Federer plots his way to first-round rout

“Looking ahead, it definitely looked like a very tough draw in the first round,” Federer said about the prospects of facing the 34th-ranked Argentine, who had five match points against him last year in Shanghai before falling.


Seventy-seven minutes after the opening serve at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 34-year-old Federer walked away from the Flushing Meadows heat with a glow from his 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory.

“I feel good now,” said Federer, who is seeking a sixth U.S. Open triumph to add to his record 17 grand slam singles titles.

“I actually wasn’t so confident yesterday and today. I just felt like maybe could be one of those matches I just couldn’t see coming.”

Federer, whose fluid grace and inventiveness on the court make his game seem so natural, revealed some of the calculations he does in preparing for an opponent.

“Thankfully I took this match extremely serious. I thought at times almost I was taking it a bit too serious. I got lucky in Shanghai, so that’s why … it was just creeping around in my mind that maybe today was going to be a bad day.

“Plus I had practiced with him here … the day of the draw, and he was playing very well in practise, too.”

Federer decided Mayer could be dangerous when given time to set up his shot, so he decided to rush him into mistakes.

“Today was much faster than Shanghai. It’s a different place and different conditions. It allowed me to play fast-court tennis against him, which wasn’t really the case in Shanghai.”

Federer has of late been selectively taking advantage of second serves to charge in with a half-volley to apply surprise pressure. He used it to advantage again on Tuesday.

“The good thing is when you do it, you have to play committed. There’s no way around it. So when you do it, you’re fully committed … I kind of really like it, because whatever is committed in tennis is a good thing,” said Federer.

Playing aggressively, Federer has reached the finals of his last three events, including Wimbledon, where he lost to world number one Novak Djokovic, and a U.S. Open tune-up in Cincinnati where he beat Djokovic for the title.

Asked if he may be playing his best tennis, Federer said: “If I win the tournament here yes, maybe.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)


Day’s new fitness regime paying dividends

Jason Day’s charge toward the US PGA Tour playoffs’ $US10 million bonus and world No.


1 ranking would already be over if he hadn’t transformed his body.

That’s the firm belief of trainer Cornel Driessen, who has overseen a dramatic increase in world No.3 Day’s core strength and stability, while adding 15 pounds of lean muscle and stripping away over six pounds of fat.

The hottest golfer on the planet, Day has won three of his last four tournaments, including his six-shot triumph in the playoffs series opener in New Jersey on Sunday.

But Driessen says the back twinge that forced him out of last week’s pre-tournament pro-am would likely have spelled major trouble if the 27-year-old Australian didn’t have the physical preparation he’s adopted.

“If Jason had the same strength profile that he had last year he would likely be out of the FedEx Cup, that’s my professional opinion,” Driessen told AAP.

“If he did not take the three months off after the Fed Ex Cup last year, which was hard because he wanted to play in Australia especially, and do the work he needed to do, he would not have been as resilient as he is now.

“He would have played through the pain because he’s gutsy like that but in all likelihood he would have injured himself further.

“As it was he wasn’t out of the woods until the weekend so it was a truly remarkable and courageous performance.”

complaint Day suffered in the lead up to the Barclays had he not changed his ways.

Day took on South African Driessen, who also works with the likes of Henrik Stenson and Charl Schwartzel, after last year’s FedEx Cup and the trainer pinpointed core weakness as a huge limiter to his injury prevention routines.

Day bought into the training philosophy and is reaping the benefits.

“Jason is a complete professional and has done everything asked of him when it comes to what his coach Colin (Swatton) wants, to changing his diet, to doing his exercise prescriptions,” Driessen said.

“His lower core and abs are now incredible and they were close to non-existent in comparison a year ago.

“He is showing as much as 800 percent improvement in dynamic core flexion strength and significant improvements across the board.”

Day heads to the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston this week as the FedEx Cup leader with a chance to become world No.1 firmly in his grasp.

He takes confidence from three previous top 10s at the venue including a second and third.

Should he win again, he would likely be the new world No.1 as long as current No.1 and No.2 Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth aren’t right on his tail.

Steven Bowditch (20th) is the only other Australian certain to survive week two of the playoffs with Matt Jones (57th), Marc Leishman (61st) and John Senden (81st) left with work to be done to be in the top 70 for the BMW Championship.


Cricket umpires risking death, warns Marsh

Australian chairman of selectors Rod Marsh fears it’s a matter of time before an umpire is killed or seriously injured, unless the no-ball rule is changed.


