Sports News

By Nick Carey

Yes, indeed, it's time for the sports roundup, and the Czech Republic's woes continue in the world of tennis, and the news is not much brighter in international football.

Tennis first, and with the US Open only four days away, the Czechs have fared poorly in international tournaments this week. Kveta Hrdlickova started strongly in a WTA tournament in New Haven, Connecticut, beating fellow Czech Daja Bedanova in the first round 1-6, 6-3, 6-2. But the very next day she succumbed to Germany's Anke Huber in straight sets, 6-1, 7-6. And in the Hamlet Cup ATP tennis tournament in Commack in the state of New York, Michal Tabara bowed out in the first round of the men's singles tournament to Sweden's Thomas Johansson, 6-1, 6-4. Fingers crossed for the start of the US Open on Monday, but things not looking too promising for Czech tennis players at this point.

Football now, and to the fans of Slavia Prague it must seem that the team is destined never to make it through to the Champions League. After a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Greek side Panathiniakos in the first leg of the third qualifying round, Slavia's hopes were riding on the second leg away game in Athens. But it was not to be. After 27 minutes of play, the Greeks were awarded a penalty kick, which was slotted neatly into the net by midfielder Angelos Basinas. Slavia were unable to break the strong Greek defence in the second half, and the final score remained 1-0. So Slavia Prague has to sit out the Champions League and earnings of some 3 million US dollars yet again. Bad news als

o for two Czech national players. Liverpool midfielder Patrik Berger suffered yet another knee injury while training last week, and is off to the USA to see specialists, and hopefully avoid a third knee operation. Berger damaged the same knee last November, and was out of action for four months, before returning to play in Liverpool's FA Cup and UEFA Cup wins in the springs. Liverpool manager Gerald Houllier remains hopeful he will be fit for upcoming Champions League games, but Berger himself says it all depends on his doctors.

And finally, defender Tomas Repka, who currently plays for Italian side Fiorentina, is in trouble with national team coach Jozef Chovanec, after failing to turn up for the Czech Republic's friendly match against South Korea last Wednesday. Repka apparently neglected to inform Chovanec that he would be unable to play, and as a result he will have to sit out the next two World Cup qualifying matches as punishment.