Czech tennis team overcome Portugal to qualify for Davis Cup

A win by rising star Jiří Lehečka secured the Czech Republic's passage to the so-called World Cup of tennis.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 06.02.2023 09:15:00 (updated on 06.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech tennis player Jiří Lehečka’s win Sunday night over Portuguese number one João Sousa has sent the Czech Republic to the Davis Cup, an annual knock-out tournament in which nations take on one another.

Lehečka, just 21 years old, comfortably overcame Sousa in straight sets (6:4, 6:1) to put his country 3:1 ahead of Portugal in the best-of-five tie, thereby guaranteeing victory. The Czechs were on away soil – playing on an indoor-clay surface in Portugal – making victory all the more impressive. 

“The conditions we had here were difficult despite the efforts of the organizers. After the last ball, I felt a great joy that we managed to win,” said Lehečka after the match.

The Czech Republic team got off to a good start in the international face-off, which was played over the course of the weekend, when Czech number one Lehečka downed Nuno Borges in straight sets. This result likely came as no surprise – Lehečka is ranked 37 in the world and Borges 105.

The second match saw a second Czech victory – and may have raised some eyebrows. Tomáš Macháč, aged 22 and outside the world’s top 100, beat world number 84 Sousa in three sets. 

The Czech Republic has an impressive history in the Davis Cup. The country has won on three occasions (1980, 2012, 2013) and finished as runner-up twice (most recently in 2009).

Portugal reduced the deficit Sunday afternoon, when the Portuguese doubles team – in which Borges paired up with Francisco Cabral – downed Macháč and his doubles partner Adam Pavlásek in two sets to make the overall standing 2:1.

To take the tie to a decider, Sousa needed to best his rival Sunday evening. He was unable to deal with Lehečka’s hot run of form (the Czech made the Australian Open quarterfinals recently), and the country – led by former player Jaroslav Navrátil – will now compete in the group stage of the Davis Cup from Sep. 12-17.

“Even though they [the Czechs] played on clay, they showed that they are better players and a promise for the future," said coach Navrátil.

The Czech Republic will now be pitched against opponents such as the U.S., Australia, and France, who are the three most successful teams in the competition's 123-year history. Having not qualified for the 2022 edition of the tournament, the Czech squad will be pleased with their success up to now – and will aim to go deep in the tournament later this year.

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