Monthly Archives: June 2019

Hewitt plans 2016 Australian Open swansong

Lleyton Hewitt plans to bypass the French Open to focus on one last crack at Wimbledon and Davis Cup glory before ending his celebrated career at next year’s Australian Open.

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Hewitt on Thursday outlined his dream farewell from tennis after being confirmed as Australia’s Davis Cup captain-in-waiting.

Pat Rafter stood down as skipper to formally assume the role as Tennis Australia’s director of performance and said Hewitt would succeed interim captain Wally Masur “when the time is right and ready”.

Masur, who won the Davis Cup twice as a player in 1983 and 1986 before serving as coach during John Fitzgerald’s tenure, will take the reins for the World Group first-round tie against the Czech Republic in Ostrava from March 6-8.

“Lleyton has an undeniable link with Davis Cup and he will be captain one day,” Masur said.

“It’s not in the model in Australian tennis to have a playing captain as such.

“Obviously (we) spoke to Lleyton a few days ago about it and we’ve come to the arrangement that he’s still a player, he still has a career to flesh out and see where that ends.

“Until that happens, I’ll be captain.”

Turning 34 next month, Hewitt is hoping he won’t be required to step up until after playing a part in a triumphant Australian campaign this year.

“I’ve thought long and hard,” he said.

“I plan to play the Aussie Open next year and most likely finish then.

“Obviously for me the Davis Cup is something we’ve worked extremely hard to put ourselves in a position in the World Group where we have a genuine shot.”

With the emergence of two-time teenage grand slam quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic’s resurgence, Hewitt believes Australia has the talent to win the prestigious teams’ event for a 29th time in 2015.

“I believe with the guys now we have a lot more options, a lot more depth,” he said.

“I feel like I can still put my hand up as a player and help the boys get over the line.

“Whether that’s singles, doubles, whatever is needed. Right at the moment that’s the main focus for us.

“Personally, I’ll be looking towards the grasscourt season and most likely finishing here in Melbourne, which for me would obviously be special to play 20 Australian Opens.”

The former world No.1 plans to play only sparingly in 2015 and says he’ll “most likely” skip Roland Garros to focus on Wimbledon, where he won his second and last grand slam crown in 2002.

Australia’s longest-serving and most prolific Davis Cup singles winner, Hewitt has long been groomed for the captaincy and doubles great and former teammate Todd Woodbridge told AAP the dual grand slam champion would be perfect for the job.

“It’s a great result,” Woodbridge said.

“You’ve got no one more passionate about it, no one with more experience.”

Masur, 51, said it was an honour to take over the captaincy – for however long he’s in the job.

“I have to say, the best memories I have of tennis is playing Davis Cup and being involved,” he said.

“(And) I feel like we’ve got a chance to win the whole thing (this year).”

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Improving Neymar key to Barca’s pursuit of Real

The pressure of expectation and scandal over the true cost of his transfer fee from Santos in 2013 led former president Sandro Rosell to resign and appeared to weigh heavily on Neymar during his first season at the Nou Camp.

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He also found it difficult to adapt to the physical demands of the Spanish league and picked up a series of injuries.

The Brazilian took a share of the blame for Barca finishing last season without a major trophy but helped by the media glare turning towards controversial signing Luis Suarez, Neymar is realising his true potential on European soil.

The return to form of Lionel Messi has also played a part, while Suarez, although yet to show the lethal finishing he possessed at Liverpool, is linking up well.

Messi has more goals this season but Neymar has developed a habit of scoring in crucial matches, including his double as Barca twice came from behind to knock Atletico Madrid out of the King’s Cup on Wednesday.

Barca booked a place in the semi-final with a 3-2 victory, 4-2 on aggregate, in a stormy game that saw Atletico finish with nine players.

Surprisingly, as the Catalan side are renowned for their short passing game through midfield, both goals came from rapid counter-attacks.

The first saw the forward trio combine to tear Atletico’s defence apart with Messi finding Suarez, who in turn set up Neymar to finish clinically.

Neymar’s over-exuberant celebrations and posturing on the pitch seemed to agitate the Atletico players and coach Luis Enrique felt it wise to take him off for the final 15 minutes.

“Neymar was his usual confident self and he gave us a lot in attack as well as defence. His game is about beating players and he did very well,” the Barca coach told reporters.

“The game was getting a bit ugly and so we took Neymar off so that it didn’t get any worse.”

Real Madrid, a point clear of Barca at the top, take on Real Sociedad on Saturday without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, while Atletico, four points off the pace, aim to bounce back from their cup defeat when they travel to Eibar.

