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Found 58 results

  1. Barnaby Joyce ? Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources ? speaks during a media conference in the town of Armidale, Australia, February 23, 2018. AAP/Marlon Dalton/via REUTERS SYDNEY: Australia?s deputy prime minister said on Friday he will resign as leader of his party after weeks of pressure over an affair with a staffer that brought him into open conflict with his premier and a new allegation of sexual harassment emerged. Barnaby Joyce said he will step down on Monday as leader of the National party, the junior partner in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull?s centre-right coalition, after resisting earlier calls to quit over the affair with his former media secretary, with whom he is expecting a child. He will remain in parliament, safeguarding Turnbull?s shaky one-seat majority. Joyce?s decision came after a falling-out with Turnbull, who is in the United States for meetings with President Donald Trump and who declined to leave him in charge while he is out of the country. Turnbull called Joyce?s affair a ?shocking error of judgment? last week, to which Joyce responded by calling Turnbull ?inept?. Joyce, a practising Catholic, has been married for 24 years and has campaigned on family values. He said he decided to quit after the new allegation of sexual harassment emerged on Friday. He denied any wrongdoing but acknowledged the allegation had hastened his decision. ?I will say on Monday morning at the party room I will step down as the leader of the National Party and deputy leader of Australia,? Joyce said. Joyce, whose support base rests in Australia?s traditionally conservative rural areas, wore his trademark Akubra bushman?s hat as he spoke to journalists in Armidale, the farming town he represents about 485 km (300 miles) northeast of Sydney. Little-known outside Australia, Joyce made international headlines in 2015 when he deported two dogs brought into Australia by U.S. actor Johnny Depp without the proper paperwork, a row that became known as the ?war on terrier?. ?Disunity is death? Joyce had only been back in parliament less than a month after falling victim to a citizenship crisis that has dogged Turnbull?s government. Australia?s High Court deemed Joyce was a New Zealand citizen in October, forcing Turnbull to rule in minority until Joyce re-contested and won his seat again. National Party federal director Ben Hindmarsh said on Friday the party had received the sexual harassment allegation against Joyce but declined to give any details. A spokesman said Joyce believed the claim to be ?spurious and defamatory? and had asked for it to be referred to police. The National Party will now elect a new leader, who will also become deputy prime minister under the terms of the coalition agreement with Turnbull?s Liberal party. Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack and David Gillespie, the assistant minister for children and families, both said they would contest the leadership ballot on Monday. Joyce?s resignation will potentially heal the rift between the Liberal and National parties, a political alliance that has existed for nearly 100 years. Nick Economou, senior lecturer in Australian politics at Monash University in Melbourne, said it would have been impossible for both Turnbull and Joyce to return to parliament next week after they fell out. ?In Australian politics, disunity is death,? Economou said. Two-thirds of Australian voters wanted Joyce to resign, The Australian newspaper?s Newspoll showed earlier this week. Joyce?s decision to resign should get the row off the front pages, offering Turnbull at least temporary respite, although Joyce will now sit on the backbench with former prime minister Tony Abbott, the man Turnbull ousted in a 2015 party-room coup. Freed from Cabinet restraints, Abbott has criticized Turnbull?s policies from the backbench, although Joyce said he would not destabilize the government. Turnbull must head back to the polls by May 2019.
  2. Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates with the trophy as he poses after winning the final against Croatia's Marin Cilic. ? Reuters MELBOURNE: Roger Federer survived a second set ?freeze? and an onslaught from Croatia?s Marin Cilic to claim a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday. The Swiss maestro wobbled at times in the face of some fierce resistance before winning 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1. With the stadium roof closed to keep out the withering Melbourne heat, the 36-year-old grabbed the first set in 24 minutes as a 20th grand slam title looked a formality. But Cilic, who suffered a nightmare in last year?s Wimbledon final against Federer when blisters wrecked his chances, was not going to let his first Australian Open final slide by in a flash. Despite fighting a lone battle against Federer and most of the crowd, he reeled off five consecutive games to extend the champion into a deciding set. The outcome hung in the balance but Federer recovered his mojo after saving two break points at the start of the fifth and was roared home to victory by an adoring crowd. Despite all his titles and accolades Federer was overcome with emotion during his victory speech. ?The fairytale continues for us, for me, it?s incredible,? Federer, who has equalled Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson?s Australian Open haul, said on court as wife Mirka and Australian great Rod Laver recorded to the moment with their mobile phones. ?I got off to a flyer but I froze in the tiebreak and lost that second set and lost control of the match. ?I got a bit lucky tonight I think.? Federer?s renaissance has earned him three grand slams in the past 12 months after a five-year drought, emulating the feat of Ken Rosewall who also claimed three after his 35th birthday. Cilic, who will rise to a career-high three in the rankings, managed only four points in the first four games, but despite precious little support amongst the shamelessly pro-Federer crowd, made sure the tournament ended with a proper contest. ?It was an amazing journey for me. It could have been the best two weeks of my life,? Cilic said. ?I had the chance at the beginning of the fifth but he played a great match.? Temperatures in Melbourne had hovered in the high 30s Celsius all day but the humidity felt less suffocating than during Saturday?s humdinger of a women?s final. So it was a surprise when the match started with the roof shut, a decision tournament organisers defended by issuing a statement saying ?Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT)? readings had triggered the ?extreme heat policy?. While Melbourne Park cooked, Federer was as cool as a cucumber in the relatively benign conditions on court. He broke in the first game when he hoisted a lob towards the roof and Cilic framed a smash into the net. The 29-year-old Cilic dropped serve again two games later and gained sympathetic cheers when he finally registered on the scoreboard in the fifth game. Cilic began to settle but still had to fend off break points in the second set at 1-1, 2-2 and 4-4. He had a glorious chance to level the match against the run of play when Federer served a double fault at 30-30 in the 10th game, but he buried a routine backhand into the net.