The former Test wicketkeeper says reverting to the back-foot no-ball rule, which was abandoned in the early 1960s, could save lives.

“It’s only a matter of time before an umpire in an international or first-class match is seriously hurt, if not killed,” warned Marsh while delivering the annual MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s.

“This appears most likely to occur in T20 cricket, but looking at the World Cup earlier this year, it could happen at any time.”

Marsh said if he was umpiring he would wear a baseball catcher’s helmet, chest pad and shin guards.

“Maybe we have to make this safety gear for umpires compulsory for all international and first class games,” Marsh said.

Marsh said reverting to the back-foot law would give umpires a chance to stand at least two metres further back.

“I can’t see why we ever went to the front-foot law and just quietly I can reveal there are a few umpires out there beginning to wish it would revert back to the back-foot law,” he said.

“You put yourself in their position when a batsman with a massive weapon runs at the bowler and smashes a straight drive at about chest height.”

Marsh’s comments come after former Israel cricket captain Hillel Oscar died after being struck by a ball hit by a batsman while umpiring a national league game in Israel last year.

Marsh added that cricket should follow the lead of golf and restrict the size of bats at the elite level.

“I’d put a restriction on the width of the edges because I’ll never condone a player being beaten, yet the ball still travelling 70 or 80 metres for a four or a six off the fat edge.”


Raonic takes revenge on Federer to win in Brisbane

Federer, irrepressible in his semi-final win over Dominic Thiem, was off-colour from the start at Pat Rafter Arena and his 25-year-old opponent feasted repeatedly on his wayward backhand.


Beaten in three tight sets last year, Raonic won at a canter in the rematch to clinch his eighth tour title and complete the perfect buildup to his bid for a maiden grand slam at the Australian Open starting later this month.

Closing out the match with a booming first serve that Federer could only parry long, Raonic roared in triumph, having beaten the 17-times grand slam champion for only the second time in 11 encounters.

He accepted the winner’s trophy from 77-year-old Australian great Rod Laver, the only player to complete the calendar grand slam twice.

“Hopefully (we have) a better year this year than the last,” Raonic said in his victory speech, delivering a message of peace.

“I hope in 2016 we learn to love each other a little bit more and the world becomes a safer place.”

Although wearing a furrowed brow for much of the match and showing rare negative body language, Federer was gracious in defeat but referred to a flu that had troubled him during the week.

“I’d like to congratulate Milos on a great start,” the 34-year-old said.

“This year you deserve it, well played and good luck at the Aussie Open.

“I was a bit sick but we made it to the final.”

Long tipped to rock the tennis establishment, Raonic showed a bullet-proof poise in response to his opponent’s frustration and broke Federer’s serve in the ninth game of the opening set.

Federer blasted a forehand long to concede the set then blew a gilt-edged chance to break Raonic early in the second by spraying a backhand long.

Missing a regulation forehand winner down the line, Federer gave up a break-point and Raonic captured the decisive break in the eighth game.

Federer battled hard to put the set back on level terms, but Raonic’s thunderbolt serve proved to be impenetrable.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by John O’Brien and Pritha Sarkar)


Wawrinka brushes past Coric for Chennai hat-trick

The top-seeded Swiss defeated the 19-year-old Coric, the youngest ATP World Tour finalist since Kei Nishikori at Delray Beach in 2008, to win his fourth title in six years in the Southern Indian city of Chennai.


Wawrinka, who has two grand slam titles, converted his first break point to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set.

Coric stretched his opponent in the next game but Wawrinka managed to hold on to his service game, which went on for over nine minutes.

The second set went with serve till Wawrinka broke with a sublime backhand down the line to go up 6-5 and then served out the match with Coric making an error at the net.

The win will give Wawrinka confidence that he can repeat his 2014 Australian Open success when the season’s opening grand slam begins in Melbourne on Jan. 18.

But for now he wants to enjoy his first success of the year.

“I was expecting a pretty tough match. He is really good and he always finds a way to fight and come back in the match,” the French Open champion, who fired 15 aces and won 34 of 38 points on his first serve, said at the presentation.

“Let’s first enjoy the title. It’s a very important tournament for me, that’s why I like to come back here. Perfect conditions to start.

“I am not thinking about the rest of the year now.”

Coric was satisfied with his efforts during the week in which he had to win a trio of three-set matches to book his place in his maiden ATP final.

“It’s my first (final) so I’m going to make some mistakes. So give me some time please,” Coric said.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai, editing by Pritha Sarkar)


Cameron says he could make Brexit work

It would not be the “right answer” for Britons to vote to leave the European Union, but the government will have to make it work if they do, Prime Minister David Cameron has declared.


