Archive for: ‘July 2019’

Sharapova happy with Singapore swing despite defeat

19/07/2019 Posted by admin

“I was able to play quite physical matches and get through them.


I think that was something that I wasn’t sure of coming into this week because I hadn’t played a lot,” the Russian told reporters after another injury-interrupted campaign.

Struck down by leg and arm ailments, the world number four arrived in Singapore without a match under her belt since July. Despite her lack of activity, some observers believed Sharapova was still the woman to beat.

That belief came from Serena Williams’s decision to skip this year’s tournament to recover from her own ailments and when Sharapova breezed through the round-robin phase with a perfect 3-0 record, it was difficult to see anyone beating her.

Kvitova, however, is a formidable opponent for any player and the Czech double Wimbledon champion reeled off six second-set games to stun Sharapova 6-3 7-6(3) and leave the Russian with just next month’s Fed Cup final to look forward to.

“I didn’t have expectations coming into this week. Of course it’s always tough to sit after a match and say you’re happy, especially after you lose it,” the 28-year-old told reporters.

“But it would be quite unprofessional of me to not take a lot of positives out of this week. I think there’s a lot to look forward to in the off-season and next year, as well as a couple of the matches in two weeks,” she said of the showdown against the Czech Republic in Prague on Nov. 14-15.

Sharapova admitted to being a little rusty from her layoff and that could have led to her inability to close out a second set that she led 5-1 at one stage.

“I felt like I took my foot off the gas, started the second set aggressive in the court forcing her to go for a little much, and then felt like I backed up a little bit,” Sharapova added.

“I gave her more time, more angles, and she took advantage.”

Sharapova and Kvitova are set to renew their competitive rivalry in Prague and the Russian would like nothing more than to gain quick revenge for Saturday’s loss in her first-ever Fed Cup final appearance.

“I am looking forward to it but it’s something I’ve never been a part of before so I don’t really know what to expect,” she said.

“I was really proud of how the team came through in Germany, because I knew they were the underdogs going into that match and I couldn’t play, so that was disappointing.

“So I’m really glad that I have another chance to compete and be part of the team.”

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

Happy Halloween! Kvitova back from the dead to make final

19/07/2019 Posted by admin

The double Wimbledon champion was reflecting on her year, believing her singles season was over, after losing to Garbine Muguruza in her final round-robin match on Friday, only for Lucie Safarova to beat Angelique Kerber in straight sets and send Kvitova through.


The world number five made the most of the unlikely semi-final chance as she produced her best display of the week to beat Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-3 7-6(3) at the Indoor Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s very weird, I have to say. Yesterday I was talking about my season, and it’s still not over yet,” Kvitova told reporters.

“But I’m happy for that for sure. I mean, I couldn’t really believe that I going to play semi-final, now I’m in the final, which is very interesting.

“I’m really looking forward (to it). I think Aga is kind of in the same situation, so it’s going to be interesting.”

Radwanska also needed a favour to make the semi-finals after two opening defeats, but, like Kvitova, she overcame an opponent in Muguruza who had won all three group matches.

It means whoever wins Sunday’s showdown will be the first to lift the title with a 1-2 group-stage record. The round robin was introduced in 2003.

“I think it’s great that it will happen,” said Kvitova, who won the WTA Finals on her debut in 2011.

“It’s something new in the history. That’s the sport. That’s the format how we play in the groups and everything. It’s very interesting.

“I think that Aga is kind of on the same level as me, that she’s improving each match, so that’s a little bit different (from a) normal tournament.

“I don’t really like the beginning of the tournaments for sure but that’s how it is. It’s probably normal that I’m improving my game each match. That’s happening here as well. Finally I see the final line, so that’s good.”

The 25-year-old Kvitova, who is sure to face Sharapova again at the Fed Cup final next month in Prague, said she had promised compatriot Safarova some beers when they returned home after she helped her through to the final in Singapore.

The tall Czech holds a 6-2 win-loss head-to-head record over Radwanska but played down the favourite tag for Sunday’s finale, still baffled at how she had made it through.

“It just still feels so weird that I’m in the final. You lost and still — it’s terrible,” the left hander said.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

How the 2015 RWC final unfolded

19/07/2019 Posted by admin

7th minute: Five-eighth Dan Carter opens the scoring with a penalty to give New Zealand a 3-0 lead.