  3. MELBOURNE: Caroline Wozniacki finally lifted her first Grand Slam title at the 43rd attempt as she beat Simona Halep 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-4 to win the Australian Open on Saturday. The Dane, who will take over as world number one, burst into tears as she secured the title against the battling Romanian top seed on her first match point of a gruelling, epic encounter. Both players needed medical attention on court before the Dane prevailed in 2hr 49min in energy-sapping hot and humid conditions on Rod Laver Arena. Wozniacki, 27, has long carried the unwanted moniker of best player never to win a major, having reached the US Open final in 2009 and 2014, and first becoming number one in 2010. Both of them were in their third major final - their first in Australia - and both had saved match points in earlier rounds to get there. Wozniacki started the stronger and broke Halep's opening service game with the early evening temperature still above 30 Celsius. The Dane sped into a 3-0 lead behind a consistent first serve. Wozniacki had not won a set in either of her previous two Grand Slam final appearances and tightened visibly serving for this one at 5-3. Halep aggressively took advantage and moved to three break points at 0-40. A big second serve and a first ace saved two of them but the relentless Halep forced Wozniacki long with a sliced forehand and the final was back on serve. In the tiebreak the Dane went 4-1 up before a second mini-break and two solid serves gave her the tiebreak 7-2. Wozniacki was growing in confidence and Halep needed to save four break points at 1-1 in the second set in a brutal game that lasted 11 minutes. Worrying scenes Soon after Halep signalled to her coach Darren Cahill in the player's box that she wasn't feeling well and there were worrying scenes as she had her blood pressure taken and an ice towel applied in the next changeover. Halep re-emerged with her energy drained and needed the luckiest of net cords to hold for 4-3. Cramping and almost limping, she decided to stand and deliver in the next game, keeping the points short. Incredibly the tactic paid off as she broke Wozniacki with a ripping drive up the line and served at 5-3 to level the match. Wozniacki forced two break back points which Halep saved, before levelling on her third set point. The tournament's extreme heat policy was invoked meaning the players took a 10-minute break before the start of the third set. When they resumed Wozniacki held before wearing Halep down with a series of long rallies and securing the break for 2-0 as the match clock hit the two-hour mark. Romania´s Simona Halep hits a return against Denmark´s Caroline Wozniacki during the women´s singles final on day 13 of the Australian Open. -AFP Halep dug deep and got it back to 2-1 on her sixth break point of a gruelling game when Wozniacki double-faulted after almost 12 minutes. Both players were feeling the heat and two more breaks of serve were exchanged as they struggled to find any rhythm until Halep held for 3-3. Wozniacki´s weaker forehand let her down twice from deuce and Halep led for the first time in the match at 4-3. Now it was the turn of the Dane to call the physio. With her left knee freshly strapped she broke Halep yet again to level at 4-4. Finally, having not held since the first game of the third set Wozniacki managed it again and crucially led 5-4 with Halep having to serve to stay in the match. She couldn´t manage it and a backhand into the net brought an end to her brave challenge.
  4. Halep and Wozniacki face off in Australian Open final MELBOURNE: Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki face off for the Australian Open title on Saturday in a culmination of two weeks of intense tennis that will see a new name engraved on the trophy. The Romanian is the top seed and the Dane number two, with the evening decider on Rod Laver Arena having an extra enticement for both players with the number one world ranking at stake. Defeat for Halep would see her toppled by Wozniacki, who is currently second. Defending men´s champion Roger Federer plays Croat Marin Cilic in the men´s final on Sunday. The Swiss ace, who leads Cilic 8-1 in their previous meetings, is targeting an incredible 20th Grand Slam title and his sixth in Australia. In contrast, Halep and Wozniacki are looking for their first. They are both in their third major decider, but have never won. Wozniacki, 27, has long carried the unwanted moniker of best player never to claim a major, having reached the US Open final in 2009 and 2014, and first becoming number one in 2010. She is in her 43rd Grand Slam appearance and desperate to get off the mark. "I always believed in myself," she said. "I knew that if I can stay healthy and I work hard, my game is good enough for it." Her hard work was rewarded with a renaissance in 2017, reaching eight finals -- winning in Tokyo and at the season-ending WTA Finals, where she banished another hoodoo by registering a first career win over Venus Williams. She continued her sparkling form at the start of this year and has 10 wins and only one defeat, to Julia Goerges in the warm-up Auckland final. The gritty Halep, 26, made her only previous Grand Slam final appearances at Roland Garros in 2014 and 2017. The Romanian has only beaten Wozniacki twice in their six previous matches, the most recent meeting ending in a 6-0, 6-2 battering by the Dane at the 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore. "The way she´s playing, she´s not missing," said Halep of Wozniacki. "She´s running very well. So she´s a strong opponent. I played her many times. I won against her few times. "It´s going to be a different match. Emotions are there. Pressures are there for both of us. We´ll see what is going to happen."
  5. Defending champion Roger Federer strolled into the Australian Open final in a bitter-sweet win after Chung Hyeon's retired injured in their semi-final on Friday. The Swiss star was leading 6-1, 5-2 when the South Korean called it quits with foot blisters and will now face Marin Cilic in Sunday's final. Chung, the first South Korean man or woman to play in a Grand Slam semi-final, was treated in a medical timeout for the left foot problem two games earlier. But it came as a big surprise when the 21-year-old walked to the net at 30-30 and trailing 2-5 after 1hr 02mins in the second set to concede defeat. It put Federer into his seventh Australian final as he chases his sixth Melbourne title and 20th Grand Slam victory. Federer leads 2014 US Open champion Cilic 8-1 in their meetings. The Swiss maestro now has a 30-13 win-loss record in Grand Slam semi-finals and has yet to drop a set in this year's Australian Open. "You couldn't tell until the end," he said of Chung's injury problems. "That's probably why a lot of people are stunned (he retired). "I could tell something was wrong before he took the injury timeout, but he has a great composure. "I think he is already a great player, but we are talking next level excellence and I think he will achieve that. "We will see much more of him. Top 10 for sure. The rest we will see." It was a muted semi-final with the Rod Laver Arena retractable roof closed for rain further improving Federer's chances given his indoor record. He broke Chung's opening service and twice more to romp away with the first set in just 33 minutes as the Korean made a flurry of errors. It got no better in the second set with Federer again breaking in the fourth game before the trainer was called on to the court to treat Chung for his foot blisters. Chung only lasted a bit more than two games before pulling out to a stunned silence. "In the second set I felt he was starting to get a bit slower, fighting with a blister," Federer said. "I've played with blisters in the past a lot, and it hurts a lot, and at one point it is just too much and you can't take it anymore.
