Sports News

By Nick Carey

Yes, it's time for the sport now, and there's been plenty going on in the world of sport this week, both at home and abroad.

We'll start away from home with the French Open, which is now well underway. There was a bevy of Czechs lined up to play in the tournament and their fortunes have certainly been mixed. In the women's singles tournament, the first round brought a combination of triumph and disaster, as Denisa Chladkova knocked out Holland's Miriam Oremans 6-2 6-3, Daja Bedanova saw off France's Stephanie Foretz after a bit of a struggle 7-5 7-5 and Lenka Nemeckova beat Rita Kuti Kis of Hungary 3-6 6-2 6-2. But it was quelle domage for Kveta Hrdlickova who succumbed 6-4 6-4 to Selima Sfar, the first Tunisian woman ever to reach the second round at the French Open. And Adriana Gersi fared no better, as she was soundly beaten 6-0 6-0 by Yugoslavia's Jelena Dokic.

The Czechs also did well in the second round, with Daja Bedanova edging past Germany's Andrea Glass 4-6 7-5 6-0, and Denisa Chladkova beating Anne Kremer of Luxembourg 4-6 6-2 6-3, but Lenka Nemeckova's tournament came to an unfortunate end as she was defeated 6-4 6-3 by Russian Lina Krasnoroutskaya.

In the men's singles tournament, the first round saw three out of the five Czech contestants knocked out, as Alberto Martin of Spain saw off Jiri Vanek 4-6 7-6 7-5 6-3, while Slava Dosedel was beaten 7-6 6-1 6-1 by Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador and Martin Damm was defeated after a struggle by Russia's Andrei Stoliarov 3-6 6-3 6-3 6-4. But it was good news for Bohdan Ulihrach who beat Spain's Felix Mantilla 3-6 6-1 6-3 6-3, and for Jiri Novak who squeezed past France's Arnaud Di pasquale 1-6 6-7 6-4 6-0 6-4. Both Czechs did well in the second round, as Bohdan Ulihrach won against Mariano Puerta of Argentina 2-6 6-3 6-3 6-3, and it was mais oui bien sur for Jiri Novak as he defeated Frenchman Cedric Pioline 2-6 6-4 6-2 7-5.

Football now, and Viktoria Zizkov were the surprise winners of the Czech cup final, beating favourites Sparta Prague 2-1 in miserable playing conditions. Ludek Straceny put Zizkov in the lead with a goal after 14 minutes. Sparta managed to equalise in the 32nd minute with a shot from Jiri Janosek, but opportunities to attain an historic league and cup double eluded Sparta throughout the second half, when heavy rain made playing very difficult, and in the end it was Vitkoria Zizkov that took the title, with a golden goal from Ales Pikl in the 98th minute.

And speaking of Sparta Prague, coach Ivan Hasek has announced he is quitting the team to go to French side Racing Strasbourg on a two-year contract. Hasek played at Strasbourg from 1990-95, before ending his career at Sparta in 1997. In his two years as coach, he has guided Sparta to two consecutive league titles.

And finally, with preparations underway for the Czech Republic's World Cup qualifiers against Denmark in Copenhagen on Saturday, and against Northern Ireland in Teplice next Wednesday, team coach Josef Chovanec has Pribram's goalkeeper Michal Spit to replace Tomas Postulka who is out injured. Another injury that could cause the team more concern is that of Pavel Nedved, who plays at Lazio and is the Czech national team captain. Nedved's ankle is apparently causing him pain, and it's apparently fifty-fifty whether he'll be able to play. Nedved has been quoted as saying that he has trouble kicking the ball hard enough, so we'll have to see, but he has made miraculous recoveries in the past.