Ash Barty beats Karolína Plíšková in tough three-setter, extends win streak over top-10 players



The bigger they are, the more likely Ash Barty will make them fall.

Facing the very best in the business — and beating them — has now become the Australian’s calling card.

She was at it again on Friday, looking perilously close to losing to the big-hitting world number nine Karolína Plíšková in the Tennis Grand Prix quarter-final in Stuttgart before finding a gutsy way to eke out a win.

Increasingly, the woman who sits at the top of the rankings seems to have a bit of an aura about her when she’s facing her rivals in the top 10.

Indeed, in her last eight matches against WTA top-tenners, stretching back two years, Barty has come out on top in every one.

Having to defuse the bombs of Plíšková may have been the toughest of the lot as five times she came within two points of being knocked out before prevailing 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.

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Ultimately, though, the Czech went the same way as Barty’s other top-10 victims since 2019 — Petra Kvitová, Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka and Bianca Andreescu.

“I try and narrow that focus for every single match, regardless of who I am playing,” said Barty, when asked about her remarkable record in the post-match press conference.

“But I think when you come up against top-10 opponents you have to go that level above to be able to play and it forces you to bring your best, to try and be able to compete every single time you are on the court.

“With a lot of the girls in the top 10, we’ve had plenty of matches going either way, different experiences.

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Barty hasn’t lost to a top-10 match since being beaten by Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens in the WTA Finals round robin match in Shenzhen in 2019, but the tests come thick and fast.

Next up in Saturday’s semi-final will be Svitolina, the world number five.

The Ukrainian, who saved two match points en route to knocking out holder Petra Kvitová, has a 5-2 win record against Barty but, perhaps significantly, has been beaten in the last two — in this year’s Miami Open and the climax to the 2019 WTA Finals.

It promises to be a special occasion as Barty will be celebrating her 25th birthday — although her family were already able to celebrate the landmark after watching her victory over Plíšková in the early hours of Saturday morning back home in Australia.

“It’s exciting to be playing on my birthday. I mean it’s what I love to do, playing against another tough opponent. There is no better challenge and no better way for me to celebrate.”

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Australian basketball star Shyla Heal taken inside top-10 of WNBA Draft


A second member of the Heal family is hoping to make it big in the US.

Shyla Heal, the teenage daughter of Australian basketball legend Shane Heal, is heading to the WNBA after Chicago Sky selected her with pick No. 8 in Friday’s (AEST) draft.

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Shane played in the NBA with Minnesota and San Antonio and was by Shyla’s side at The Star in Sydney on Friday morning when the announcement came through she was off to the Windy City.

She joins Opals icons Liz Cambage and Lauren Jackson as the only Aussies to go top-10 in the WNBA draft and will ply her trade Stateside in the most competitive league in the world.

Shyla enjoyed a stellar 2020 season Down Under playing for the Townsville Fire, winning the Youth Player of the Year award to cement her status as one of Australia’s brightest up-and-coming basketball talents.

Her hot streak put the 19-year-old on the radar for national selection ahead of this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup, and earned her a spot in the All-WNBL Second Team.

Townsville coach Sandy Brondello said late last year: “She is going to be an Opal; it is just a matter of when.

“She has got really good skills and I think she has improved in her playmaking ability.

“Not just being a scorer, but it is also about being a creator and distributor.

“She is on the up and she is only going to get better and better.”

Heal has long been touted for big things after debuting in the WNBL at just 14 and finished last season among the league’s top five scorers, averaging 25.3 points and 7.3 assists per game.

Heal was documenting her day on social media as the WNBA Draft took place, and looked excited as she waited with her family for her name to be called out.

Thank you for visiting My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed checking out this post on Aussie sports news titled “Australian basketball star Shyla Heal taken inside top-10 of WNBA Draft”. This news update was brought to you by My Local Pages as part of our national news services.

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Top-10 draft hopeful “gobsmacked” by “bizarre” Crows question


Tanner Bruhn was left “gobsmacked” when in an interview with the Adelaide Crows recently.

The Geelong Falcons and Vic Country midfielder says he was surprisingly asked a question relating to recently-signed Essendon youngster Jye Caldwell and cricket.

Bruhn, who is being tipped to go in the top 10 in next month’s AFL National Draft, admits it was a bit “bizarre” to answer such a query.

“Adelaide asked me how would I get Jye Caldwell out in cricket,” he said on SEN’s The Sporting Capital.

“Which just come out of nowhere. I was gobsmacked.”

The connection is that Bruhn and Caldwell both attended Geelong Grammar and did play some cricket together.

“I used to play with him. He went to Geelong Grammar and I’m studying there now,” he said of the Caldwell connection.

“But it was just out of the blue, just one of those bizarre ones.”

Bruhn explained how he responded.

“It just came to my mind straight away, I thought this is bloody bizarre,” he added.

“I just said LBW I think. He’s been out LBW a few times so I just threw that one in there.”

And how did the Crows recruiters react?

“They sort of watch you closely just to see how you respond,” he said further.

“I think (to see) if you crumble under the pressure, if you look curious or little things like that, your body language as well.

“They started talking about cricket as well. They really got into it asking, ‘What’s your highest score?’, ‘Off how many balls?’

“I think I’d faced almost 200 balls and they were like, ‘Nice, that’s good, shows you’re patient’.”

