Rising Czech tennis star Tomas Berdych defies the world rankings at the Paris Masters; Nicole Vaidisova's 18-match unbeaten run is at an end, but she still has reason to celebrate; Sparta Prague continue to struggle at home and in Europe; Slavia falters at the top of ice hockey's Extraliga; Jaromir Jagr continues to shine in the NHL.
The Czech-German border is one of history's fault lines, for centuries a place of tension between the German and the Slav worlds. For many people the events of 1938, when Hitler annexed the Czech border regions are still in living memory, and after the war almost the entire German minority of Czechoslovakia was forcibly expelled. But although we often hear about Czech-German tensions, on the ground things today are very different. Once closely guarded borders are open and cross-border relations are friendly and for the most part break the stereotype.
In Sports News: the Czech Republic will face Norway in the football World Cup play-offs, while former captain Pavel Nedved surprises many by saying he is available for the two games; Sparta Prague get off to a winning start under new manager Stanislav Griga; Slavia ice hockey club lose for the first time this season; and Nicole Vaidisova climbs to 17th in tennis's world rankings after taking three WTA titles in as many weeks.
In Sports News: the Czech women's basketball team beat Russia in a dramatic final to win the European Championships for the first time ever; the new Czech ice hockey season begins after a five-month break, minus most of the NHL stars who were such a draw last term; Sparta win in the domestic football league but look shaky on the eve of their Champions League campaign; and Rudolf Skacel equals a goal-scoring record in Scotland.
Czech ice hockey star has departed for the US to return to the NHL, where he will honour his commitment to the New York Rangers. The forward, who led the Czechs to gold at this year's World Ice Hockey Championships in Vienna, played in Europe throughout the NHL lockout, first for his hometown of Kladno, and then Russia's Omsk. Departing on Sunday from Ruzyne airport Jagr was in good humour, reportedly telling journalists he hoped to shed a few extra pounds during training camp.
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