Sports News

Radek Stepanek, photo CTK

The Czech ice-hockey team gears up for Thursday's encounter with Latvia at the World Championships in Sweden - a win will book them a place in the quarter finals. Radek Stepanek defeats Germany's Nicolas Kiefer in the second round of the BMW Tennis Open in Munich, and the world's greatest chess players arrive in Prague for the Eurotel World Chess Trophy.

Win over Latvia would book Czech place in ice-hockey quarter finals

We start with the ice-hockey World Championships in Sweden, and a win over Latvia on Thursday night would guarantee the Czech Republic a place in the quarter finals. The Czechs - who've won the championships for the last three years in a row - finished top of group A after beating Germany 7-5 on Monday. The defending champions will be strengthened by the return of their first choice goaltender Milan Hnilicka, who was injured in last Friday's match against Switzerland.

The team may have reached the last sixteen with three straight wins, but coach Josef Augusta is far from 100 percent satisfied with their performance. A convincing 5-0 win over Switzerland was followed by a shaky 5-3 victory over rank outsiders Japan and a 7-5 battle of wills against Germany. Augusta told reporters all three performances were marred by a lack of discipline, and says his team must concentrate on improving their game when the opponents have power play.

All the same Augusta said the mood in the team was high ahead of Thursday night's encounter with Estonia in Jonkoping. "Every victory raises the team's self-confidence. When we were leading 3-1 and the other side equalised within a minute, we still managed to come back and win. It was a real psychological boost," Augusta said.

Stepanek beats Kiefer in BMW Open second round in Munich

Radek Stepanek, photo CTK
Moving on to tennis and Radek Stepanek defeated Germany's Nicolas Kiefer in the second round of the on Wednesday. Stepanek, ranked world number 206, breezed to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Kiefer, who caused a major upset on Tuesday by beating top seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia in the first round. Stepanek will now play Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti, seeded seven. Earlier on Tuesday, the Czech Republic's fourth-seeded defending champion Jiri Novak fought back to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Norwegian qualifier Jan Frode Andersen.

Kasparov knocked out of Eurotel World Chess Trophy

Chess doesn't often make it into our sports bulletins, but it would be hard to ignore the presence of two of the game's giants in the Czech capital this week. Both the world number one - Russia's Garry Kasparov - and his arch rival - fellow Russian Anatoly Karpov - are in Prague to take part in the Eurotel World Chess Trophy. The official website describes Kasparov as the best player on the planet - he wasn't on form on Wednesday though, after being knocked out of the quarter-finals by Vassily Ivancuk of Ukraine. Karpov is already through to the semis, after beating another Russian, Vladimir Kramnik.

Bohemians old boys too much for Social Democrat "Red Fist"

Not much football news this week, except for a May Day match between Bohemians Old Boys and a Social Democrat team. Captain Karel Splichal had promised a "red fist" in the form of Minister without Portfolio Karel Brezina and Interior Minister Stanislav Gross. In the end though Gross failed to turn up, and a Bohemians side led by Czech legend Antonin Panenka beat the Social Democrats 7-5. The party will have to do better than that in June's parliamentary elections.