  6. What a day for Chung Hyeon/Australian Open Twitter MELBOURNE: History-making Chung Hyeon became the first South Korean to reach a Grand Slam semi-final and the lowest-ranked player in 14 years to get to the last four at the Australian Open on Wednesday. Ranked 58, he needed six match points before completing a clear-cut 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 win over unseeded American Tennys Sandgren on Rod Laver Arena in 2hr 28min. He will face either defending champion Roger Federer or Tomas Berdych in Friday´s semi-final. In beating Sandgren, Chung, 21, became the first man or woman from his country to make the last four of a Grand Slam and the lowest-ranked men´s semi-finalist in Melbourne since Russia´s Marat Safin (No.86) in 2004. The rising star joins Briton Kyle Edmund as the first unseeded men´s semi-finalists in Melbourne since Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008. His achievement comes after his monumental wins over six-time champion Novak Djokovic and world No.4 Alexander Zverev to herald his arrival to big-time tennis. "I´m really surprised to make the semis, I beat Sascha (Zverev), Novak and other good players. I have never played in the second week at a Grand Slam," he said. Chung said he was inspired by Japan´s Kei Nishikori, the 2014 US Open finalist, who blazed the trail for Asian tennis. "All Asian players look to Kei and we are trying to follow him. He´s the pride of Asian players," he said. Asked who he wanted to face in the semi-final, Federer or Berdych, Chung replied diplomatically with a smile: "It´s 50-50. They´re two really good players, so I don´t know who´s going to win." Better net play Chung had a few nervy minutes before he sealed the victory. In a tense 11-minute final game he closed it out on his sixth match point after Sandgren threw everything at the South Korean to stay in the match. "I think in the last game many things come together. If I win one more point, I make history in Korea. I was thinking like that," Chung said. "I was thinking about the ceremony, something like that. Anyway, I tried to stay calm because the match was not finished." Nicknamed "The Professor" due to his trademark thick white-rimmed glasses, he showed the benefit of his improved net play despite preferring to operate from the baseline. "I´m just trying to work on playing on the net. In the pre-season and all the time when I practice, I´m just trying to play more at the net," said Chung, who won 21 points off 27 trips to the net against Sandgren. "If I go to the net, I can save more energy." Chung, who won the 2015 ATP Most Improved Player award, jumped out of the blocks with an early break before taking the opening set in 37 minutes, serving at a high 85 percent. His play from the baseline took reaction time away from the American and helped him control the points. Weak eyesight no hindrance for 'Professor' Chung The South Korean is in Australian Open quarterfinals after the biggest win of his career against 12-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic Chung broke in the opening game of the second set with an exquisite backhand across the net clipping the line. But Sandgren began to get more into the contest and broke back in the fourth when Chung´s forehand was wide. Sandgren broke again in the eighth and was serving for the second set before he was broken with a netted forehand. Chung maintained his level in the tiebreaker getting to set point before he forced a Sandgren forehand long. Chung broke in the fourth game of the final set and but temporarily his victory charged was held up before he got home on his sixth match point.
  7. Aisam ul Haq Qureshi and Marcin Matkowski/File photo Pakistan?s tennis ace Aisam ul Haq Qureshi and his partner Marcin Matkowski of Poland crashed out of Australian Open after suffering a straight-sets defeat at the hands of famed American duo of Bob and Mike Bryan in men?s doubles quarterfinals. The Bryan brothers kept their hopes of a 17th grand slam title alive after wrapping up a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Aisam and Matkowski at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday. The American duo took one hour and six minutes to earn the win. The brothers led 5-0 after only 16 minutes, before the 15th seeded Aisam and Matkowski gave a much tougher test in the second set. Aisam and Matkowski were given a walkover into the quarterfinals after the pair of Radu Albot and Hyeon Chung retired in the round of 16 on Sunday. Aisam became the first ever Pakistani tennis star to reach the quarterfinals of Australian Open. Aisam and Matkowski defeated the Brazilian and Filipino duo of Demoliner and Treat Huey in straight sets with a score of 7-6, 6-4 in the first round. In the second round they beat Sweden?s Robert Lindstedt and Croatia?s Franko Skugor with a matching score of 7-6, 6-4.
  8. The defending champion faces Tomas Berdych in quarterfinals. Photo: Reuters MELBOURNE: Ice-cool Roger Federer roared into Australian Open quarterfinals with Tomas Berdych Monday as former champion Angelique Kerber stuttered into an enticing clash with Madison Keys. The defending champion swatted aside one-time training partner Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 to make the last eight for an incredible 14th time. The Swiss maestro, 36, has made at least the last eight every year since 2004, bar a hiccup in 2015. "He played very well," the 19-time Grand Slam champion said of the Hungarian. "You needed to have quick ideas and execute well today." Second seed Federer will now play fellow veteran Berdych, a semi-finalist in 2014 and 2015 at his most successful major, who demolished Italy´s Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. The 32-year-old, who is on his way back from back problems, lost to the five-time Australian champion in the third round last year and the odds are heavily stacked again him. Of the 13 quarter-finals Federer has contested in Melbourne, he has won the lot. "I have no choice to choose the opponent and may the better man win," said the 19th seeded Czech. "I am going to get myself ready, it´s all I can do, and prepare the best I can." Germany´s Kerber is the only Grand Slam champion left among the women, and she was given a big fright as she chases her second Melbourne Park crown after beating Serena Williams in 2016. After crushing Maria Sharapova in the last round, she came up against gritty Taiwanese veteran Hsieh Su-wei who stunned the 21st seed by taking the first set on Rod Laver Arena. At one point Kerber was serving to stay in the match, but she bounced back to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. "Credit to her, she played unbelievable. I was running everywhere," said Kerber, who had a poor 2017 after starting the year as world number one. "I was just trying to focus on every point." Hsieh, ranked 88, was always going to be a threat after knocking out world number three Garbine Muguruza and the dangerous Agnieszka Radwanska en route to the fourth round. The win set Kerber up with a clash against American Keys, a semi-finalist in 2015 who has found a new lease of life under the guidance of former great Lindsay Davenport. Enjoying the job Seeded 17, she flattened French eighth seed Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2 in just 68 impressive minutes. "I feel like I´m playing just solid, consistent tennis," said Keys, a US Open finalist last year. "I think today was a good example of that. I think I served well. I think I returned well." The 22-year-old added: "Right now I´m definitely really enjoying my job." Whoever wins that match will have a potential semi-final against world number one Simona Halep, although the Romanian first has to get past Japan´s Naomi Osaka on Margaret Court Arena. The final women´s match sees sixth seed Karolina Pliskova take on fellow Czech Barbora Strycova, seeded 20. Novak Djokovic is also in action in a night match as he looks to reach the last eight in Melbourne for a 10th time, with a tough test against talented Chung Hyeon. The glasses-wearing South Korean, ranked 58, upset fourth seed Alexander Zverev in five sets in the round of 16 and Djokovic is wary. "He´s playing great. He´s fit. He doesn´t have too many holes in his game," he said. The winner will face either Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem or American surprise packet Tennys Sandgren.