(Editing by John O’Brien)

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Clive Palmer falls from rich list

Plunging commodity prices have knocked Clive Palmer off Australia’s top 50 rich list.

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Mr Palmer’s estimated wealth has fallen below $US550 million – the cut off for the latest Forbes Australia list – as the value of his coal and iron ore assets fell.

He’s not the only mining magnate whose fortune has been hit by tumbling commodity prices.

Gina Rinehart’s wealth dropped by $US6 billion, but she remains the country’s richest person with a net worth of $US11.7 billion.

Fortescue Metals founder Andrew Forrest dropped from fifth to tenth on the list, as his net worth shrunk from $US5 billion to $US2.1 billion.

Forbes said Australia’s mining royals have taken a hit from a worldwide decline in the demand for steel, particularly in China.

“The drop in iron ore prices and the Australian dollar’s 6.5 per cent depreciation against the US dollar were among the factors that impacted many of the richest,” it said.

The collective worth of Australia’s 50 richest people was $US89.3 billion in 2014, down from $US101.15 billion a year earlier.

A real estate boom, partly driven by soaring interest in Australian real estate from Asian buyers, boosted the wealth of property tycoons.

Sydney developer Harry Triguboff rose to second on the list as his fortune more than quadrupled to $US5.6 billion.

Known as “Highrise Harry” for developing more than 60,000 apartments throughout his career, Mr Triguboff is the founder of Australia’s biggest apartment builder Meriton.

Westfield shopping centre tycoon Frank Lowy is the third richest Australian, adding $US400 million to his net worth, to $US5 billion.

Casino mogul James Packer is fourth despite falling revenue from Crown’s Macau casino interests wiping $US2 billion from his net worth.

Ivan Glasenberg, who holds the biggest private stake in mining giant Glencore, was also hit by the commodity price downturn, but is ranked fifth with a net worth of $US4.4 billion.

AUSTRALIA’S RICHEST PEOPLE

1 – Gina Rinehart, mining, $US11.7b

2 – Harry Triguboff, property, $US5.6b

3 – Frank Lowy, retail, $US5b

4 – James Packer, casinos, $US4.7b

5 – Ivan Glasenberg, mining, $US4.4b

6 – John Gandel, retail, $US3.6b

7 – Anthony Pratt, manufacturing, $US3.5b

8 – Kerr Neilson, investment, $US3b

9 – Lindsay Fox, transport, $US2.9b

10 – Andrew Forrest, mining, $US2.1b

Source: Forbes Australia

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Unique Old Firm derby as Rangers meet Celtic for 400th time

For the first time since they first met in 1890, the two clubs, who have won 99 Scottish titles between them, are not meeting as equals separated by a few points in the same division.

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Instead, Premiership leaders Celtic go into the first Old Firm derby for almost three years as overwhelming favourites, while Rangers, battling their way back from meltdown in the Championship (second tier), are clear underdogs.

The two biggest clubs in Scotland, who used to meet four or more times a season, are re-engaging for the first time since Rangers were demoted to the bottom tier following their financial collapse in 2012.

Celtic’s Norwegian manager Ronny Deila says the match at neutral Hampden Park will be one of the biggest of his life.

“It’s a first meeting with Rangers for me,” he told BBC Scotland. “I’ve played in big games and finals before but this is going to be a very big one.

“You can feel the atmosphere in the city. Right now it feels like the most important thing in the world.

“There is a lot of emotion. It means a lot to people, the whole city. Football needs derbies like that.”

Rangers manager Kenny McDowall added: “We’ve waited nearly three years for an Old Firm game so never mind the eyes of the world being on us, I expect the people in Pluto will be watching it. Seriously, the most important thing is the game and that it’s a good spectacle.”

Police are taking precautions to stop any crowd disorder between the two fiercely partisan sets of supporters.

“I just hope the football comes out on top and there’s nothing on the outside that tarnishes it,”, added McDowall.

“It’s been a long time coming and we need to make sure football is the winner.”

Rangers, once home to players like Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne, were in the UEFA Cup final seven years ago. But spending more on wages than they could afford in order to rival Celtic and ensure qualification for the lucrative Champions League led to their downfall.

Their demise was sealed with spiralling debts, a tax battle and a series of ownership tussles.

Now reformed and rising up the leagues, things off the pitch remain dire due to high costs, more overspend and smaller crowds than they would get in the Premiership.

Riddled with boardroom infighting, various backers have failed to seal rescue deals, including U.S. financier Robert Sarver who saw two takeover moves rebuffed this year.

(Additional reporting by Neil Maidment, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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