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David Fifita returns home after Bali jail stint

David Fifita returns home after Bali jail stint

12/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29607026

David Fifita says he’s “learnt a big lesson” after arriving safely in Brisbane after three days in a Bali jail.

The Brisbane NRL star touched down in Brisbane early on Tuesday to be greeted by mother Gwen and club CEO Paul White before giving a short statement to the media.

With Fifita facing more than two years in jail for assault, White confirmed the 19-year-old had to pay compensation out of his own pocket to reach a “peace settlement” with the complainant – a security guard he allegedly punched early on Saturday morning.

Fifita was arrested after the alleged incident, forcing the club’s welfare officer Adam Walsh to fly to Bali to work with Fifita’s lawyers, Kuta police and the security guard to have the complaint dropped.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has worked to help me get home,” Fifita said.

“I’d like to thank Walshy, Payne (Haas, who he had travelled with) and my lawyers in Bali and everyone at the Brisbane Broncos.

“There has been a lot going on behind the scenes and I am really grateful for that.

“It’s a great feeling to be home to see my family.

“I’ve learnt a big lesson from what I’ve been through these last few days.”

Confirming the club did not pay compensation to facilitate Fifita’s release, White said the teenager’s version of events would come out once the integrity unit interviewed him.

“Any compensation that was paid was agreed upon David’s legal representative over there and David himself,” White said.

“That is something between David and the alleged victim.

“These peace agreements are part of these types of incidents, the settlement of these type of incidents, and they do involve an agreement between two parties.”

“I look forward to the integrity unit being able to speak to Dave and take his version of events and make an independent judgement.”

Fifita is entering the final year of his Brisbane contract and, attracting interest from a number of clubs, is expected to fetch offers in the region of $1 million a season.

Regardless, White conceded Fifita had made a poor decision putting himself in the party destination’s nightclub precinct in the early hours.

“Nothing good happens after midnight,” White said.

“You’re always disappointed; we work really hard with our players.

“David is a good young man and he’s going to learn a very big lesson from what he’s gone through over the last three days.”

White said the club would allow the integrity unit to conduct its investigation and, while not ruling out a separate club sanction, indicated Fifita’s “harrowing” ordeal may be punishment enough.

“I don’t know too many 19-year-old men … of his background, who have had an experience like that,” he said.

“I know, having a policing background, that being in a cell is not a great experience, and being in one in a foreign country was pretty confronting.

“He’ll learn a big lesson.”


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Sporting Spud: Matildas’ big weekend on and off-field

Sporting Spud: Matildas’ big weekend on and off-field

11/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29606020

The ABC took a lot of stick on Monday for its decision to abandon radio coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but on Saturday the National broadcaster showed just how it can be a force for good in Australian sport.

As part of the new free -to-air deal for Australian soccer – read: football, if you are of that sensibility – the ABC offered up its first Matildas game on home soil.

With Sam Kerr scoring after only three minutes it was a brilliant start to the match. and the record crowd of 20,029 showed that the women’s game has come such a long way on the backs of the Matildas’ success.

Up and over: Sam Kerr is challenged during the match against Chile. Photo: AAP

The ABC’s panel discussions and post-match interviews were enlightening and offer a lot of upside for the game as a whole.

However, Matildas coach Ante Milicic warned that Australian women’s soccer risks slipping behind other nations without improvement in the W-League.

Milicic said on Monday it is imperative Australia’s domestic competition keeps pace with the big-money European leagues.

“I have been in Europe for the last couple of years and … I have seen what they have invested,” Milicic said. “And now, that is the challenge for us.

“With the (Australian pay) agreement that has been put in place, we know now that it’s a serious sport.

“But now it’s for us to build on that W-League. We need more games, we need more coaches available, we need better facilities.”

Code-hopper eyes Olympic gold

The 2-1 result against Chile was not the domination the Matildas had hoped for, but the debut of former Adelaide AFLW player Jenna McCormick gave Australia something extra to celebrate in the form of a potential new star at centre-back.

“It’s a very, very special day for me and I’m just glad the choices I’ve made throughout my life have led me to this moment,” McCormick told AAP.

This is the path I’m supposed to be on. And I’m just looking forward to hopefully being involved from now and however long into the future.’’

Given the growth in AFLW, the ability of the world game to offer women the chance to represent Australia remains a huge lure, with 26-year-old McCormick saying her next goal is the Olympic Games.