An opinion poll published on Thursday showed a majority of Britons who have made up their mind would back leaving the EU in a referendum due by the end of 2017.

Cameron said he hoped voters would back staying in the EU if he achieves his planned reforms to Britain’s relationship with the bloc.

“The British public will make their decision. We must obey that decision whatever it is,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

“I don’t think that (exit) is the right answer, (but) were that to be the answer, we would have to do everything necessary to make that work.”

Asked whether the government was making contingency plans for a possible exit, Cameron said it had plans for the renegotiation and referendum.

“The civil service is working to help me deliver those things. Now, if we fail to deliver them and we have to take a different stance, then that is a new situation,” he said.

Arron Banks, co-founder of “out” campaign group Leave.EU said Cameron would not be taken seriously in his renegotiation if he was not prepared to walk away from the bloc.

“David Cameron’s lack of a plan for withdrawal tells the EU, and voters, that he has no intention of leaving, guaranteeing that the deal he does finally produce won’t be worth the paper it’s written on,” he said.

Cameron, who travelled to Germany and Hungary last week to hold talks on his proposed reforms, said he was confident a deal could be reached on what has proved the biggest sticking point – his plans to curb welfare payments to EU migrants.

He said he believed the “massive prize” of reforming Britain’s relationship with the 28-nation bloc and staying a member was closer than it had been and he was hopeful of striking a deal at a meeting of EU leaders next month.


Egypt holds first parliament in 3 years

Egypt’s first parliament in more than three years has held its opening session after a court dissolved the previous legislature dominated by Islamists.


The 596 deputies in the parliament, which is heavily dominated by supporters of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, swore an oath of loyalty to the constitution.

The parliament is also expected to elect its president at the close of Sunday’s session.

The last parliament, elected after the 2011 uprising against dictator Hosni Mubarak and dominated by Islamists, was dissolved in mid-2012 after a court ruling voided the elections.

That led to a constitutional crisis which inflamed tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood, led by the country’s first elected president Mohammed Morsi, and the secular opposition.

The struggle culminated in mass demonstrations against Morsi.

Al-Sissi, who was then the army chief, stepped in to oust the Islamist leader.

Authorities say the parliamentary election was the last step in a roadmap to restore democracy after alleged abuses under Morsi.

The majority of members of the new parliament are independent, most of them avowed supporters of al-Sissi.

The largest single party, the centre-right Free Egyptians Party founded by Christian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, holds 65 seats.

The leader of the only opposition party to win seats, Mohammed Abu al-Ghar of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, on Saturday charged that the elections had been “engineered.”

The country’s powerful security services had exerted pressure in the selection of candidates, Abu al-Ghar said in an interview with the El Watan newspaper.


More than 100,000 attend 29th Summernats

Organisers insist Summernats remains purely an automotive event, despite being a boon for the local sex industry.


Reports emerged that more than 100 extra adult entertainers were brought to the ACT to meet the demand during the four-day street car festival, while Canberra sex shops also reported a spike in sales.

But event co-owner Andy Lopez said that had nothing to do with the family-friendly festival.

“We stage an automotive event and what people do outside of that is their own business,” he said on Sunday.

More than 100,000 people poured through the gates for the 29th edition of Summernats.

Thousands more tuned in online via a live stream, including a fan from Madagascar.

The event wrapped up on Sunday, with Sydney’s John Saad and his fully-customised 1972 Mazda RX3 crowned grand champion.

The car came close to winning last year, but a late failed alternator cruelled his chances.

“It was disappointing, but I came back and we finished what we started last year,” he told AAP, carrying his sword trophy.

Mr Saad spent five years – and an unspeakable amount of money – building the winning car.

He plans to bring his other love, a Ford XY Falcon, to next year’s Summernats but as a cruiser only.

“It’ll be more lapping and enjoying myself, not stressing over shows anymore,” he said.

Six-time V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup made a guest appearance on Sunday, showing off his Holden’s 2016 Red Bull livery with a colourful burnout display.

The once-wild event was largely incident free, with ACT Policing reporting no major incidents.

On Thursday night, a contract worker was hospitalised with burns after methanol ignited at a refuelling depot inside Exhibition Park.

Two days later a restored 1970 Torana was reported stolen, but was later found nearby with minor damage.

Police also warned of a scam involving stolen wristbands, which were being sold for $20.

Overall, Mr Lopez declared Summernats 29 a success.

