Archive for January, 2019 | Monthly archive page

Nick Kyrgios prepares for Australian Open by launching vicious serve into his friend’s backside

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

A relaxed Nick Kyrgios has warmed up for his first-round clash by including a young fan in his practice as well as belting a serve into one of his friends.

Just four hours out from the start of his grand slam campaign, Kyrgios was all smiles in the sweltering Melbourne heat as he launched a vicious serve into the backside of one of his friends in front of hundreds of onlookers. A relaxed @NickKyrgios has warmed up for his Open campaign launching a serve into his mate! Ouch. pic.twitter老域名/a7eNxEsOoE— Michael Chammas (@MichaelChammas) January 18, 2016

Injured Australian tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis also popped in to watch Kyrgios’ 30-minute hit-out, and is sitting out this year’s Australian Open after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Weighed down by the pressure and expectation in 2015, Kyrgios has returned to Melbourne Park a lot more relaxed and comfortable in his own skin 12 months later.

Kokkinakis, who was invited to watch practice by Kyrgios, will also be in the stands at Hisense Arena for the first-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta on Monday night and also noticed a change in the 20-year-old’s demeanour.

“He said he was hitting out here and I told him I might come have a look,” Kokkinakis said.

“Hopefully he can play well because he’s feeling pretty good so I think he can make a run. I think he’s relaxed. He looks relaxed. If he can find his rhythm he could make a run.”

Kokkinakis will miss Australia’s opening Davis Cup tie but is hopeful of returning in April.

“It’s pretty frustrating being here and not being able to play but I have some off-court stuff I’m doing this week and I’ll watch the boys and try and get them over the line,” he said.

“I think it will really set in when they start playing and I’m watching. It’s been boring for me because I’m doing a lot of rehab, a lot of bike and the same sort of stuff. Hopefully I’ll be back in April and play the remaining three grand slams.”

Clijsters in town

Kim Clijsters has joined the Channel Seven tennis commentary team for the summer but don’t expect her to provide an insight into ex-fiancee Lleyton Hewitt’s final Australian Open campaign.

Clijsters, or Aussie Kim as she is commonly referred to, will provide analysis of matches during this month’s Open. But she will be focusing on the women’s side of the draw and not be covering Hewitt in his 20th and final home grand slam.

However the pair will be colleagues at some point during the tournament, with Hewitt to take up commentary duty with Channel Seven after he is bundled out.

Hewitt will face fellow Australian James Duckworth on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night.

Over and outta here

Serena Williams cruised through her opening-round match against Italian Camila Giorgi but was in no mood for small talk in her post-match press conference.

While Williams answered all the questions, including a self-grading of “A for effort” in her straight-sets win, the world No.1 called a premature end to the press conference – albeit almost 10 minutes in. “I’m calling it. I’m out,” she said. And sure enough she was.

Fatherly approach

​Novak Djokovic enjoyed an incredible 2015, winning three grand slams in the calendar year that followed the birth of their first child in October, 2014.

But the arrival of his son Stefan did little to ease his dominance in men’s tennis, hinting he may have found a winning formula.

“​Darling I guess we have to make more babies,” Djokovic joked on court following his first-round victory against Hyeon Chung.​ “I’m probably going to [be] criticised for what I said now.”

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Racing Australia reluctant to tinker with weigh-in rule despite punters’ protests

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Hot water: Jockey Jye McNeil was fined after weighing in light on a horse at Sandown. Photo: Pat ScalaRacing Australia has stressed it has no plans to revisit the controversial rule where punters are stripped of their wagers on a horse when a jockey weighs in light, even after the Jye McNeil drama earlier this month.

Despite howls of protest in the days after the race in question – where McNeil was fined $2000 and his mount Tigidig Tigidig disqualified after being first past the post in a Sandown race – Racing Australia boss Peter McGauran confirmed tinkering with the law is not on the board’s immediate agenda.

Punters who backed Tigidig Tigidig had no chance of recouping their money and were left fuming when stewards were confronted with no other option but to disqualify the horse.

But Racing Australia remains reluctant to amend the rule given the rarity of the scenario and precedent it would set for other horses similarly affected.

Among their concerns include if a jockey weighs in light on a beaten horse which is subsequently declared as a non-runner, other punters are likely to be out of pocket.

Those who had backed a horse which, on merit, finished ahead of a mount which didn’t carry its allotted weight would be forced to cop deductions from their dividend.

And stewards are also privately concerned jockeys who are beaten in a race could easily dispel lead on returning to scale in order to deliberately weigh in light and abuse any rule which deems the horse a non-runner, therefore refunding losing bets.

One option floated would be to deem only the first horse past the post as a non-runner if its jockey weighs in light, therefore protecting “winning” bets.

