Were you surprised by how far the situation around Lukáš Rosol got?
It was a surprise to me, but as a captain, I have little to do with it, because Lukáš has a contract with a tennis association. I made a nomination, which I then narrowed down and that’s all I want to say. Of course, I knew about those things, but I won’t comment further. Why should I?
Rosol played the Davis Cup for 10 years, playing several big matches in it (he won both singles in the quarterfinals in Kazakhstan 2013, later defeated Zvereva or Tsong). Did his approach disappoint you when you wanted to have him on the team as a player who would bring experience?
Lukáš did a good job in the Davis Cup and was a permanent member of the team. He is also a two-time Davis Cup winner when he played in the era with Tomáš (Berdych) and Radek (Štěpánek). He has done enough for Czech tennis, but it is certainly a disappointment. Today, however, its performance compared to young people is not like that. Rosol is the sixth player in the Czech ranking behind Víťa Kopřiva, whom I did not nominate. I now hope that Kopřiva, Jonáš Forejtek and Dalibor Svrčina will improve and be able to play the Davis Cup too. I think Lukáš’s Davis Cup career is closed.
Did the performances of Tomáš Macháč and Jiří Lehečka in Innsbruck meet your expectations?
The boys surprised me a lot. I watched them all season and especially at the end, when their results were rather average. But I believed that Innsbruck would help them learn, because none of them played almost anything in the Davis Cup. But now they were both pillars of the team. Tomáš Macháč in particular played incredibly well. Berdych and Štěpánek did not have such an entry into the Davis Cup. Defeating Gasquet, a former top 10 player, and Evans, who is now 25th in the world, hats it down. I have to say that I didn’t expect it, but I also saw Tomáš improve. And when he gained the trust, he sold it with everything.
But Lehečka did not disappoint you either …
He did not play the first match because he arrived a little broken from the tournament in Pau and his knee hurt, so Jirka Veselý played against Mannarin. Lehečka was a little nervous against the 12th player in the world, Norečka, but he played, he was better on the court, but he did not use the beginning of the third set and the experienced Brit came back and lost to Jirka. But Lehečka definitely has the top 100, maybe even higher. You need two but three players for the Davis Cup to have a doubles where we have reserves. Although Lehečka and Macháč played an excellent duel against the first pair in the world.
Did you have any reactions from your opponents to the performance of the Czech youth?
I know (French captain) Grosjean and especially Gasquet. They both told me how Macháč, whom they practically didn’t know, surprised them. Their players are in the hundred and the challengers don’t play much. Even the English captain (Leon Smith) told me that the two of our boys are the new wind we are waiting for here after the departure of Tomáš and Radek. So I told him I believed he wouldn’t stay with the two. We also have other even younger boys there, such as Jakub Menšík and Vojta Petr. In the future, it could be the light at the end of the tunnel for us.
However, the most experienced player of the team, Jiří Veselý, received quite a lot of criticism after the Davis Cup. Is it justified to you?
I’m sorry. In that match with Mannarin, who is very experienced, Jirka played two very good sets, even though he lost. The criticism is great, but if Jirka had not been to last year’s barracks in Bratislava, we did not play any finals. In the way Macháč and Lehečka sold it, he found himself in the shadows. But he’s been in the Davis Cup for a long time and he’s held us a few times. During barracks in India (2015), Hungary (2018) and Slovakia. I just hope he saw the boys stepping on his heels and he will definitely want to improve so that he plays a dignified role in that team and not the role of the 4th player. Definitely add, one experienced player should definitely be there. And then four young people who will learn. But the criticism of Veselý was too harsh.
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Captain Navrátil: We bet on younger players. Rosol’s Davis Cup career is closed – Sport.cz