“Next one is to be at Tokyo. I want to be there so badly,” she said.

“It would obviously be amazing to go to an Olympics and represent your country.”

Postecoglou … he’s big in Japan

One soccer name already in Japan is former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou, who on Monday re-signed with his side Yokohama F. Marinos for the 2020 season as the club closes in on a J-League title.

Postecoglou has guided Yokohama to within reach of the top flight title and they sit second on the ladder with just three rounds left in the season.

Ange Postecoglou (C) has been a big hit in Japan at Yokohama. Photo: Getty 

The 54-year-old has been a hit in Yokohama for driving the five-time champions to within reach of a first success since 2004 with minimal funding as a foreign coach, as well as establishing an exciting brand of attacking football.

It’s an impressive improvement for the club, which finished 12th last season and narrowly avoided a relegation play-off in Postecoglou’s first campaign and he could attract attention from European clubs for his feat.

Postecoglou dramatically walked away as coach of the Socceroos just seven months before the 2018 World Cup in Brazil after guiding the team to the 2015 Asian Cup final.

I have a meme …

Maybe it’s time we reined in remembrance moments at sporting events.

Sport thought …

No shots landed that were really different. Just something … happened. There are simply no words to describe how I am feeling right now.’’

– A shattered Michael Zerafa coming to grips with having landed the blow that saw his friend and sparring partner Dwight Ritchie collapse and die on the weekend.

Dwight Ritchie, nicknamed “Cowboy”, died doing what he loved, promoter Jake Ellis said.



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No gold, but ABC puts lead weight around the government’s neck

No gold, but ABC puts lead weight around the government’s neck

11/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29606021

Australians won’t be hearing cries of ‘gold, gold, gold’ on their ABC come the Tokyo Olympics … although it’s unlikely the Prime Minister cares too much – it’s not like sports fans conjure up images of a politician in a green and gold tracksuit on the radio.

Still, in abandoning its radio broadcast of the Olympics for the first time in 1952, the ABC has hung a medal of sorts around Scott Morrison’s neck – a lead weight that highlights the reality of the Coalition’s long-standing budget cuts.

Drinks from the PM, but no Olympics coverage: Green and gold-clad Scott Morrison getting the sport vote at a recent cricket match in Canberra. Photo: AAP

In fact, while the ABC was roundly criticised on Monday for its decision not to bid for the Tokyo 2020 non-commercial broadcast rights, it showcased on a podium that it no longer has the ability to do the things Australians have always expected the National broadcaster to do.

The ABC’s radio coverage of the Olympics has long offered a reach and depth that no commercial television broadcast could match.

Only on the ABC were fans brought expert coverage of sports that are not sexy enough for the prime time.

That the ABC has quit coverage of an Olympics to be held in our time zone – lending itself to a broad audience tuning in while Australians are at work and play – is a stunning rebuke to the past attempts to soldier on with less.

Cutting sport from radio hits the government where it hurts and highlights the hypocrisy of a PM cloaking himself in sporting triumph from the gifted front row seats.

The government has long trumpeted it’s 2030 National sports plan that aims for greater participation rates and calls for “national pride, inspiration and motivation through international sporting success”.

With Tokyo 2020 featuring ‘fringe’ events like BMX and skateboarding, while also giving ridiculous medal opportunities for top of the tree professionals in tennis and golf, there is a case to be made that the Olympics itself needs a revamp to warrant extended coverage from the ABC.

In the past, ABC moments – like Norman May’s call of the swimming in Moscow 1980 – have etched themselves into the national psyche, but it is true that Australians now get their sports news from a variety of other sources.

Former ABC broadcaster Tim Lane, who covered five Olympics from 1984 to 2000, said if the “beautiful and descriptive” letters he received was any guide his calls of Olympic games had a unifying effect on the nation.

“I recall one after the Seoul games from a school headmaster I hadn’t seen for 25 years and the Greek immigrant to Melbourne who described his late-night wave of patriotism as he listened to the 100 metre Hurdles victory of Paraskevi Patoulidou in Barcelona,” Lane said.

“There was the person who was somewhere above central Australia on a Qantas flight when the captain pumped our coverage of Cathy Freeman’s win through the audio system, causing the plane to erupt with joy.

For the radio audience, the sound coming out of the speaker was the Olympics, and this seemed to create an unusually strong connection between broadcaster and listener.”