But McGauran said the Racing Australia board were worried about the precedent it would set for other runners and had not flagged the rule for discussion at its next meeting.

“For winners to be declared non-runners … how long will it be before jockeys who weigh in light on placegetters or other runners mean calls start for them to also be declared non-runners? That’s one of several scenarios that has been presented to us where other punters lose out because of deductions,” McGauran said.

“If [the states] were to pursue a rule change we would have to consider it, but there is no immediate body of support.”

Racing Victoria said on Monday it is likely to wait until chief steward Terry Bailey returns from annual leave next month before deciding on whether to table another proposal in regards to the rule.

But acting chief steward Robert Cram indicated in the wake of the McNeil incident it would be under strong consideration.

McGauran said the introduction of electronic scales in the last two years had limited the number of discrepancies with riders not returning at their correct weight after a race.

“The electronic scales seem to have eliminated the occurrence [of further weighing in light scenarios] and there doesn’t seem an appetite to change [the rule],” McGauran said. “When the board last considered [the rule] it was decided to give the electronic scales the chance to work.

“Now if the jockey weighs in light or heavy the onus is on the jockey to provide the reasons. The board expects the rider to take more responsibility for his or her weight upon returning to scale.”

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National strikes shut down docks as work tensions flare

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Consecutive strikes have hit Melbourne’s busy container port. Photo: The Age Engineers walked off the job at several major ports. Photo: Supplied

The Port of Melbourne is in the grip of three days of strikes, as dock workers shut down Australia’s largest stevedoring business for the first time since the 1998 waterfront dispute.

Strikes on Monday at Patrick Stevedores terminals in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle follow separate strikes on Sunday by tugboat engineers.

The tugboat strikes, resuming in Melbourne on Tuesday, have been blocking the access of carriers at Australian ports and have caused alarm at potentially severe flow-on effects.

Concerns are rising that the latest strikes at Patrick Stevedores will cause further disruption to the national supply chain.

Patrick Stevedores’ four port terminals handle almost 45 per cent of all container cargo in Australia.

“If this industrial action continues, it is likely to have consequences well beyond our terminal gates,” a company spokesman said.

“The fortunes of countless businesses, both big and small, and the families and communities they support Australia-wide will be adversely affected without timely access to containerised goods.”

Patrick Stevedores said national strike action was the first to face the company since the Howard-era waterfront crisis, when 1400 workers lost their jobs in a restructure and were replaced with non-union labour.

“It’s no coincidence that this is the first national strike action since 1998,” the company spokesman said.

“Unfortunately, a very small contingent of the Maritime Union of Australia’s most militant officials appear intent on winding back the clock to a time when their power to intimidate and interfere in proper commercial agreements … was as indisputable as it was unacceptable.”

Central to the dispute is the issue of job security for existing employees, many of whom have unpredictable work hours, according to the union.

“The issue for us has always been job security,” MUA deputy national secretary Will Tracey said.

“We are not seeking to decrease flexibility and increase costs … this is not about wages, it is about getting the company to commit to the jobs that are here now, not use them as a pawn in a game to maximise share and asset price.”

Patrick executive Alexandra Badenoch​ has strongly criticised the union’s local claims at Sydney’s Port Botany, for all workers to be made full-time permanent, for 32-hour weeks to be paid at a 35-hour week rate and for higher penalty rates.

“Overall we have got a great workforce of hard-working employees, but negotiations have definitely been derailed by extreme claims at Port Botany,” she said.

“We are passionate about negotiating a constructive outcome.”

Ms Badenoch said the union’s claims at Port Botany would hike labour costs by 53 per cent, but the union said the increase would be just over 10 per cent.

Bryce Prosser​, of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, warned the strikes were having severe flow-on effects on retail, manufacturing, agriculture and food businesses that rely on the Port of Melbourne.

“Our understanding is that it’s having a major impact,” Mr Prosser said.

“It’s throwing people’s 2016 shipment plans out of whack and it means their strategies for shipments coming from places like China and internationally have to be put on hold.”

In the tugboat dispute, which is over an attempt by Svitzer Australia to move all tugboat crew onto a single agreement, a series of strikes have held up shipments in Geelong, Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne, where Svitzer is sole operator.

Strikes have ranged from 24 to 48 hours, but members of the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers have endorsed for up to seven days.

All major ports will face tugboat strikes on Tuesday.

The Port of Melbourne Corporation said tugboat strikes had not stopped all port activity because some vessels did not need tugs, and adequate forewarning allowed shipments to be rescheduled.

“We are monitoring the situation closely, and urge all parties to reach a resolution,” a spokesman said.