As for his exploits on the footy field, Bruhn says he has been keeping close tabs on a certain West Coast midfielder in order to draw inspiration.

“I’ve been watching Luke Shuey the last five or so years,” he said when asked how he plays.

“I’m a West Coast supporter so I’ve been keeping a close eye on him.

“He’s someone I model my game on.”

AFL Media draft guru Cal Twomey has Bruhn ranked at pick 7 on his latest phantom list ahead of the National Draft on December 9.







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GWS “digging in” with top-10 Caldwell request


The GWS Giants are in no mood to allow Jye Caldwell to walk to Essendon on the cheap.

SEN’s Sam Edmund reported on AFL Trade Radio on Thursday that “Essendon has offered a future second-round pick… (but) GWS has told Essendon they want more”.

He has followed up today with a fresh report that the Giants have made it clear they want a top-10 draft pick if the 20-year-old midfielder is to leave the club.

“They’ve got Jye Caldwell convinced he wants play for Essendon, we know that,” Edmund said on SEN’s The Captain’s Run.

“Essendon have offered a future second-round pick, GWS have told them they want more.

“I can tell you how much more they want – they want a top-10 pick.

“That’s what they’ve asked for, for a player who was pick 11 in 2018, they’ve put two years of development into him.

“GWS, they’re dirty on it. They’re dirty on a lot of things so they’re digging in here on Jye Caldwell.

“Essendon’s stance is take it or leave it with the future second-round, we’ll walk him through the pre-season draft if we have to.

“That didn’t sit overly well with the Caldwell camp, young kid, a bit of anxiety there, you can understand that.

“I think a deal will get done eventually. You can understand GWS’ reluctance given they’ve had players leave at one end of the age bracket and now they’ve had two of their first three picks (including Jackson Hately) in the 2018 draft as well.

“They’re not in the mood to just roll over.”

Bendigo Pioneers product Caldwell, who debuted in 2019, has played 11 games for the Giants including nine in 2020.







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Drivers ready for Bathurst top-10 shootout


Provisional Bathurst 1000 pole sitter Lee Holdsworth has warmed up for the top-10 shootout with another speedy practice session.

The Ford veteran dominated Supercars qualifying on Friday to give himself the best chance of securing a maiden Mt Panorama pole.

In the final practice before Saturday’s shootout, Holdsworth took the reins of his Mustang for most of the session after co-driver Michael Caruso had a go earlier on.

The 37-year-old Caruso pulled off the second-quickest lap of the 25-car strong field, with Tickford teammate Cameron Waters the fastest.

Holdsworth will get the last shot at producing the fastest lap around the famous circuit in the shootout ahead of Sunday’s 161-lap race.

Scott McLaughlin, who has already wrapped up his third-straight Supercars championship, shapes as the man to beat as he chases back-to-back Bathurst crowns.

McLaughlin has asserted himself as one of Supercars’ greatest ever in qualifying and will be the eighth driver out of the pitlane.

In teaming up with with two-time Bathurst 1000 winner Will Davison, Waters has been quick all weekend and is considered a genuine contender to claim his maiden win in the great race.

The shootout will get underway at 5.05pm AEDT on Saturday.

BATHURST 1000 TOP-10 SHOOTOUT ORDER

1. Nick Percat (Holden)

2. James Courtney (Ford)

3. Chaz Mostert (Holden)

4. Anton de Pasquale (Holden)

5. Fabian Coulthard (Ford)

6. Jamie Whincup (Holden)

7. Cameron Waters (Ford)

8. Scott McLaughlin (Holden)

9. Shane van Gisbergen (Holden)

10 (provisional pole). Lee Holdsworth (Ford)





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Three key forwards touted as likely top-10 draft prospects


AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan has tipped three key forwards to go inside the top-10 at this year’s National Draft.

One of those forwards is Oakleigh Chargers prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan who is tied to the Western Bulldogs through the Next Generation Academy.

Despite being touted as the No.1 pick, Ugle-Hagan is expected to join the Bulldogs who have priority access to the 194cm talent.

“There will be three (key forwards) in the first five or six,” Sheehan told SEN’s Dwayne’s World.

“But one is locked away, it’s a case of when the bid will come. We’re talking about the much-publicised Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

“He’s a left footer, has the traits of a Buddy (Lance Franklin), he’s Indigenous but he’s a tall forward of about Buddy’s size and he does move like him.

“He’s been a star in his 16th and 17th year. He’s a Victorian boy from South Warrnambool, plays at the Oakleigh Chargers and kicked 11 goals in the finals series last year.”

Sheehan also expects Riley Thilthorpe and Luke McDonald to go early in the first-round with the latter drawing comparisons to St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt.

“The two other boys are Riley Thilthorpe; 201cm, is over 100kg and he’s played all year at West Adelaide and has been a star emerging now for a couple of years since he made All-Australian at the under 16s,” Sheehan said.

“He is right there as well with Logan McDonald.

“He’s likened to a Nick Riewoldt with his running patterns. He’s a boy of 196cm, had a terrific first year in the WAFL competition, plays at Perth and kicked over 20 goals.

“He can run like Nick in terms of his endurance, he presents like him, he’s a boy that really came onto our radar at the under 16s – he kicked six against Vic Metro, that’s making a statement straight away.”

The 2020 National Draft commences on Monday December 7.






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