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Archive for May 2009

Nadal brushes Hewitt aside

Lleyton Hewitt is now out of this year's French Open after losing to the world number one Rafael Nadal in straight sets.

I always knew that that it was a big ask for Hewitt to beat the defending champion and infact it was Nadal who played really well he never gave Hewitt a chance.

I think this was also Nadal's toughest challenge so far at the French Open this year and he rose up to it and showed why he is going to be very tough to beat this year at Roland Garros.

So Australia is now left with two players in the singles draw, Samantha Stosur and Jarmila Groth. It was unfortunate to see Jelena Dokic retire hurt against Elena Dementieva in a match she looked like winning.

Meanwhile, the number three seed Venus Williams was knocked out by Agnes Szavay in straight sets.

I think it was poor display from Venus as she failed to win a single game in the first set. She went out at the same stage last year.

Werribee to get new services

Connex announced that it will add 290 new and extended services from 20 July in a bid to improve train travel for the commuters.

The July changes are mostly for the Werribee line with 255 changes which will enable 10 minute train frequency during off-peak.

There is nothing changing for the Epping line and many of the other lines. The only other lines to get some small changes will be Craigieburn, Frankston, Pakenham and Williamstwon.

Its good to see additional changes but I also think as a commuter I would like to see more reliability.

The new trick seems to be having delays but no cancellations.

Its not been as bad on the Epping line for me over the last few months but once in a while we get a delay of ten minutes or so but rarely cancellations especially in the morning.

Barca outclass Man Utd

Barcelona won this year's UEFA Champions League after outclassing Manchester United in the final played in Rome this morning.

Whilst Barca did not look as convincing in the two-legged semi against Chelsea, they turned on the heat against the English champions to produce a classic display of football.

I think Man U started very well in the first eight minutes or so and they looked like they were going to dominate the match but once Barca scored through Samuel Eto'o they took hold of the match for the rest of the game and could have scored more than two goals.

Interestingly Man United's start looked very similar to the start Arsenal had at the Emirates in the semi-final match against Man U before they also fizzled out after the bright start.

Last season Barca were stopped from reaching the final after they were knocked out by the eventual winners Man U but this time they had their sweet revenge.

Although people talk a lot about Lionel Messi and rightly so, I think it is Andres Iniesta who makes the whole difference with the way he dominates midfield.

Manchester United's midfield had no answer for him and together with Xavi they took control of the match and in the process made the Barca makeshift defence look so brilliant.

It was good to have a champions league final between champions from the respective leagues but with the way Barca played they made Man U look so ordinary.

Looking at the whole season I think Barca deserved to win although some may argue that they were very fortunate to go past Chelsea.

It will be interesting to see if the Catalan giants will continue in the same vein of form next season and if they do then they will keep the trophy for some time.

For the Old Trafford side, I think it was a reality check and to be fair this is probably the toughest opposition they have faced in the competition this season and they came short.

Congratulations to Barcelona on their treble and I think they deserved the trophy to cap their wonderful season.

Hewitt sets up tie with Nadal

Lleyton Hewitt won his second round tie comfortably and will now meet world number one Rafael Nadal in the third round.

After playing through five sets and in more than four hours in the first round, Hewitt made an easy job of Andrey Golubev whom he beat in straight sets.

It was business as usual for Nadal who had an emphatic win over Teimuraz Gabashvili who only managed to win 6 games in the whole match.

I think Hewitt will have to play one of his best games in a long time if he is to beat Nadal. He has never beaten Nadal on clay and I can't see that changing at Roland Garros.

In other matches Marat Safin lost to Josselin Ouanna in five sets and in anothe five setter David Ferrer beat Nicolas Kiefer.

Newcastle join Championship

The biggest news on the last day of the English Premiership was Newcastle United getting relegated to the Championship after finishing third from bottom.

At the start of the season I wouldn't have thought that the team with such talent would get into so much trouble to the point of getting relegated but this has happened.

Also before kick-off Newcastle needed just a draw to stay in the Premiership if Hull lost their match but the loss to Aston Villa ensured that the Magpies joined Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion in the second tier league next season.

I think the problems for Newcastle started when Kevin Keegan left the club. I still think that had he stayed the club would have challenged for Europe.

As for Boro, they had a very bad season and even on the last day a win was not going to be any good because of their vastly inferior goal difference compared to the other teams fighting relegation.

I wonder what's going to happen to some of the big name players who play for Newcastle. Next season leads to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and I think for most of the players going down to the Championship in such a year wouldn't be a good idea.

