Sports News

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By Peter Smith

Yes, it's the sport and let's begin with the news that the tennis legend Ivan Lendl has become the 5th Czech-born player to be inducted into the game's International Hall of Fame. At a ceremony at Newport Casino on Saturday, 41-year-old Lendl - who spent 157 consecutive weeks as the World Number One during the 1980s - was inducted alongside the Australian doubles specialist from the 1950s, Mervyn Rose.

The winner of 94 singles titles, including three US Opens, three French and two Australian, Lendl spoke at the ceremony of his regret at never triumphing on the grass courts of Wimbledon. "Of course I regretted it," he said. "If I didn't, I wouldn't have played there so many times." Lendl spent most of his career living in the USA, retiring from the ATP tour in 1994, two years after being granted American citizenship. "I knew what communism was like," he added, "and the only way to leave was to be good enough to do something that would get me out."

He may not have won Wimbledon, but he did a lot better than the present generation of Czech tennis players at this year's championships in South London. Jiri Novak offered up his apology in Gstaad at the weekend, though, when he overcame the second seed Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final of Swiss Open. In a final shortened to three sets due to forecast rain, Novak clinched the third after the Spaniard double-faulted at 6-5 and break point down.

For the unseeded Czech, the title was the second of his ATP career - he has also won the Munich Open. "It's such an incredible feeling," Novak said. "This is the biggest win of my life."

So a Czech won the Swiss, but another one lost the Swedish. In another upset the unseeded Italian Andrea Gaudenzi beat the 5th seed from the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-3 Bohdan Ulihrach in the final of the Swedish Open in Bastad. "I didn't play well," said Ulihrach. "He was very much better - his forehand was killing me."