And there lies the rub for a PM who claims to want to unify the nation through sport.

Without the support, knowledge and exposure gained through the Olympics once every four years, some sports could could find their funding the next to be cut.

The Australian Olympic Committee knows this and on Monday duly blasted the ABC.

It’s rage on behalf of “eight million Australians who participate in Olympic sports” would carry more weight if it was not chasing its own sponsorship dollars by including top-line professionals from golf and tennis in the Olympics.

Consider this: Will the big-dollar Channel Seven television coverage be more likely to offer up Tiger Woods trying to win an Olympic gold medal or spend the time making new Australian heroes explaining the intricacies of grassroots skateboarding and the story of trailblazing riders like Renton Miller and Shane O’Neill?

tiger woods golf
Olympian? Tiger Woods hopes to make the US Olympic team. Photo: Palm Beach County Sheriff

The ABC charter demands the latter, but there’s no more cash available to pay for it.

The Federal Government last year announced it would freeze the ABC’s annual funding at the same level for three years — a move that will cost the broadcaster $83.7 million.

That cut is being phased in over three years, starting with almost $15 million in 2019-20, about $28 million in 2020-21 and over $41 million in 2021-22.

The government has put more money back into regional ABC funding  and the organisation itself says by not broadcasting the Olympics it can work to save more local coverage, but the ABC’s job is huge.

In the bush, local ABC sport coverage is long dead, while holding politicians to account is not always best achieved by putting the onus back on young journalists working solo shifts in regional areas.

In another life I was one of those guys and the bulletins keep churning, the phone is always ringing and the ability to expose spin, cant and corruption is a daily battle that is often lost to demands of time.

All this while grassroots sport needs all the help it can get, with clubs falling over, elite individuals sucking the resources and indigenous participation rates still a challenge.

The health outcomes of Indigenous children don’t measure up to those of non-Indigenous children. Sport is part of the answer. Photo: AAP

For this reason it’s hard to argue too strongly against the ABC’s Olympics decision. It was not getting marked up by the judges in Canberra for the degree of difficulty in executing the job, so the Ultimo boffins took the straight dive.

When regional reporters can’t even get the PM to answer questions on climate change as a bushfire rages there’s a fair case that more well-trained ABC reporters on the ground and less commentators eating sushi at a sporting event is actually a good thing.

The ABC has made its call and the judges will now be the sporting public, with the government now required to execute something a little trickier – explaining why the National broadcaster can no longer compete.

There’s also a gold medal awaiting the first ABC journalist to get the PM to acknowledge that the nation’s sportspeople and playing fields are indeed being burnt to a crisp by climate change.

The post No gold, but ABC puts lead weight around the government’s neck appeared first on The New Daily.
Shock as cost-cutting ABC abandons Olympic radio coverage

Shock as cost-cutting ABC abandons Olympic radio coverage

11/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29605433

The ABC’s announcement that for the first time since 1952 it will will not have a live radio broadcast of the Olympic Games has been met with shock and outrage in the sporting community.

The national broadcaster will not be bidding for the non-commercial radio rights for Tokyo 2020, citing “budget pressures and the changing broadcast environment”.

“This is an incredibly tough decision, especially given our 67-year run as the official non-commercial Olympic Games radio broadcaster,” the ABC said in a statement.

“Due to competing budget priorities coupled with the fact that Australians can access Olympic Games coverage in many other ways, we have chosen not to pursue rights in 2020.”

The decision was dubbed a “national shame” by long-time sports broadcaster Quentin Hull, who tweeted: “The ABC will lose part of its DNA by not being at the Tokyo Olympics”.

“The coverage has always shed a light on amazing stories of not only Australians, but human achievement the world over,” Hull said.

ABC Grandstand commentator Alister Nicholson also expressed his disappointment.

“It’s an absolutely flat feeling walking in to work this morning … it makes me feel empty in the stomach,” Nicholson said.

“That idea that I would be part of the sports department that didn’t any longer cover the Olympic Games is really deflating,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“I can’t say too much about it. Obviously this is a decision that has been made a lot higher up the chain than myself.

“I know that it is a difficult environment budgetary-wise for the ABC at the moment, and it’s not an inexpensive thing to mount a broadcast of the Olympic Games.”

Nicholson described the ABC team that was sent to the 2016 Rio Games as a “trimmed back … skeleton team” that he was lucky enough to be a part of.