  9. Aisam and Marcin Matkowski/File photo Pakistan?s tennis ace Aisam ul Haq Qureshi and his Polish partner Marcin Matkowski will face the famed American duo of Mike and Bob Bryan in the Australian Open men?s doubles quarterfinals on Tuesday. Aisam and Matkowski were given a walkover into the quarterfinals after the pair of Radu Albot and Hyeon Chung retired in the round of 16 on Sunday. The 15th seeded duo of Aisam and Matkowski will take on the Bryan brothers at Rod Laver Arena at 11am Melbourne time (5am Pakistan time). ?1st on tomorrow against the Bryan brothers @AustralianOpen 2018, looking fwd to play on the Rod Laver Arena for the first time,? tweeted Aisam earlier today. Meanwhile, veterans Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth breezed into the doubles quarterfinals after their opponents Pablo Andujar and Albert Ramos-Vinolas retired in the third round. Hewitt, 36, was coerced out of retirement by his friend Groth to play alongside him in what will be his farewell tournament.
  10. Maria Sharapova in action at Australian Open 2018/Reuters MELBOURNE: Angelique Kerber crushed Maria Sharapova in straight sets in a battle of former champions at the Australian Open on Saturday. The 2016 winner from Germany and 21st seed roared past the unseeded Russian 2008 champion 6-1, 6-3 in 64 minutes to reach the last 16. "I was just trying to enjoy every point," said Kerber after snuffing out Sharapova´s hopes in only her second Grand Slam tournament back since serving a 15-month doping ban. The hugely anticipated match-up of the only two Australian Open winners -- and indeed Grand Slam champions -- left in the women´s draw got top billing Saturday night on Rod Laver Arena. "I have so many good memories on this court," said Kerber, who won her first Grand Slam title there two years ago when she beat Serena Williams in the final. "I knew before the match it would be a tough one." Angelique Kerber crushed Maria Sharapova in straight sets to reach the last 16 Sharapova only returned to the top 50 two weeks ago and Kerber to the top 20 last week after being on top of the rankings as defending champion in Melbourne a year ago. Sharapova reached the semi-finals in Shenzhen to start the year but Kerber´s form has been outstanding heading into the year´s first major. The German enjoyed an unbeaten singles campaign in the Hopman Cup, won in Sydney and surrendered only nine games in the first two rounds in Melbourne. The pair had played each other on seven occasions before Saturday, with Kerber edging the series 4-3 including their previous two meetings, the last of which came on the Stuttgart clay in 2015. Kerber sent an early reminder of her recent superiority, breaking the Russian and then holding serve to go 2-0 up for the loss of just two points. Sharapova finally got on the board, but flawless Kerber was finding winners almost at will and broke again to take a 4-1 advantage in just 23 minutes. Six minutes later and a third break, this time to love, brought the first set to the German who celebrated her 30th birthday earlier this week by taking it with just two unforced errors. Sharapova was facing the biggest test of her comeback as the pattern continued at the start of the second. A double fault followed by a sloppy backhand way beyond the baseline handed Kerber a 2-0 lead. Sharapova´s form may have been patchy since her comeback but her fighting qualities have never been in doubt. Almost down and out, she broke Kerber for the first time and held to get back on serve at 2-2. But Kerber´s relentless accuracy finally told at 4-3 in the second. Sharapova netted twice to hand the decisive break to Kerber who served out with ease to seal the victory. Kerber will face either 26th seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland or Taiwan´s Hsieh Su-wei for a place in the quarter-finals. Berdych ends Del Potro´s run Veteran Tomas Berdych reached the round of 16 for the 10th time at the Australian Open with a straight sets win over Juan Martin Del Potro on Saturday. The 32-year Czech eliminated the 12th-seeded Argentine 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in 2hr 16min on Hisense Arena. Berdych, who has played in the semi-finals twice in Melbourne, will face Italian journeyman Fabio Fognini in their first Grand Slam match in Monday´s fourth round. Berdych served up 20 aces, broke serve seven times and hit 52 winners with 28 unforced errors. "I think I was well prepared and I stuck with my plan and I´m glad as I can stand here as a winner today," Berdych said on court. "Juan Martin is a great competitor and I´m glad he is back after all the injuries that he´s had. Tennis was missing him and it´s great that he´s back."
  11. MELBOURNE: World number two Caroline Wozniacki kept her bid for a first Grand Slam title on course as she stormed into the last 16 of the Australian Open on Friday. The second seed only scraped through to the third round by the skin of her teeth, saving two match points at 5-1 down in the third set against 119th ranked Jana Fett. But on Friday she gave her most assured performance of the tournament so far, cruising past Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 26 minutes. Wozniacki had called her second round comeback her "greatest escape" but she was never in need of a rescue act as she easily dealt with the challenge from the number 30 seed, who was playing in the third round for the first time. "Right now I'm playing with house money, playing with nothing to lose," said the Dane. "I was already out of the tournament." And it showed as the former world number one was fast out of the blocks, breaking Bertens´ opening service game. Apart from one dropped serve of her own in the first set and a row with the umpire over a slippery patch on the court, she remained composed and in control throughout, taking the opener in 41 minutes. Wozniacki, unlike her previous match, kept the unforced errors to a minimum, committing just 12, while forcing her opponent into making 34. The Dane, who is drawn to face fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the semi-final, raced into a 4-0 lead in the second. She had a brief moment of anxiety at 0-30 when leading 4-2 but banged down two unreturned first serves to quell any nerves. Serving for the match, however, Wozniacki wobbled again. She had to save four break points and at one point slammed her racquet to the ground after another altercation with the umpire about an overrule. Eventually, she secured victory in on her fourth match point. She next faces 19th seed Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia for a place in the quarter-finals and said she expected a similar challenge. "She has a good forehand and a good serve so I will need to be ready for everything. Serve well and get my returns in," said Wozniacki.