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I am staying analog in this age of digital

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

I received an interesting piece of correspondence this week. It was addressed to “The Householder”and had clearly been typed using a typewriter. “Dear Friend,”the letter began, “we live locally, and on calling were unable to find you home.”It then went on to say that the “enclosed tract”contained “very important information”.

Yes, it was religious propaganda. Nevertheless, how incredible that someone (Mrs G Baxter, to be precise) had written to me using the slowest method possible. I was also impressed with the ending, which said, “You may contact us by entering our website in the address field of the Internet browser of your computer.”

What a detailed explanation. And with a capital “I”for internet! I refolded the letter and laughed at how behind the times Mrs Baxter was.Then I stopped laughing because it suddenly occurred to me that although I do not own a typewriter I am not exactly ahead of the times. In fact, the truth is, I’m not even up with the times. I still rent DVDs. I wash up so that I don’t have to use the dishwasher.

I’ve just been reading an article (in my actual paper newspaper) about how 2016 is the year of the connected house, extreme automation and“wearables”.Apparently we will all be asking our washing machines questions, throwing away our credit cards and turning our heaters on before we arrive home. It’s going to be amazing.

Years ago a friend told me about her father’s first word-processing attempt. He started typing, then suddenly stoppedand murmured, “I can see the dollar sign, but I can’t get the dollar sign.”He thought the “shift”key was only for producing capital letters.Another friend once described the day his grandmother had a go on his computer. “It’s not working,” she exclaimed, as she clicked the mouse button repeatedly. “Gran,” my friend said, patiently, “You don’t have to aim the mouse at the screen like a gun. It sits on the table.”

I know what you’re thinking – stupid old people! I bet they still go into banks! However, you shouldn’t make rash assumptions. My parents (both in their early 60s) are way more plugged in and switched on than I am.

My technophobia is not caused by age, but rather lack of interest.I don’t care enough to learn anything new.I do know how to get a “$”, and I understand that mice function best on tables, but my techno knowledge is ridiculously deficient. My desktop computer allows me to look at “The Internet”and that’s it.I’m not on Facebook, I don’t have a Twitter account, and I don’t follow anyone on Instagram.

My car does not have GPS or a screen to show me the toddler I’m about to run over. I recently drove one of my daughter’s friends home from school. “How do you open the window?”she asked. “I’m afraid you have to wind it down by hand,”I replied.

In her letter, Mrs G Baxter did point out that we live in “stress filled times”and must search for real happiness.Are my Luddite ways helping to avoid the constant pressures of this hectic modern existence? Or are they actually making day-to-day living difficult and inefficient?I suppose I do enjoy receiving emails, and I quite like the instantaneousness of text messages. Fridges are much more convenient than Eskies. And I’m quite keen on the latest weather updates that the Bureau of Meteorology website provides.

But should I buy a chair that knows when I’m sitting in it? Should I be wearing a “wearable”? Should I get with the times? I don’t know.Maybe I’ll ask my washing machine.

Jean Flynn is a freelance writer. You cannot follow her on anything.

Huge great white shark sighted off South Australian beach

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

A great white shark, thought to be between six and seven metres long, was seen off Marino Rocks in South Australia. Photo: Westpac Lifesaver Rescue HelicopterSA: A great white shark, thought to be up to sevenmetres long, has been sighted off a South Australian beach, forcingthe cancellationof a nearby junior surf lifesaving carnival and the evacuation of swimmers.

The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter was patrolling over Marino Rocks, in Adelaide’s south, on Sunday afternoon when crew members spotted the shark about 200 metres off shore.

A Surf Life Saving South Australia spokeswoman said the helicopter’screw members estimated the shark to have been six to seven metres long.

“They didn’t have a tape measure, of course, but that is how long they estimated it to be,” the spokeswoman said, adding that crew members regularly saw sharks from the air, and that this was a particularly large one.

The large shark was seen about 200 metres off Marino Rocks in South Australia. Photo: Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter

She was unable to comment on an anonymous post on theShark Alerts South Australia Facebook page, said to have been written by one of the crew members.

The post read:”It’s the biggest I’ve ever seen as a crew member in the Westpac chopper. We put it down as 7m the photo really doesn’t do it justice.”

The spokeswoman saidthe junior surf lifesaving carnival was being held at neighbouring Seacliff Beachat the time.

“We had our jet boats offering water coverage at the carnival, and they were called intoaction, as were theinflatable rescue boats,” the spokeswoman said.

“By the time they got there,the shark hadmoved into deeper waters. Therewasn’t another sighting of the shark … and it was moving fairlyquicklyinto deeper water.”

The surf life saving carnival was called off early, and swimmers were evacuated from the water.