephane Robert later on Monday, while ninth seed Petra Kvitová is set to play Greta Arn from Hungary.

Cycling: Kreuziger ranks eighth after 15 stages of Giro d’Italia

Photo: CTK
And finally, in the sport of cycling, Roman Kreuziger finished ninth in the 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, and moved onto the ninth position overall. The Czech member of the Astana team said Sunday was one of the longest days he spent on a bike as the seven-and-half hour race was preceded by a 30 minute transfer. But Kreuziger noted he was happy although he had to muster all his strength towards the end of the stage. Another Czech in this year’s Giro d’Italia, František Raboň, withdrew from the race on Sunday due to exhaustion.