Sports News

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By Ian Willoughby

One headline in today's press said it all - Novak - the sensation of Melbourne - yes, the 26-year-old Czech tennis player Jiri Novak has done well, reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Novak, who is seeded 26th, beat the Slovak Dominik Hrbaty in two hours 11 minutes to reach the last eight . Novak broke Hrbaty's serve eight times, racing through the first two sets 6-4 6-2. The Slovak rallied to win the third 7:5 but Novak then clinched the fourth 6-2 - setting up a meeting with the Austrian Stefan Koubek on Tuesday.

Novak's victory on Saturday was his best performance in 23 Grand Slam tournaments. His previous best also came at the Australian Open, when he reached the third round in 1999.

With just two and a half weeks to go before the Winter Olympics, the top Czech freestyle aerial skier, Ales Valenta came second at the 2002 Freestyle Challenge World Cup Men's Aerials Competition at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Sunday. If you are not familiar with aerials, it is quite a sport - competitors ski down a steep slope hitting an even steeper ramp at the bottom which sends them into the air where they perform gymnastic type turns before landing on their skis on the other side. One to watch in slow motion.

Staying with winter sports, the Czech Nordic combined skier Pavel Churavy notched up the biggest success of his career on Sunday when he came second in the World Cup event at Bedrichov, north Bohemia - not bad preparation for Salt Lake City. Churavy said he had been hoping to finish in the top twenty at the Olympics - after Sunday's success he believes he can do a bit better than that.

Moving on to ice hockey, Sparta Prague continue to lead the Extraliga following an exciting 6:5 victory over Havirov on Sunday. Sparta are four points clear with one game in hand over second place Pardubice, who lost 4:1 to Ceske Budejovice. Third place Zlin beat Litvinov 5:1.

By the way, we usually only give the names of the towns where Czech ice hockey teams come from here on Radio Prague. Most of the clubs full titles include the names of their sponsors. So Karlovy Vary are really Becherovka Karlovy Vary Hockey Club and Znojmo's full title is Excalibur Znojemsti Orli Hockey Club.