Sports News

By Nick Carey

Following the glory of the Czech Republic's third successive victory at the ice hockey championships on Sunday night, it's been a relatively quiet week for sports news.

Except that is, in the world of tennis, where several Czech players have tried their luck on the international circuit, with mixed success. We'll start with the women's tournament in the Rome Masters Series and it was good news in the second round for the Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova, as she won her match against American Meghan Shaughnessy by default. Unfortunately for Miss Shaughnessy, she injured her ankle and was forced to withdraw from the tournament, leaving Denia Chladkova rested and refreshed before a daunting third round match against Spain's Conchita Martinez, who has won at Rome four times.

The news was not so good for Adriani Gersi in the second round of the Benelux WTA Open in Antwerp, as she went down in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, to another Spaniard, Virginia Ruano Pascual.

And the outlook was also bleak for the Czechs in the second round of the Hamburg Masters Series, as Bohdan Ulihrach was beaten, by Albert Costa, who is, yes, yet another Spanish player. Ulihrach lost the first set 4-6, came back to win the second 6-1, but was then forced to retire in the third set having gone up two games to one, after he injured his wrist.

Over to football now and FIFA released the latest international rankings table on Wednesday. Just over a year ago, prior to the start of the Euro 2000 football championships, the Czechs briefly topped the table. The news now is not so great, as the Czech Republic has slipped back to seventh place, more than seventy points behind either the first or second placed teams, France or Brazil. But still, seventh place is much not to complain about.

On the club scene, rumours abound that the giant Czech striker Jan Koller, who currently plays for Dutch side Anderlecht, is likely to move to Borussia Dortmund before the start of the next season. Borussia say they are very interested in Koller, but the problem is the transfer fee. Anderlecht want 27 million Marks for Koller, but Borussia say they will only go as high as 20 million. A further round of talks is due in the near future, so Jan Koller may be able to join fellow Czech player Tomas Rosicky in Dortmund over the summer.

And finally, a very curious phenomenon appeared in the Czech papers this week in the run up to the UEFA cup final between Liverpool and Alaves of, Spain. Because there are two Czechs on the Liverpool squad, Vladimir Smicer and Patrik Berger, this led several papers to claim that the battle for the cup was being fought by the Czechs, and Lidove Noviny even went as far as to call the squad 'Czech' Liverpool. Czech Liverpool? Well, for all of you who thought Liverpool was near Wales, you could be wrong, because apparently it's in Central Europe.