Monthly Archives: June 2019

Stosur left shell-shocked at US Open

Samantha Stosur faces a desperate fight to retain an Australian Open seeding after suffering a shattering second-round defeat at the US Open in New York.

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The 2011 Open champion was left shell-shocked after squandering a one-set lead, then a 4-1 advantage in the rollercoaster third-set tiebreaker and, ultimately, two match points in a gut-wrenching 3-6 6-3 7-6 (10-8) loss to unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi on Thursday.

“I’m just really disappointed right now,” she said.

“It’s one of those matches where you walk off and think `what just happened?'”

The loss came four years after Kanepi, the 2012 Brisbane International winner, ambushed Stosur in the first round at Wimbledon and consigned the one-time world No.4 to another disappointing early exit from the New York major.

The Queenslander bombed out in the opening round last year at Flushing Meadows, falling to 17-year-old world No.296 Victoria Duval.

But with no time to mope, Stosur accepted she must quickly pick up the pieces and try to defend a truckload of rankings points accrued from last year’s late-season Asian swing.

Now ranked 21st, Stosur finished 2014 with three straight finals appearances, including a title win in Osaka, and needs to maintain a place in the top 32 to secure a seeding at her slam in January.

“So I’ve just got to really knuckle down and try to learn from what happened today,” Stosur said.

Despite her premature departure from the final slam of the season, the two-time grand slam finalist said success over Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard last week and a strong showing against Serena Williams earlier this month had her feeling upbeat.

“I do feel like I’ve started to play a lot better, so that’s a good thing,” Stosur said.

“I know what I did at the end of last year, but I certainly can’t go into these events at the end of the year thinking `geez, I’ve got to defend a final here or a I won this tournament’.

“That’s never the way I’ve tried to go about events.

“There’s still a couple of big points in China where I went out early (last year), so there’s still lots of upsides to the next four weeks playing in Asia.”

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Quiet man Norman thriving at Parramatta

Parramatta five-eighth Corey Norman is revelling in life out of the Brisbane spotlight and happy to take a back seat to Jarryd Hayne and Chris Sandow as the Eels plot their path towards the NRL finals.

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Norman burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old with the Broncos in 2010 with a scintillating debut in the season opener against North Queensland at fullback.

Almost instantly he was talked up as the long-term successor to Darren Lockyer in the No.6 jumper.

But he never quite recaptured those heights again as the Broncos tried to work out what was his best position.

Norman played a full year at five-eighth in 2012, helping the team to the finals, but a season later was moved to fullback by coach Anthony Griffin.

Frustrated at not being able to play in his favoured position, his form dipped and he was axed from the team following a loss to Cronulla just as it was announced he was joining Parramatta in 2014.

But his form for the Eels this year has been excellent and the manner in which he has dovetailed with Sandow in the halves won praise from Hayne, who recently credited Norman with helping him reach the heights of his epic 2009 campaign.

But the 23-year-old has played down his role in the Eels’ revival and says he is happy for Hayne and Sandow to take all the plaudits and remain in the background – a luxury he wasn’t afforded at the Broncos.

“I just had to come in here and do my role in the team and that is to steer the boys around,” Norman said.

“We’ve got Chrissy and Haynesy, who’ve been outstanding, and our back-line is sharp and they’re getting the job done for us, which is good.”

Norman admits it was a huge risk moving to Sydney to join a club that had struggled at the wrong end of the table for five years, but said it’s worked out better than he could have hoped.

“I definitely thought they would go better than the last couple of years, but probably not finals,” Norman said.

“It was a big risk coming here, but I knew they’d recruited well with Nathan Peats and Will Hopoate.

“A lot of credit has to go to Brad Arthur as well. He has turned this club around.”

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Milford, Cornish ready for Tigers pack

Canberra captain Jarrod Croker admits his side’s small rookie halves pairing of Mitch Cornish and Anthony Milford are set for some extra special attention from the Wests Tigers’ pack on Saturday.

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With the wooden spoon firmly in the grasp of Cronulla, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will hand Cornish his first NRL start at Canberra’s GIO Stadium alongside Brisbane-bound five-eighth Milford to prepare for 2015.

But with the duo losing 20kg to usual halves Terry Campese and Josh McCrone, Croker says the Raiders’ forward pack will have to lift to ensure representative forward Aaron Woods and his Tigers teammates don’t get a roll on at the youngsters’ expense.