“I’m not so much disappointed for myself, I’m disappointed for the athletes and for the public,” he said.

“You think about all the great stories there are to tell — and yes, we will continue to cover in some capacity — we won’t have broadcast rights in the sense that we will be able to call those great moments.”

The ABC still intends to provide daily updates on ABC News and ABC Grandstand.

-with AAP

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Liverpool open up nine-point EPL advantage

Liverpool open up nine-point EPL advantage

11/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29604972

Liverpool have left no doubt of their Premier League title intentions with a convincing 3-1 win over Manchester City at Anfield.

Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were on target as the Reds moved eight points clear of Leicester City and Chelsea and left champions City nine points adrift in fourth.

The victory for Juergen Klopp side didn’t come without controversy as VAR played a part in the Reds’ sixth-minute opener.

City couldn’t recover from the early blow and may have seen their hopes of a third straight title slip away as unbeaten Liverpool made it 11 wins from 12 games this season.

“Obviously we’re on a good run of form, still unbeaten,” defender Trent Alexander-Arnold told Sky Sports.

“It’s about keeping up the momentum, it’s not about other teams – we have to focus on us.”

The game’s major talking point came when Alexander-Arnold handled the ball inside the box.

However, referee Michael Oliver ruled to play on and Liverpool went straight down the field and took the lead when Fabinho drilled home a rocket from 25 metres.

Oliver was then surrounded by players from both teams during the VAR review and City were left infuriated when the goal was given.

And things got worse for them seven minutes later when Salah headed home at the far post, the goal was confirmed by VAR after a check for marginal offside against the striker.

After making it to half-time without further damage, City’s hole got deeper six minutes after the restart as Mane made it 3-0 with a header of his own.

Bernardo Silva’s goal gave the visitors a glimmer of hope in the 78th minute, but it was simply a case of too little, too late.

At the final whistle, City boss Pep Guardiola appeared to tell Oliver and his assistants “thank you very much” as he shook their hands.

Afterwards, the Spaniard couldn’t be drawn into discussing VAR.

“Ask to the referees, don’t ask me. Ask to [referee’s head] Mike Riley and the guys in VAR,” he said.

“I would like to talk about our performance, it was so good. It was one of the best performances we have played.”

In Sunday’s other games, Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers climbed into the top half of the table with home wins.

Andreas Pereira and Marcus Rashford scored to help United beat Brighton 3-1, while goals from Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez led Wolves past Aston Villa 2-1 in a West Midlands derby.

The wins leave the sides level on 16 points, with United above Wolves in seventh on goal difference.

“It was an excellent performance from the lads,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the BBC.

“The table does not really matter at the moment.

“We need to keep improving and keep winning games and see where it takes us.”


The post Liverpool open up nine-point EPL advantage appeared first on The New Daily.
Brett Lee says the choice is clear: Cummins must open Test attack

Brett Lee says the choice is clear: Cummins must open Test attack

10/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29603924

With Australia A’s match tour match in Perth looking to be a selection shootout for in the frame batsmen, Australian bowling great Brett Lee has implored Australia to give Pat Cummins the new ball in the first Test.

Travis Head will look to secure a place in Australia’s Test team in a tour match against Pakistan that will double as a national selection shootout.

Head leads a crowded field of Test candidates who will line up for Australia A in the three-day match at Perth’s Optus Stadium, starting on Monday.

Travis Head strikes a boundary during the Ashes series. Photo: Getty

Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns and Will Pucovski will also front up for the day-night clash which precedes the first Test, starting November 21 at the Gabba.

Head was Australia’s vice-captain during the Ashes but that didn’t spare him from being axed for the deciding fifth Test at The Oval.

The left-hander’s century against a Josh Hazlewood-led NSW attack in the last Sheffield Shield round has put him in the box seat to edge out talented youngster Pucovski and fill the middle-order vacancy in Australia’s Test side.

But it’s the bowling attack that has been on Brett Lee’s mind, claiming Cummins should not be a ‘first change’ option.

Cummins started the innings for most of the Ashes matches in England, but bowled first-change in the only Test he played alongside Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, in Manchester.

The 26-year-old is yet to be handed the new Kookaburra in Australian conditions, having bowled first-change behind that pair for the past two summers.

Australia’s Pat Cummins after a great day with the ball in England. Photo: Getty 

But after rising to become the world’s top-ranked bowler earlier this year, Cummins should open the bowling in the first Test at the Gabba next Thursday, Lee says, regardless of whether Starc and Hazlewood are both in the side.