“What a fantastic event. We’ve had beautiful weather, amazing cars and terrific crowds,” he said.


Munro fireworks likely to cement selection

Colin Munro’s thunderous innings against Sri Lanka will be difficult for New Zealand’s selectors to ignore when they settle on their team for the World Twenty20 tournament, says captain Kane Williamson.


Munro was virtually on trial in the series, which the Black Caps won 2-0, and he made the most with two key innings, including Sunday’s record-breaking 50 off 14 balls at Eden Park.

The left-hander blitzed the second-fastest half-century by any player in the shortened form to cap a nine-wicket win.

It followed a more cultivated 36 off 26 in the three-run win at Mt Maunganui on Thursday.

Williamson’s unbeaten 32 in Auckland was shunted firmly into the background as fellow opener Martin Guptill (63 off 25) and Munro unleashed their two-man highlight reel on the way to 1-147 off 10 overs.

“Geez, it was incredible,” Williamson said.

“After our first half, I don’t know what those two were thinking but I thought it was going to be a scrap.

“We’ve seen Guppy do it all summer and to see Munners out-do him was pretty special. It was certainly unbelievable to watch.”

Williamson isn’t on the selection panel, but he hinted Munro is a good chance to be on the plane to India for the World T20 in March.

The 28-year-old has blasted domestic attacks this summer, but only been a sporadic member of New Zealand sides in the last three years.

“You want to pick match-winners,” Williamson said.

“Certain guys in certain areas, we see that it could benefit the team and the sort of cricket that we want to play.”

Munro says his innings, which featured seven sixes, is an example of what can be achieved when the mind is clear and not compromised by thoughts of premeditated shots.

He was pleased to play two different types innings at first drop, showing his promotion up the order was warranted.

“The innings at the Mount was a lot more mature than I’ve played in the past, where I probably would have thrown my wicket away,” he said.

“Here, I was waiting for the ball to be in the zone, watching the ball hard and swinging hard.

“I’ve shown glimpses of what I can do and it was pleasing to do it on the international stage, rather than just domestic level.”


‘Baby life savers’ ready for the beach

It’s Saturday morning at Adelaide’s Semaphore beach and 30 new classmates are in their first lesson with Surf Life Saving South Australia.


Some of the group can’t yet walk.

Others aren’t quite old enough to know sand isn’t a snack.

But they’re not, according to Surf Life Saving Chief Executive Clare Harris, too young to learn the basics of beach safety.

“We’ve got qualified instructors that are here on the beach that are teaching the kids those water safety skills, [and] also the parents,” she said.

Surf Babies and Little lifesavers aim to give even the youngest beachgoers a safe introduction to the ocean.

The two new pilot programs are designed for children from six months to four years old.

Older children will learn more specific skills, such as what to do in an emergency, and to tread carefully around wildlife.

Belinda Schiphorst enrolled her eight-month old daughter, anticipating the youngster will spend a lot of her life around water.

“There are risks, and that’s part of the education,” she said.

“You need to know what they are, and how to deal with them.”

It’s a strong message of safety that comes less than two weeks after a beachside tragedy, where two 11-year-old boys drowned off an Adelaide beach.

Last summer, 89 people drowned in Australian waters.

Ms Harris said all beachgoers should be aware of the risks and understand how to stay safe in the water.

“We keep delivering that message, and we really need people to hear that message, and that is for people to swim at patrolled beaches, between the red and yellow flags.” 


US flies B-52 bomber over South Korea

The United States deployed a B-52 bomber on a low-level flight over its ally South Korea on Sunday, in a show of force following North Korea’s nuclear test last week.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un maintained that Wednesday’s test was of a hydrogen bomb and said it was a self-defensive step against a US threat of nuclear war.

North Korea’s fourth nuclear test angered both the United States and China, although the US government and weapons experts doubt the North’s claim that the device was a hydrogen bomb.

The B-52, based in Guam and capable of carrying nuclear weapons, was joined by two fighter planes, a US F-16 and a South Korean F-15, in a low flight over Osan Air Base near Seoul, before returning to Guam, the US military said in a statement.

The flight was “in response to recent provocative action by North Korea”, it said.

Experts believe the North’s nuclear test, which produced a seismic tremor of 5.1, too small to be a proper hydrogen bomb test, was designed to set the stage for a rare general meeting later this year of its ruling Workers’ Party, the first since 1980.

After the North’s last test, in 2013, the United States sent a pair of nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers over South Korea.