13th: Five-eighth Bernard Foley levels the scores after the Wallabies secure a scrum penalty. 3-3.

15th: Wallabies lock Kane Douglas forced off the field after falling awkwardly and injuring his left knee in a lineout.

25th: Wallabies centre Matt Giteau forced off with concussion – replaced by Kurtley Beale – after taking a blow to the head when attempting to tackle All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick.

26th: Carter kicks his second penalty following a high shot against him by Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu. New Zealand 6-3.

36th: Carter kicks his third penalty after referee Nigel Owens misses a huge forward pass from All Blacks winger Nehe Milner-Skudder.

39th: Milner-Skudder scores the first try of the game, latching on to Richie McCaw’s pass to crash over in the right corner. Carter kicks the sideline conversion. New Zealand 16-3.


42nd: Centre Ma’a Nonu scores to give New Zealand the perfect start to the second half. Carter’s conversion sails wide. New Zealand 21-3.

53th: Fullback Ben Smith yellow-carded and New Zealand are reduced to 14 men for a lifting tackle on Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell five metres from the tryline.

54th: From the resulting penalty, David Pocock is driven over the line to score the Wallabies’ first try from a rolling maul. Foley kicks the conversion. New Zealand 21-10.

64th: Centre Tevita Kuridrani gets Australia back into the game by finishing off a try started by a Will Genia kick and Foley regather. Foley kicks the conversion. New Zealand 21-17.

65th: Smith returns from the sin bin.

69th: Carter kicks a pressure field goal from 40 metres out to regain momentum for the All Blacks. New Zealand 24-17.

74th: Carter bisects the posts from over 50 metres to put one hand on the Webb Ellis Cup after a scrum infringement against Wallabies replacement prop Greg Holmes. New Zealand 27-17.

78th: Replacement back Beauden Barrett seals victory with runaway try after Smith pounces on a spilt ball from Mitchell and toes it ahead. Carter converts. New Zealand 34-17.

80th: New Zealand become the first nation to win three World Cups and their first on foreign soil.

Libs to retain seats in Vic by-elections

19/07/2019 Posted by admin

The Victorian Liberals are on track to retain two seats in the state’s southwest, but by-election polling suggests the party’s primary vote has fallen 15 per cent in one electorate.


The Liberals are claiming victory for Richard Riordan in the seat of Polwarth with 60 per cent of the vote counted.

Mr Riordan leads the primary vote on 47.90 per cent, followed by Greens candidate Joe Miles on 16.95 per cent.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has already welcomed Mr Riordan to state parliament.

“It’s pretty clear by the polling that Richard Riordan has won, and he has won handsomely,” he told supporters gathered in Warrnambool.

The victory in Polwarth breaks a 27-year spell during which the state Liberals have not won a by-election.

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber is delighted with the support his party has received in the region.

“Who said the Greens are just a city-based party?” Mr Barber said.

He described the result as a “good omen” for the growing Green vote in regional, local and federal elections.

Polwarth is one of two Liberal-held seats in Victoria’s southwest being contested on Saturday.

In South-West Coast, the Liberals’ Roma Britnell is leading the primary vote on 40.34 per cent with 75 per cent of the vote counted.

In the two candidate preferred vote, the Nationals’ Michael Neoh sits on 40.91 per cent, while Ms Britnell leads on 59.09 per cent.

South-West Coast was vacated by former premier Denis Napthine, who captured 56.97 per cent of the primary vote in last year’s state election.

Mr Guy acknowledged Dr Napthine’s popularity with the electorate was a hard act to follow for a new Liberal candidate.

“From Denis Napthine leaving as one of the most popular local members in Australia, it is always going to be difficult,” Mr Guy said.

“I am very confident that from the feedback we are receiving … we can get over the line.”

Ms Britnell – a former National Rural Woman of the Year – said she was prepared for a tight contest.

“It’s been a hard race but I always expected it to be a hard race,” she said.

Labor opted not to field candidates in the by-elections, ensuring the major challenge came from Nationals candidates and conservative independents.

Polwarth was given up by former roads minister Terry Mulder.

Paseka soars past Hong and Biles to land vault title

19/07/2019 Posted by admin

Paseka hit her landing with both her vaults, an Amanar — a round-off on to the springboard followed by a back handspring on to the vaulting equipment before flying into the air while twisting around two-and-a-half times — and a Cheng, to earn an average total of 15.