“Pat Cummins has to get the new ball, he must get the new ball,” Lee told AAP. “Don’t bowl him first-change. Sure, he can do it. But don’t waste him.

“I don’t know if he’s been unfairly targeted as a guy who can play a number of roles. That’s been to his detriment, I think.

Lee said Cummins had earned the right to take the new ball.

“Yes, we’ve got guys like Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc who can also bowl with the new ball,” he said.

“But I think you’ve got to pick who you believe is the best chance of taking a wicket.

Worry about your first change when you have them three or four down.”

Cummins is now the undisputed strike weapon of Australia’s bowling attack.

He has topped the wicket-taking charts for Australia’s quicks in every full series he has played since his return from long absences due to injury in 2017.

His average of 21.45 is also the third-best of all time for Aussies who have taken 100 Test wickets.

Lee himself was one of Australia’s most successful new-ball bowlers, with his 310 scalps the third-highest of all Australian quicks.

After starting as a first-change bowler behind Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming on debut, Lee opened the bowling by his fourth Test and held onto the mantle for most of his career.

“He (Cummins) is a good team man, but you’ve also got to go ‘hang on, if I had a choice I would rather get the new ball’,” Lee said.

“If I am Pat Cummins I am saying: ‘I want that new ball. I want choice of ends.

“I’ve shown what I can do through the Ashes, I’ve shown what I could do last summer’.

“You can’t do that when you’re 18. But Pat Cummins, it’s not his first rodeo … He’s the vice-captain.”

Pakistan have brought a youthful pace attack to Australia, including 16-year-old Naseem Shah and 19-year-old Muhammad Musa.

Musa clocked 147km/h on international debut during Friday’s T20 decider in Perth.

“It’s going to be a good experience for the youngsters who have come in,” veteran Pakistan quick Wahab Riaz said.

Obviously we know that Australian players are good hookers and pullers of the ball and they play the cut shot really well.

National coach Justin Langer and chief selector Trevor Hohns will sit down on Wednesday to pick their squad for the Gabba, with Harris, Khawaja and Burns competing to open the batting alongside David Warner.

“We won’t just pick it on current form. That’s important to realise,” Langer said.

“Current form is important, what guys have done in the past over their careers is important, what they’ve done in the last six months is important.

“You saw with the way we selected this T20 side … we’re getting really specific about the sort of players we want.

“A lot of it selects itself but there’ll be a couple of spots up for grabs, I reckon. And it’ll be a tough call because there’s a lot of talent in Australia.”

-with AAP 

The post Brett Lee says the choice is clear: Cummins must open Test attack appeared first on The New Daily.
Supercars: McLaughlin snares title with ninth at Sandown 500

Supercars: McLaughlin snares title with ninth at Sandown 500

10/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29603783

Ford driver Scott McLaughlin has secured the 2019 Supercars championship on despite being penalised for an engine rule breach at the Bathurst 1000.

Forced to start Sunday’s Sandown 500 from the rear of the grid due to the breach, McLaughlin and co-driver Alex Premat finished ninth.

That result ensures the DJR Team Penske star has an unassailable 550-point championship lead heading into the season finale later this month in Newcastle.

Holden’s Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes won the race, making the most of a heartbreaking late issue for Red Bull Holden Racing Team stablemates Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander.

Craig Lowndes after winning the Sandown 500. Photo: AAP

Van Gisbergen was cruising to his first Sandown crown after a marvellous drive by Tander hauled them from 24th on the start line to third when the three-time Bathurst winner handed over the Commodore 72 laps later.

The New Zealander was able to get the jump over Whincup in the final round of pit stops and held a healthy lead when his right rear suspension suffered an issue which forced him to pit.

By the time van Gisbergen rejoined the race, Whincup was long gone and the Kiwi could only limp home 17th.

The victory is Lowndes’ sixth Sandown 500 win and Whincup’s fifth.

Ford’s Chaz Mostert came home second ahead of Tickford Racing teammate Lee Holdsworth, who ended a long wait for a Supercars podium.

Controversy hit before the start of the race with stewards announcing McLaughlin’s Ford Mustang had run an engine which breached regulations during qualifying and the top 10 shootout at last month’s Bathurst 1000.

As a result, McLaughlin and Premat were sent to the back of the grid while DJR Team Penske were fined $30,000.