  12. Ukraine's Elina Svitolina embraces her compatriot Marta Kostyuk after the match on day 5 of the 2018 Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday/Reuters MELBOURNE: Fourth seed Elina Svitolina ended the Australian Open hopes of young teenage pretender Marta Kostyuk on another searing hot day Friday, as organisers defended the tournament heat policy. Marta Kostyuk, at just 15, was the youngest Melbourne Park third round contestant since "Swiss Miss" Martina Hingis in 1996, and was hailed after her previous win as "the future of tennis". But she still has a lot to learn with fellow Ukrainian Svitolina handing out a 6-2, 6-2 lesson. "She´s definitely got a bright future," said Svitolina, adding: "It´s very special for me to get past the third round." Svitolina will next play another qualifier -- big-serving Czech Denisa Allertova who romped past Magda Linette 6-1, 6-4 -- for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday. In a tournament shorn of seeds, 81st ranked Petra Martic also swept into the round of 16, celebrating her 27th birthday by holding off a gritty challenge from Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum. The Croat battled a succession of powerful winners from her opponent to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Her reward is a match against Belgium´s Elise Mertens, who beat struggling Alize Cornet of France in two tough sets. Cornet was among players wilting in the 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) heat, with a doctor taking her blood pressure early in the second set as she succumbed to the baking weather. No matches have been called off so far at the opening Grand Slam of the year despite the soaring temperatures, with tournament organiser Craig Tiley defending the decision. "The policy is from consultation with the players," he said. "These are professional athletes. "We are at the end of the day an outdoor event. We want it to stay an outdoor event as long as possible but at the same time ensuring that the health and wellbeing of players is taken care of." Organisers will only active the extreme heat policy and halt play or close roofs when the temperature exceeds 40 Celsius and the wet bulb globe temperature index hits 32.5 Celsius. On Thursday, Novak Djokovic described the conditions as "brutal", complaining it was hard to breathe and they were "right on the limit". Not impressed Kyle Edmund was the first man to reach the round of 16, overcoming the elements in a fighting five-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili. The 49th-ranked Briton fought back to take the last two sets and win 7-6 (7/0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5. He is the only British man in the main draw after Andy Murray´s injury withdrawal and will play either Croatia´s 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic or Italian Andreas Seppi in the fourth round. Rafael Nadal will face his stiffest challenge so far in a night match on Margaret Court Arena when he takes on Damir Dzumhur, the first seed he has played in his comeback from a knee problem. The Spanish world number one has so far been dominant in his search for a 17th Grand Slam title, but it is expected to be a tougher task against a player ranked 25. Despite being second seed, Denmark´s Caroline Wozniacki has not impressed so far, needing to save two match points and rally from 5-1 down in an epic third set against little-known Jana Fett in round two. She is the late match on Rod Laver Arena against Dutch 30th seed Kiki Bertens and will be looking to reassert herself. Men´s third seed Grigor Dimitrov also has plenty to prove after a huge second-round fright from a qualifier, who pushed him to five sets. The Bulgarian world number three takes on Russian rising star Andrey Rublev. An intriguing night match pits Australian Nick Kyrgios against French veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
  13. Maria Sharapova acknowledges the crowd after winning her match/Australian Open Twitter MELBOURNE: Former champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber turned on the style to sweep into the Australian Open second round Tuesday, but it was curtains for lanky Canadian Milos Raonic. With temperatures heating up in Melbourne, the two Grand Slam winners wasted little time on court. Sharapova, still working her way back from a 15-month ban for taking the performance-enhancing substance meldonium, showed glimpses of the tennis that made her a five-time major winner. The 2008 Melbourne Park champion, now ranked 48, battled past Germany´s Tatjana Maria 6-1, 6-4 and will next play either 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia or American Varvara Lepchenko. "I cherish these moments. I love it here," said the Russian, who returned from her drugs ban in April last year. "It´s been a couple of years and I wanted it to be really meaningful to me." Fellow former world number one Kerber, who won the tournament in 2016, was also impressive in dismissing Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4. "2017, I have said goodbye already, I am not looking back," she said after a forgettable last season that saw her relinquish the number one spot and slide down the rankings. She is now on a 10-match win streak after a perfect early season. "I´m just trying to enjoy it again on court," said the German, who turns 30 this week. Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova and eighth seed Caroline Garcia also progressed, in contrast to the other side of the draw that saw Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Coco Vandeweghe crash out on Monday. American woes continued with Madison Brengle sent packing by British ninth seed Johanna Konta. Auckland Classic champion Fernando Verdasco was among men to make the second round, with a straight-sets win over 20th seed Roberto Bautista Agut. But Raonic, who has made at least the last eight over the past three years in Melbourne, was bundled out by 86th-ranked Slovakian Lukas Lacko in four sets. It was his earliest Grand Slam exit in seven years as he fights back from a wrist injury. Good chance Roger Federer, rated as favourite to win his 20th Grand Slam title even at the venerable age of 36, makes his entrance in a night match on Rod Laver Arena. The second seeded Swiss, who is coming off an extraordinary 2017, when he won a fifth Australian Open title and a record eighth at Wimbledon, faces Slovenia´s Aljaz Bedene. Twelve-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic is also in action, amid reports he is leading a push to create an independent players union to fight for even more prize money. The Serb, returning from a long break with an elbow injury, plays American Donald Young on Margaret Court Arena. Fellow injury-plagued star Stan Wawrinka also makes his comeback from injury Tuesday. World number one Simona Halep takes the court later as she chases a first Grand Slam title, with Wimbledon champion and third seeded Garbine Muguruza making her bow in an evening match. Former world number one Pliskova was among those to move smoothly into the second round, with a steady 6-3, 6-4 win over Veronica Cepede Royg. The tall tattooed Czech, who made the quarter-final in Australia last year, was largely untroubled and is looking for a deep run at the tournament. "I´ll take it match by match and I think I have a good chance," she said. Sydney-born Konta also made the last eight in 2017 and showed no signs of her recent hip injury as she dismantled Brengle 6-3, 6-1. She can´t wait for her next match on Thursday even though temperatures are forecast to hit 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) later in the week. "I look forward to the heat, I love it," she said.