“They’re a lot smaller than guys like Campo and Josh, so for them it’s just about getting their body in front and doing their best,” said Croker, who will captain the Raiders for the first time.

“Most halves get (targeted). It doesn’t matter who you are.

“They’ll get help from inside and out, so I’m sure they’ll do fine.”

However, what Cornish and Milford lack in size they’ll make up for in attack, Croker says.

“They’re both exciting players and obviously they had a fair bit of time together in their 20s and junior ranks,” Croker said.

“Mitchy will organise and lead the team around, and Milford’s got that spark and X factor.”

Milford starred in the Raiders’ 22-12 win over Cronulla last week with two second-half tries and two assists.

His hot form hasn’t gone unnoticed by Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter, who admitted that the 20-year-old young gun caused his side headaches during their 19-18 win over the Raiders in round 16.

“Milford is probably the big concern for us. He’s lively and hard to get a hold of and gets underneath you,” Potter said.

Meanwhile, the Tigers will be without young gun halfback Luke Brooks, forcing Potter to shift Blake Austin into the halves from centre, while Pat Richards returns from injury to the wing.

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Abbott slams Russia on Ukraine ‘invasion’

Tony Abbott has branded Russia’s latest actions in Ukraine an invasion and says it’s “completely, absolutely and utterly unacceptable”.

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But the prime minister says Australia cannot make a unilateral decision to exclude Russian President Vladimir Putin from the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane in November.

NATO says at least 1000 Russian troops have crossed the Ukraine border and are now helping pro-Kremlin separatists who have been fighting against Kiev’s rule since April.

“If, as seems to have been the case, Russian armed forces have simply moved across the border, that is an invasion,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

“And it is utterly reprehensible.

“It is an absolutely clear-cut case of a larger country bullying a smaller country and this should have no place in our world.”

Russia’s latest actions are likely to intensify calls that Mr Putin be excluded from the G20 talks.

But Mr Abbott says he is still weighing his options.

“It’s not a decision which Australia really has a right to make unilaterally,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop should now be talking to other G20 nations about the possibility of excluding Mr Putin.

“I think most Australians have grave reservations about welcoming Mr Putin to Australia,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

The government should also consider ratcheting up its sanctions against Russia, Mr Shorten said.

He echoed Mr Abbott’s comments that Russia’s latest actions were “reprehensible” and amounted to an invasion.

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Storm ready for Roosters hurdle

Steering the Melbourne Storm to all but one NRL finals series since 2005, coach Craig Bellamy knows a thing or two about tapering his team.

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With two rounds remaining, including Saturday night’s clash with defending champion Sydney Roosters in Sydney, Bellamy feels things are falling into place.

“When you’re really prepared everything at this time of year comes easy in terms of your preparation and there’s no distraction,” said Bellamy, with the club only missing the 2010 finals when stripped of points for salary cap cheating.

“Your planning and training goes smoothly and when you’ve got good preparation you’ve usually got a good performance and we’re in that mode at the moment.”

Currently fifth, the Storm have the chance to draw level on 32 points alongside the third-placed Roosters and Penrith, who take on second-placed Manly on Sunday.

In their last meeting in Melbourne in round 13 the Roosters rolled the Storm 32-12, although the home side was missing superstars Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.

“Last time we were outmuscled by them but we’ve got a bigger, more mature team this time so hopefully we can handle them a bit better,” Bellamy said.

“Their outside backs are also very strong and can get their sets off to a good start so that’s one area we need to defend well.”

While plenty was riding on their final two games Bellamy said that crowded competition ladder meant if ever a team outside the top four was to win, this was the season.

“This competition is so close if it’s going to be a year when teams could do it from the bottom of the top eight, this year could be the year.”

If Melbourne do secure a top four finals berth they feel they’ve earned it, with the Roosters match their fifth away game in the last six weeks.

It’s also the team’s second five-day turnaround in that period after playing against the Panthers in Sydney on Monday night.

Bellamy felt the scheduling was almost laughable.

“I don’t know if ridiculous is the right word,” Bellamy said.

“We always talk about the care and welfare of our players but to put us through that, it’s wrong.

“To have a five-day turnaround between away games is real tough but to have two of those in a month, or two in five games, is ultra tough.

“Hopefully it will be something that will be looked at in the pre-season and mightn’t happen again.”

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