Closer to home there is Mark Viduka and I think he may have to look for another team if he wants to play at a high level although I doubt that going to the Championship would hamper him from going to South Africa if he wants to.

I think if he was to stay with Newcastle he would still go to the World Cup if he wanted to because I think he is still a very good player.

Its also interesting to see that Mark Schwarzer left Boro at the right time. His new team Fulham have done so well its going to play in the new Europa League next season.

The Cottagers just survived relegation last season and at first I thought Schwarzer was making a mistake by joining Fulham but he has helped his team to finish with one of the best home records this season.

I hope my team the Baggies will be able to bounce back after next season but we better be better prepared for the premiership because its not good for the fans going up and down every other year.

Its interesting to see that for next season whilst the North East of England has lost two teams from the premiership, the Midlands has gained two with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham getting promoted.

Also good for the Midlands is that Stoke were very safe in the premiership and I hope they keep like that next season.

Button wins again as Ferrari closes in

Jenson Button won his fifth grand prix out of six races this year when he won the Monaco Grand prix from pole.

I think these five wins have set Button well for the title this year but it was also very evident that the Ferrari had closed the gap.

After starting the season so badly there were good signs for Ferrari in Monaco as Ferrari got its first podium of the season through Kimi Raikkonen who finished third.

In between Button and Raikkonen was Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello who started third on the grid but snatched second place just after the start and never lost if for the rest of the race.

Just outside the podium was Ferrari's Felipe Massa who I think had a very good race. This made sure that both Ferrari cars got points for the first time this season and this could be the turning point for the team.

After getting a podium the last time around in Barcelona, this time Mark Webber got fifth place ahead of Nico Rosberg.

The last two points places were taken by former world champion Fernando Alonso and Torro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais in eighth.

It was so close for Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella who finished in ninth place. He got so close to getting the first points for his team and it was also a positive sign to see Adrian Sutil also finish the race.

The next race will be in two weeks in Turkey and it will be interesting to see if Ferrari will keep on improving and take on Brawn GP.

Hewitt survives scare at Roland Garros

Lleyton Hewitt survived a major scare at the French Open when he lost the first two sets but he managed to come back and win the last three.

In his first round match at Roland Garros the seeded Ivo Karlovic took the first two sets on tie breaks and it looked like he was going to win in straight sets but Hewitt made sure that did not happen by winning the last three sets.

I think he will need more of that if he is going to reach the latter stages of this tournament.

Also Karlovic hit 55 aces but that did not help him win the match but that ensured that the first three sets were decided on tie-breaks.

Elsewhere on the first day there were wins for Andy Murray and also Marat Safin.

SBS wins Champion League rights

SBS has secured the UEFA Champion League rights for the next three seasons and will show the matches together with Espn.

The most significant aspect of the deal is that SBS and Espn will no longer show the same matches before the semis as they have done on so many occasions this season and the years before.

In the quarter-finals for example, both stations showed the same matches on two consecutive days for both the first and second legs.

For the first leg matches, they both decided to show Manchester United/Porto and Liverpool/Chelsea and then showed the reverse fixtures the following week.

Its good to see that the same thing will not happen next season.

What I would have liked to see though is the ability for viewers to choose whatever match they would like to watch especially in the group stages.

Also SBS will show the Europa Cup matches and also the Super Cup which is good. This year they covered the UEFA Cup matches towards the end but next season they will also beam the group stage matches which is good.

Federer beats Nadal on clay

Roger Federer won his first title of the year after beating the world number one Rafael Nadal in the final of the Madrid Open.

I think this is a very significant victory for Federer especially so close to the French Open where Nadal has beaten him three times before in the final.

I don't know whether the marathon semi-final match Nadal played against Novak Djokovic had an effect on his final performance but the day belonged to Federer who stopped the Nadal run of 33 consecutive wins on clay.

I still think the real problem for Federer at Roland Garros is reaching the final itself. I think there are so many other players now who can beat him and I will not be surprised to see him not reach the final.

For starters he has to go past either Andy Murray or Djokovic assuming they reach the semis themselves but these are two players the former number one has been having problems beating.

On the other hand there I can see Nadal reaching the final again and possibly winning it.

Nadal to meet Federer in Madrid

World number two Roger Federer beat Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets to set up a final against the world number one Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open.

Nadal won in three sets against Novak Djokovic after losing the first set to the fourth ranked player.

I think Djokovic should have won that match but credit to Nadal as he managed to save three match points.

The final will be the first match that the two top players have played each other on clay this year and its going to be interesting to see how it goes.