  14. Players could forfeit their prize money if they retire from first-round singles matches at the Australian Open MELBOURNE: Players could forfeit their prize money if they retire from first-round singles matches at the Australian Open, under new rules aimed at limiting the early injury withdrawals which have long caused controversy at Grand Slams. Players will also be able to claim 50 percent of their prize money if they pull out before their first match, an incentive designed to allow a replacement to play instead. With tens of thousands of dollars at stake just for playing in round one, early injury pull-outs have often caused suspicion at Grand Slams, particularly at last year´s Wimbledon. Eight players retired from the first round at the All-England Club, including the opponents of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic during the second sets of their matches on Centre Court. "A player should not go on court if he knows he should not finish," Federer said at the time, while Djokovic noted his opponent, Martin Klizan, even "had issues walking onto court" with a calf injury. Now, under new rules by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), any Grand Slam player who withdraws after 1200 local time on the Thursday before the tournament draw will still receive 50 percent of first round prize money. Their replacement -- a ´lucky loser´ from the qualifying tournament -- will get the other 50 percent of the first-round prize money. But players who do not "perform to the required professional standard" in round one, including by retiring, also risk being fined their prize money, the new rules say. ´Couldn´t care less´ Australian bad boy Bernard Tomic was fined a third of his £35,000 ($47,500) prize money for unsportsmanlike conduct at Wimbledon, after saying he felt "bored" and "couldn´t care less" following a straight-sets defeat on day one. Any repeat this year and he would lose the lot. Bernard Tomic said he felt "bored" and "couldn´t care less" following a straight-sets defeat at Wimbledon A similar controversy blew up at the Auckland Classic this week when four players pulled out before their opening matches, citing injury or illness. Simply by turning up, they were eligible for prize money and avoided a fine. Chris Kermode, executive chairman of the men´s tour, the Association of Tennis Professionals, promised a shake-up, although he accepted the players´ reasons for withdrawing. "Ranking points, player withdrawals and how we deal with that is something we´ve got to and are looking at," he told Fairfax Media in Auckland. In a separate rule change designed to get matches started more quickly, warm-up times will be strictly enforced. Players will be fined up to US$20,000 for taking more than one minute after walking on court to get to the coin toss. They will also be restricted to five minutes´ warm-up time on court, and another one minute before the first point. However, plans for a shot clock to enforce a 25-second time limit between points have been shelved, and will only be used in the qualifying tournament at Melbourne Park. New rules reverting Grand Slams to 16 seeds from the current 32 are due to come into force in 2019.
  15. Kyrgios became the second Australian to lift the trophy in the tournament?s 10-year history after Lleyton Hewitt in 2014 Nick Kyrgios beat Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-2 in the Brisbane International final on Sunday to clinch his maiden tour title on home soil and gain a big confidence boost ahead of the Australian Open. Carrying a niggling knee injury, the mercurial Australian made a slow start and was forced to save five break points before he managed to carve out own his first break in the seventh game. The 22-year-old claimed the first set before taking control of the match after his American opponent dropped serve at the start of the second set with a double fault. Kyrgios broke the big-serving Harrison again in a sublime second set display to close out the match and seal his fourth career title. He thrilled the crowd with his delightful touch at the net, while his ability to crank up the pressure with his groundstrokes threw Harrison off his game. ?I?ve got fond memories of Brisbane, played Davis Cup here and had a massive win over the US,? Kyrgios said. ?Coming here all week I felt right at home... I love playing in front of you guys even though sometimes you may not see it that way, but I do.? Kyrgios became the second Australian to lift the trophy in the tournament?s 10-year history after Lleyton Hewitt in 2014. The triumph lifts him four spots to 17th in the world rankings ahead of this month?s Australian Open. Kyrgios has often struggled to produce his best tennis at the grand slams, but he goes into the Australian Open having made a strong start to the season, including a semi-final victory over world number three Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane. The men?s field at the first grand slam of the year has already been hit by the withdrawals of five-times runner-up Andy Murray and Japan?s former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori. The participation of former champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka remains in doubt with the trio battling to overcome injury problems. The tournament begins at Melbourne Park on Jan. 15.
  16. Serena Williams of the US hits a shot during her Women's singles final match against Venus Williams of the US in the Australian Open, Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/Files MELBOURNE: Serena Williams reluctantly pulled out of this year?s Australian Open on Friday, the American saying that while she is close to regaining full fitness after giving birth to her first child in September, she is not ready to defend her title. The 36-year-old was eight weeks pregnant last year when the American triumphed for the seventh time at Melbourne Park to claim an Open-era record 23rd grand slam title and then took the rest of the year off before giving birth to a daughter. She has played just once in public since, losing to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi last week, but was still hopeful of making a remarkable return at the Australian Open until she admitted defeat a week ahead of the event. ?My coach and team always said ?only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way?. I can compete ? but I don?t want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time,? Williams said in a statement. Williams is the latest big-name player to withdraw from the year?s opening grand slam, which will be played from Jan. 15-28, with Britain?s Andy Murray (hip) and Japan?s Kei Nishikori (wrist) having already said they would not compete. There is also uncertainty over whether former champions Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the latter of which arrived in Melbourne earlier on Friday, will be fit to take to the court.
  17. Andy Murray has withdrawn from the season-opening Brisbane International and did not say whether he would be able to play the year's first Grand Slam/AFP BRISBANE: Former world number one Andy Murray has withdrawn from the season-opening Brisbane International in a major setback to his Australian Open preparations. He suffered a right hip injury in 2017 and has not played on the ATP tour since losing a tough five-setter to American Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. Murray said on Sunday he felt in great shape and that he was confident he would play in Brisbane. But the 30-year-old Scot issued a statement Tuesday announcing his withdrawal from the tournament, and did not say whether he would be able to play the year's first Grand Slam. Murray said he would stay in Brisbane as he "works towards returning to the tennis circuit". "I'm very disappointed to be withdrawing from the Brisbane International," he added. "I came here with every intention of making a strong start to the year, but sadly my team and I don't feel that I'm where I need to be just yet to compete at the highest level." Murray joins top seed and world number one Rafael Nadal, who pulled out of the tournament late last week, on the sidelines.
  18. US President Donald Trump. Image Courtesy: Reuters Video/Screenshot WASHINGTON: Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that Russia had political dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The conversation between Papadopoulos and Alexander Downer ? the diplomat ? in London was a driving factor behind the FBI?s decision to open a counter-intelligence investigation of Moscow?s contacts with the Trump campaign, the Times reported. Two months after the meeting, Australian officials passed the information that came from Papadopoulos to their American counterparts when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, according to the newspaper, which cited four current and former US and foreign officials. Besides the information from the Australians, the probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation was also propelled by intelligence from other friendly governments, including the British and Dutch, the Times said. Papadopoulos ? a Chicago-based international energy lawyer ? pleaded guilty on October 30 to lying to FBI agents about contacts with people who claimed to have ties to top Russian officials. It was the first criminal charge alleging links between the Trump campaign and Russia. The White House has played down the former aide?s campaign role, saying it was ?extremely limited? and that any actions he took would have been on his own. The New York Times, however, reported that Papadopoulos helped set up a meeting between the then-candidate Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and edited the outline of Trump?s first major foreign policy speech in April 2016. The federal investigation, which is now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has hung over Trump?s White House since he took office almost a year ago. Some Trump allies have recently accused Mueller?s team of being biased against the Republican president. Lawyers for Papadopoulos did not immediately respond to requests by Reuters for comment. Mueller?s office declined to comment. Ty Cobb ? Trump?s White House attorney ? declined to comment on the New York Times report. ?Out of respect for the special counsel and his process, we are not commenting on matters such as this,? he said in a statement. Mueller has charged four Trump associates, including Papadopoulos, in his investigation. Russia has denied interfering in the US election and Trump has said there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow.
