|Posted on December 30, 2009 at 9:21 AM|
29-12-2009 | Ian Willoughby
2009 has been a rather mixed year for Czech sport. Perhaps the biggest single story was the national soccer team’s failure to reach the World Cup, despite having a relatively easy group on paper. The Czech men’s tennis team, meanwhile, went on a remarkable run in the Davis Cup, only to lose to Spain in the final. And in athletics, Barbora Špotáková took the Czech Republic’s only medal, silver in the women’s javelin, at the Athletics World Championships in Berlin.
The Czech men’s tennis team went on a fantastic run in the Davis Cup, beating France, Argentina and Croatia to reach the final for the first time since Czechoslovakia won the prestigious competition in 1980. However, they proved no match for a Spanish team led by an in-form Rafael Nadal; the Spaniards took just three matches to overcome the Czechs in the best-of-five final earlier this month. When the Czech team arrived home at Prague airport the day after that tie, I asked key player Tomáš Berdych for his thoughts on the Davis Cup result.
“If I’m going to look at the situation in general and in the past I would say that it’s a really good achievement, especially for Czech tennis, because it’s after 29 years and I’m really happy about that. But on the other hand we went to Barcelona with a little bit bigger expectations. But as we saw, the Spanish team is really the best in the world. They just proved it and they played fantastic, so all credit to them – they just deserved to win.”
Berdych is now ranked 20th in the world. The Czech number one Radek Štěpánek, who at 31 is rather more experienced than Berdych, is now up to a respectable 12th in the international rankings after a year he can be satisfied with. Štěpánek was particularly impressive in early part of season, when he won two ATP titles, in San Jose and Brisbane.
Berdych: "playing the 2009 Davis Cup final it has been a great achievement, for us and all of Czech Republic"