For Federer it was straight forward win and I think he would like the final to go that way.

Its interesting to see that the Madrid Open quarter-finals saw seven of the top eight players participate.

Only Gilles Simon the number 7 was missing and it was because he lost to Ivan Ljubicic who reached the quarters.

Risky strategy for MDC-M

The last week or so has seen the suspension of five sitting MPs from the MDC-Mutambara on charges of undermining party leadership.

The suspended MPs are Abednico Bhebhe, Sijabuliso Mguni, Norman Mpofu, Thandeko-Zinti Mkandla and Maxwell Dube.

The other people suspended are not sitting MPs and these are Job Sikhala, Alex Goosen and Gift Nyandoro.

This is an interesting development as it comes from a faction that claimed to be more democratic when it broke from the main MDC which is led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

These are the MPs whose wins in the March 2008 elections enabled the smaller MDC faction to have a voice in the unity government.

MDC-M have an interesting scenario whereby the top leadership of that party failed to win seats in Parliament and only reached Parliament through the global agreement.

Suspending these MPs seems like a risky strategy because this is like suspending half the elected representatives from that party and I think it would have been better for the party to see if they could address their issues without necessarily suspending them.

I also think a strong MDC-M is good for Zimbabwe but with the way that the party now seem to be behaving it doesn't look like they would be stronger for much longer and that is a sad development.

Being the democratic party they claim to be the leadership of MDC-M should at least have discussed with key members like Sikhala to see exactly what their grievances were and to explain the party position.

I hope the MDC-M will resolve their problems soon so that they can concentrate on the real issues of rescuing Zimbabwe from its current state.

Brawn continue domination in Europe

The Brawn GP continued its domination of this year's F1 season with a one two finish in the Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya.

Jensen Button finished first to get his fourth win in five races and he was closely followed by Rubens Barrichello who at one looked like he was going to win the race.

The Brawn GP team now extends its lead in the constructors' championship to nearly 30 points over second place Red Bull.

It was also a good day for Red Bull with Mark Webber finishing third to cap his second podium finish of the season.

Behind him was Sebastian Vettel who was followed by crowd favourite Fernando Alonso.

Felipe Massa got his first points of the season as he finished and I think he must feel very unlucky to finish sixth especially as he was in fourth position as late as six laps to go.

It was however good to see Ferrari looking competitive again even though Kimi Raikkonen retired just after 17 laps.

The last two points places went to BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and Williams' Nico Rosberg.

I think BMW Sauber are a shadow of the team they were last season when they constantly challenged Ferrari and McLaren.

And talking of McLaren, they failed score any points at Catalunya with defending world champion Lewis Hamilton finished ninth and Heikki Kovalainen retired early in the race.

The next race will be the Monaco Grand Prix and I will not be surprised to see another win from Brawn GP.

Djokovic storms to Rome final

Novak Djokovic stormed to the Rome final after beating world number two Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Rome Masters in three sets.

But to reach this final he had to do it the hard way because Federer took the first set and Djokovic had to battle to get the last two sets.

So Federer failed to reach another final and I think reaching the final and getting a chance to play Rafael Nadal would have been good for his preparation for Roland Garros.

Also more worryingly is that Federer continues to lose to either world number three or four the players he is mostly likely to play in the semis if they also reach that stage.

If Djokovic fails to defend his Rome title against Nadal then he will slip to number four and Andy Murray gets number three and that's no good for Federer because he can't seem to be able to get past these two players.

I think Nadal is playing so well he should win the Rome Masters after failing to reach later stages of the same tournament last year.

Whoever wins I think its going to be yet another entertaining final.

Good news for South Morang extension

At last there has been some good news regarding the South Morang rail extension with the announcement on the Public Transport website that development and design has started on the South Morang Rail Extension.

Also on Friday the Premier John Brumby announced that State Budget will commit $562.3 million to build a rail extension of the Epping line to South Morang.

The project will also involve the duplication of the Epping line from Keon Park station.

Its good to see that this project is finally moving forward after many years of false promises.

The Department of Transport is holding two information sessions next month one at Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre and another one at Reservoir Civic Centre and if I get time I may pass through the reservoir one to learn more about this project.

Wheel out for longer

It seems like the Southern Star Observation Wheel will be out for longer than anticipated after a report in The Age stated that the wheel will be partially replaced.

When the wheel stopped operating in February it was anticipated that it would be out of operation for at six months but the latest development means that the wheel will be out for much longer.

I have been the wheel's site and so far there hasn't been any update but I will checking just in case the guys update the public about what is happening to the troubled wheel.