At the time, the North responded by threatening a nuclear attack on the United States.

The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and the United States has about 28,500 troops based in South Korea.

Earlier on Sunday, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA quoted Kim as saying no one had the right to criticise its nuclear tests.

“The DPRK’s H-bomb test … is a self-defensive step for reliably defending the peace on the Korean Peninsula and the regional security from the danger of nuclear war caused by the US-led imperialists,” it quoted Kim as saying.

The North’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“It is the legitimate right of a sovereign state and a fair action that nobody can criticise,” he said.

Kim’s comments were in line with the North’s official rhetoric blaming the United States for deploying nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula to justify its nuclear program but were the first by its leader since Wednesday’s blast.

The United States has said it has no nuclear weapons stationed in South Korea.

KCNA said Kim made the comments on a visit to the country’s Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces.


Stosur leads Aussie contingent in Sydney

Former world No.


1 Sam Stosur will lead four Australians into action on day two of the Sydney International at Olympic Park.

Despite battling a wrist injury that disrupted her tournament in Brisbane last week, Stosur will front up against Italian Roberta Vinci on Monday in search of momentum ahead of next week’s Australian Open.

Sydney debutant and local boy Jordan Thompson will also feature on Ken Rosewall Arena against Slovakian Martin Klizan, while John Millman takes on veteran Tommy Robredo.

New Hopman Cup champion Daria Gavrilova is also set to meet qualifier Monica Puig.

But all eyes will again be on Australia’s top-ranked female in Stosur, who was brought undone by world No.13 Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round in Brisbane.

Only once has the Gold Coast product progressed past the round of 16 in Sydney, when she was beaten by compatriot Alicia Molik in 2005.

The world No.27 will aim to rectify that record before heading to Melbourne, where, for the 13th time in her career, she’ll carry the hopes of an entire nation.

Stosur, a US Open champion, has never reached the quarter-finals in her home event.

Top seed Simona Halep, who doesn’t begin her campaign until Tuesday, said Stosur still had all the tools needed to succeed at Melbourne Park, but was familiar with the pressure of playing in front of an expectant home crowd.

“I’ve played in my country as well, (but) that was a big difference because the tournament was very small,” she said.

“When you are at home, it’s difficult with the fans. You don’t want to lose because you don’t want to disappoint the people from your home.

“I think she has the game to do everything in Melbourne. She’s already a grand slam champion, so she knows how to play the grand slams.”

Australia’s male hope, Bernard Tomic, is expected to play on Tuesday.


Four dead as ‘projectile’ hits MSF clinic in Yemen

A “projectile” has struck a clinic supported by international medical group Medecins Sans Frontieres in north Yemen killing four people, another in a series of attacks on its facilities in the war-torn country.


MSF on Sunday said it was not clear who was behind the attack that also wounded 10 other people in Shiara Hospital in the Razeh district, where the group has worked since November last year.

In a statement on its Twitter account, MSF did not identify who was killed in the attack but said three of the wounded were staff members, of whom two were in critical condition.

“This is the third severe incident in the last 3 months. Our teams struggle on a daily basis to ensure the respect of health facilities,” MSF wrote.

An earlier tweet by the group described the projectile as a rocket.

Another MSF supported hospital bombed in #Yemen causing at least 4 dead, 10 injured pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/3HE1anODjh

— MSF International (@MSF) January 10, 2016

Regional MSF operations chief Raquel Ayora said all warring parties are regularly informed of the GPS coordinates of the medical sites where the group works, and that MSF was in constant dialogue with them.

“There is no way that anyone with the capacity to carry out an air strike or launch a rocket would not have known that the Shiara Hospital was a functioning health facility providing critical services and supported by MSF,” she said.

MSF said Saudi-led air strikes hit another of its health facilities elsewhere in the province in October last year, wrecking the building and lightly wounding two staff members.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been fighting the Iran-allied Houthi group in Yemen, a campaign Riyadh says is aimed at repelling at what it sees as creeping Iranian influence in the Arabian Peninsula region.

Nearly 6000 people have been killed since the Saudi coalition entered Yemen’s conflict in March, almost half of them civilians.

The war has exacerbated hunger and disease in Yemen, the region’s poorest country.

In a separate incident, an intelligence colonel was killed in a drive-by shooting in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden on Sunday, a security official source said, in an attack claimed by Islamic State militants.

It was the latest in a series of assassination and bombings by militants belonging to the Yemen branch of the ultra-violent group which have undermined security in Aden, the temporary capital of the embattled Yemeni central government.