McLaughlin also had his Bathurst pole position and lap record scrapped but retained his race due to the engine having been replaced before the 1000km event at Mount Panorama.

It’s the second fine issued to DJR Team Penske since the controversial Bathurst weekend. A partially suspended $250,000 fine and the loss of 300 team championship points were imposed after Fabian Coulthard was directed to hold up the field during a late safety car.

Coulthard was relegated to 21st after the “go slow” tactics allowed leading duo McLaughlin and Whincup to pit without conceding track position.

In a statement, DJR Team Penske on Sunday emphasised their belief McLaughlin’s engine was within regulations and it was never their intent to break any rules.

They attributed the breach to a failure to incorrect measuring of the engine in the assembly process or damage to the engine contributing to a change in the “maximum valve lift in the forward cylinders”.

“In some ways, I’m just glad the whole Bathurst thing is over and we can get on with some motorsport,” McLaughlin told Fox Sports before Sunday’s race.

The aftermath of Bathurst was tough for everyone in the team. It’s been a tough month.”

Holden’s David Reynolds didn’t even get to race a single lap at Sandown after co-driver Luke Youlden and David Wood tangled on lap 30, the collision sparking a safety car and damaging Reynolds’ Commodore beyond repair.

That was the only safety-car incident of the entire race, as McLaughlin kept himself out of trouble to secure his title.

The 2019 Supercars season wraps up with the Newcastle 500 from November 22 to 24.


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Fed Cup shock as Barty’s winning streak ends

Fed Cup shock as Barty’s winning streak ends

10/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29603641

France is one win away from claiming the Fed Cup title after Kristina Mladenovic broke Australian hearts with a stunning 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) win over world No.1 Ashleigh Barty in Perth.

Barty’s 15-match Fed Cup winning streak came crashing to a halt as Mladenovic mounted a lion-hearted comeback to prevail in two hours and 31 minutes and put France up 2-1 in the best-of-five rubbers final.

The loss means Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic must defeat Caroline Garcia in Sunday’s second reverse singles match to force a doubles decider.

More to come


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Fed Cup: Tomljanovic to the rescue after Barty’s shock loss

Fed Cup: Tomljanovic to the rescue after Barty’s shock loss

10/11/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29603752

Australia and France will face off in a Fed Cup title doubles decider in Perth after Ajla Tomljanovic overcame her nightmare debut to defeat Pauline Parmentier 6-4 7-5.

World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will team up with Samantha Stosur in pursuit of Australia’s first Fed Cup title in 45 years after Tomljanovic prevailed in Sunday’s second reverse singles match to even the ledger at 2-2 in the best-of-five rubbers final.

French hopes of claiming the Fed Cup title soared after Kristina Mladenovic broke Australian hearts with a stunning 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) win over world No.1 Ashleigh Barty in Perth.

Barty’s 15-match Fed Cup winning streak came crashing to a halt as Mladenovic mounted a lion-hearted comeback to prevail in two hours and 31 minutes, putting France up 2-1 in the best-of-five rubbers final.

The loss meant Tomljanovic had to defeat Pauline Parmentier in Sunday’s second reverse singles match to force the doubles decider.

France opted to bring in world No.122 Parmentier as a substitute for Caroline Garcia, who Barty thrashed 6-0 6-0 in Saturday’s singles rubber.

Mladenovic was struggling for words and in tears after claiming the biggest victory of her career.

“It’s tough to speak,” the Frenchwoman said.

We kept on fighting every single point. That’s the way I love to play my tennis … I just kept believing.”

Barty had gone into Sunday’s match at RAC Arena as the hot favourite after her annihilation of Garcia the previous day.

But world No.40 Mladenovic again proved too good, storming back from being a set down to consolidate her defeat of Barty on clay in Rome six months ago.

In a match full of momentum swings, Barty rode a wave of support from the near-capacity crowd to go up 6-5 in the third set.

But the equally determined Mladenovic served to love and didn’t blink during a ruthless tiebreaker.

Barty will be left to lament an uncharacteristically wayward performance in which she made 47 unforced errors.

The French Open champion came out firing with back-to-back aces to take the first game, then broke Mladenovic’s serve before taking the first set in 33 minutes.

But the French No.1, who thrashed Tomljanovic 6-1 6-1 on Saturday, forced her way back into the contest and consolidated in an epic 66-minute deciding set.

More to come


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