  19. Australian police stand near a crashed vehicle after they arrested the driver of a vehicle that had ploughed into pedestrians at a crowded intersection near the Flinders Street train station in central Melbourne, Australia, December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Luis Ascui/Files MELBOURNE: The man accused of deliberately ploughing into Christmas shoppers on a busy street in the Australian city of Melbourne was charged on Saturday with 18 counts of attempted murder and one count of conduct endangering life. The Thursday incident was the second serious vehicle attack in Australia?s second biggest city this year. Police said they had charged the man ? a former Afghanistan refugee called Saeed Noori ? after formally interviewing him about the attack that police had earlier described as a ?deliberate act?. Police have said Noori, 32, is known to have mental health problems and to use drugs and they did not believe the attack was terrorism-related. Police suspect Noori was behind the wheel of a white SUV when he deliberately sped up and drove into dozens of pedestrians crossing the road at one of the busiest intersections in Melbourne?s central business district. Noori appeared in the Magistrates Court later on Saturday where he was remanded in custody. He will next appear in court on Wednesday. The court also ordered that Noori be assessed by psychologists. Extremists have used vehicles to attack people several times in Europe and the United States over the past couple of years. In January, six people were killed in Melbourne?s central business district when a man used his vehicle to mow them down. Police also ruled out terrorism for that attack. Following the January incident, authorities installed 140 concrete bollards in the city centre. Victoria State premier Daniel Andrews said 12 people remained in hospital, including three who in critical condition. He said there would be an increased police presence at Melbourne events, including the Boxing Day Test Cricket, carols, and other major sports events.
  20. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: File SYDNEY: Voters began casting ballots in a Sydney by-election on Saturday that could determine the future of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is hoping to regain his parliamentary majority and safeguard his leadership. The election campaign in the blue-ribbon Sydney seat of Bennelong has been bitterly fought between the centre-right government?s candidate, former tennis star John Alexander, and the Labour opposition?s Kristina Keneally, a high-profile former premier of New South Wales, Australia?s most populous state. The outcome of the election could have serious repercussions for Turnbull?s conservative coalition. If Alexander loses, the government will again be forced to govern in minority and rely on the support of independent lawmakers. John Warhurst, professor of political science at the Australian National University in Canberra, said Turnbull?s position would be untenable should the government lose the by-election. ?Everything would be on the table, including Malcolm Turnbull?s leadership,? Warhurst said. Alexander is re-contesting the seat after he stepped down in early November after he was swept up in a citizenship crisis that has so far seen 10 lawmakers leave parliament, either forced out by court rulings or by their own choice. He left parliament because he believed he might hold dual British citizenship, which he has since rescinded. Australia?s constitution bars foreign nationals from sitting in parliament to prevent split allegiances. Turnbull?s coalition has been forced to govern in minority since October, when the citizenship crisis cost him several cabinet members and wiped out his razor-thin majority. Among those forced out was Turnbull?s deputy, Barnaby Joyce, who has since won back his seat. Alexander is also favoured to win back his seat, but the comfortable margin of almost 20 percentage points that he won by in 2016 is expected to shrink significantly after a robust campaign by Keneally and Labour, who have urged voters to use the election to punish the government. The race tightened in recent days amid a diplomatic spat between Australia and China, sparked when Turnbull accused Beijing of improper interference in Canberra. One in five Bennelong voters has Chinese heritage and Turnbull?s Liberal Party fears a backlash in a potentially tight race. Turnbull, who has lagged in opinion polls all year, and his minority government have already been forced to accept a widespread banking inquiry after independent members in parliament flexed their new-found power. Results of the by-election may not be announced until Sunday, due to the high number of postal votes made before the election and which are always counted last.
  21. Lleyton Hewitt/File photo MELBOURNE: Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt is to come out of retirement temporarily and play doubles with compatriot Sam Groth at next month?s Australian Open, local media reported on Friday. Hewitt, a US Open and Wimbledon singles champion, officially retired from top-level tennis after his home grand slam in 2016, where he also played doubles with Groth. He did, however, play doubles during the Davis Cup and Wimbledon last year. ?It?s going to be a bit of fun. That?s what the Australian Open is about,? Hewitt told News Corp Australia on Friday. ?I?m going to really enjoy it. We?ve been hitting a lot of balls, hitting every day, and we?re not just going out there making up the numbers. ?We want to give it a fair crack.? Sam Groth of Australia celebrates a point with Lleyton Hewitt/File photo Groth, who is retiring after the season-opening grand slam and is hoping for a wildcard for the singles draw, will also play mixed doubles with Sam Stosur. ?Its something Lleyton and I have talked about and it?s perfect for me,? Groth said. ?I was there when Rusty retired in 2016 and its great that he?ll be there with me when I bow out. He?s not just someone I know through tennis, he?s a great mate.?
  22. Serena Williams poses with the championship trophy after her victory against Venus Williams in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne/File photo: AFP SYDNEY: New mum Serena Williams has accepted a place at the Australian Open and is "anticipated to return" to the tournament in January, less than five months after giving birth, organisers said Friday. The defending women´s champion was among 98 of the 100 top women, and all of the men´s top 100, to be "confirmed" for the season´s opening Grand Slam, they said. World number ones Simona Halep and 16-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will both be in Melbourne, but all eyes will be on Williams, who won this year´s tournament while pregnant. Tournament director Craig Tiley said this week it was "highly likely" she will make her comeback at the opening Grand Slam of the season, and he repeated those sentiments Friday. "Last year´s tournament broke all of the records and we look forward to welcoming back new mum Serena as she attempts to equal Margaret Court´s 24 Grand Slams," he said in a statement. "We are definitely a family-friendly event and many players including reigning champion Roger Federer travel with their children to Melbourne so we remain optimistic that she will return." Williams gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia in September and married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month. The tournament is also set to see the return of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka, who have all been out with injuries. "We have been in regular contact with Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka, who are all set for the Aussie summer," said Tiley. "They will all have lower rankings meaning there´s a real chance we´ll finally see a breakthrough from one of the rising stars like Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem or David Goffin." The only two players within the top 100 to pull out so far are Russian world number 12 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who recently underwent wrist surgery, and China´s Zheng Saisai, with a right knee injury. The tournament takes place from January 15-28.