666. She gave Russia their first gold of the Glasgow championships.

“I feel crazy emotions. Today I managed to do everything I trained for and everything went as planned. I had so much adrenaline in me that I didn’t really think about how I did after I vaulted. But I was very relieved when I saw the result,” Paseka told reporters.

Hong attempted the same two vaults as Paseka but paid the price for taking a step forward after her Amanar and a step back when she landed the Cheng — a round-off half twist on somersault with one-and-a-half twists. She missed out on gold by 0.033 of a point.

Biles, who had been the top qualifier for the final, added the bronze medal to the team and all-around golds she collected earlier in the week with a score of 15.541.

Britain’s Ellie Downie finished fourth while Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian to make an apparatus final at the worlds was fifth.

Karmakar had the highest difficulty (7.000) of the finalists for her risky Produnova vault — a front handspring into double front somersault — but failed to pull it off cleanly as her bottom touched the mat before she bounced back on to her feet.

Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber’s competition ended painfully as she sat down awkwardly following her second jump and limped off the stage with her arms around two coaches who had rushed to help her.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

Beaten Wallabies lose final but win back lost fans

19/07/2019 Posted by admin

As gut-wrenching as it was for the Wallabies to fall to their bitter arch-rivals, they can still take great comfort from knowing they may have won a bigger battle.


Despite being one of the sport’s traditional superpowers, rugby still struggles for constant attention in Australia, one of the few countries in the world with four different professional football codes competing in the same market place.

Australian Rules Football and rugby league have always been the most widely followed winter sports Down Under with the popularity of rugby and soccer often fluctuating, depending on the fortunes of the national team.

One of the few sports where Australia has not succeeded on the international stage, soccer received a major shot in the arm this year when Australia won the Asian Cup for the first time, while rugby was still floundering and in need of a quick fix.

The Wallabies had not won the World Cup since 1999 and not made a final since 2003. Their fair weather fans were losing faith in a team that was regularly losing games, a national governing body (ARU) that was losing money and a divided side that was embroiled in a series of off-field scandals.

Then along came Michael Cheika, who was appointed as the new head coach when Ewen McKenzie quit just over 12 months out from the World Cup.

With no time to waste, the no-nonsense son of Lebanese migrants who made his fortune in the women’s fashion industry, set in motion his vision of what Australian rugby needed to win back the hearts and minds of his countryman.

Making a big impression at the World Cup was just one part of his mission.

His first job was to get the Wallabies back playing the game the way Australians want – abandoning the cautious forward-based approach that had taken hold and returning to the riskier but more instinctive running game.

One of the first assistant coaches he hired was Stephen Larkham, a World Cup winner with the Wallabies in 1999 and one of Australia’s best exponents of attacking rugby.

“I’ve been brought up with tries, attacking football,” Cheika said. “I understand that it’s more difficult but if you don’t try to score them you’re not going to.

“It does leave you open and can leave you open on the counter punch sometimes…but I think that’s how Australians want us to play.”

Then Cheika went to work on fixing Australia’s wonky scrum, recruiting Argentine great Mario Ledesma, then he called on Nathan Grey to tighten up the defence.

“We worked really hard in defence and that’s something we want to be able to do because it’s a sign of team spirit and we want to work hard there,” Cheika explained.

He began searching for players with the characteristics he wanted, encouraging some who had given up on representing their country and gone to Europe, to come home and try again.

He also persuaded the ARU to let him pick foreign-based players who had played at least 60 tests, then gambled successfully by moving David Pocock from openside flanker to number eight so he could get him and Michael Hooper on the field at the same time.

The team rediscovered its mojo, playing a brand of rugby that has had everyone at home sitting up and watching them again.

Their unexpected run to the World Cup final was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish that ultimately ended in disappointment but it showed that the Wallabies are back on track after a years in the wilderness.

Congrats to @AllBlacks. Deserved the win tonight. Australia – sorry we couldn’t get the job done. Thanks for all the support. #RWCFinal

— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) October 31, 2015″I’m absolutely gutted” Bernard Foley

— Wallabies (@Wallabies) October 31, 2015

“We haven’t tried to manufacture anything,” Cheika said.

“We have got our supporters in Australia enjoying the game again and that’s not marketing. I’m not from the marketing department. It is good for them to feel that they are attached to the team.”