  23. The term 'Kwaussie' was first used in 2002 to describe actor Russell Crowe Inspired by a dual citizenship crisis plaguing politics in Australia, the term "Kwaussie" -- a mix of Kiwi and Aussie -- was Monday picked as word of the year. It had been used sparingly in the past to describe a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand, but took on a new lease of life when Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce found out he also had Kiwi citizenship in August. He was the highest profile scalp of a constitutional provision barring dual citizens from serving in federal parliament, with eight lawmakers forced to resign so far. "In a time of covfefe, fake news, and tweetstorms, the Australian National Dictionary Centre has looked for a word of the year that is both lexically interesting and Australian," the centre's director Amanda Laugesen said in a statement. Laugesen said "Kwaussie" was first used in 2002 to describe actor Russell Crowe. "He was described as a Kwaussie -- what you get when you cross a Kiwi who can't decide whether they're a Kiwi or an Aussie," she said. "Subsequent evidence suggests its use is predominantly Australian, found chiefly in social media, and also found with spelling variants including Kwozzie and Kwozzy. "Thanks to the two Kwaussies identified as ineligible to sit in parliament -- Barnaby Joyce and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam -- the term is now becoming better known." Joyce automatically acquired New Zealand citizenship through his father, and was forced to contest a by-election at the weekend, which he won comfortably. The citizenship crisis has engulfed a number of MPs who claim to have unknowingly held dual citizenship, and threatens more with politicians given a deadline of this week to come clean about their status. The Australian National Dictionary Centre is a major centre for lexicographical research, conducting research into Australian English and editing dictionaries.
  24. The specter of Chinese influence has become a constant source of headlines in Australia. Photo: Reuters BEIJING: One of Australia?s largest independent publishers said it decided to delay the publication of a book which alleges widespread Chinese government influence in Australian institutions due to legal concerns. Sydney-based Allen & Unwin said in a statement on Sunday that it decided to delay publication of the book, ?Silent Invasion?, following ?extensive legal advice?. It said the book?s author, Clive Hamilton, was unwilling to delay publication and requested the return of the book?s rights. Hamilton said the publisher?s chief executive, Robert Gorman, sent him an email on Wednesday saying that the reason for the delay was due to concerns over possible legal action from Beijing. The email from Gorman, which was reviewed by Reuters, said the scheduled publishing date of April next year ?was too soon to publish the book and allow us to adequately guard against potential threats to the book and the company from possible action by Beijing?. The email cited fears of a ?defamation action?. Allen & Unwin?s statement on Sunday, from Louise Cornege, its head of publicity, did not specify which court cases it was referring to. Gorman did not respond to requests for comment. Hamilton, an Australian who has previously published eight books with Allen & Unwin, said the ?shadow cast by Beijing is enough to make them so nervous about the consequences of publishing criticism of the Communist Party?. China?s State Council Information Office, which doubles as the ruling Chinese Communist Party?s spokesman?s office, did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent on Sunday. Its foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a faxed request for comment sent on Monday. Concern in Australia that Beijing may be extending its influence in the country has become a topic of political debate and media coverage over the past year. In June, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, published reports saying that there was a concerted campaign by China and its proxies to ?infiltrate? the Australian political process and institutions to promote Chinese interests. China has denied the claims in the reports, which the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said were ?totally unfounded and irresponsible?. Fairfax and the ABC declined to comment. Australia?s Attorney-General George Brandis said in June that ?the threat of political interference by foreign intelligence services is a problem of the highest order and is getting worse?. He said the Australian government had conducted a ?comprehensive review? and planned to strengthen the country?s espionage and foreign interference laws. Hamilton said his book was the ?first comprehensive national study of Beijing?s programme of exerting influence on another nation?. The book documented the influence and penetration of the Chinese Communist Party in Australian political parties, universities and cultural organisations, as well as the Chinese diaspora in Australia, he said in a telephone interview. The delay of the book comes after two international publishing houses ? Springer Nature, which publishes science magazines Nature and Scientific American, and Cambridge University Press ? were criticised recently for restricting access to articles on sensitive subjects in China. In August, Cambridge University Press, which had initially blocked online access to hundreds of scholarly articles in China reversed its position and reposted the material, following an outcry over academic freedom. Cambridge University said at the time that the move to block content had been a ?temporary decision?. Springer said early this month that it had pulled access to a small number of articles in China to comply with regulations, adding that it viewed the move as regrettable but necessary. Beijing has said all publications imported into China must comply with Chinese laws and regulations.
  25. Australia?s government-built $36 billion broadband network, already under attack from underwhelmed customers, has found a new and formidable enemy - cockatoos are chewing through cables across the country. Repairing the damage wrought on the broadband system, including replacing steel-braid wires that the pesky parrots have gnawed, has already cost A$80,000 ($61,500), network builder NBN Co said on Friday. The company estimates the bill could rise sharply as more damage is uncovered and more cables are rolled out in the national telecommunications infrastructure project, which is not due to be completed until around 2021. ?They are constantly sharpening their beaks and as a result will attack and tear apart anything they come across,? said NBN Co project manager Chedryian Bresland in a blog post on the company?s website on Friday. ?Unfortunately, they?ve developed a liking to our cables ... these birds are unstoppable when in a swarm.? Yellow-crested cockatoos are prolific in Australia and well-known for their voracious appetites for everything from fruit crops to wooden window frames. Much of the cable chomping has occurred in grain-growing regions in Australia?s southeast. ?It would have to be an acquired taste, because it?s not their usual style,? Gisela Kaplan, a professor in animal behaviour at the University of New England, told Reuters. ?Cockatoos usually go for wood, or strip the bark off trees, They don?t usually go for cables. But it might be the colour or the position of the cables that?s attracted them,? she said. The broadband network itself has come under fire for poor service and slow speeds, with customer complaints spiking nearly 160 percent this year, according to government figures released last month. Australia?s average internet speed of 11.1 megabits per second ranks 50th in the world, according to the most recent State of the Internet report by Akamai Technologies, an IT company specializing in internet speed technology. NBN Co is installing protective casing it says will protect the wires from birds in the future.