Federer pain-free and on track for Australian Open


October 21, 2020

(Reuters) – Roger Federer is practising pain-free after undergoing two knee surgeries this year and says he expects to return to the circuit at the Australian Open in January.

The 39-year-old Swiss reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park at the start of the year but missed the rest of the season after undergoing a second arthroscopic procedure on his right knee.

“I’m on the right track,” the 20 times Grand Slam singles champion told German-language magazine Schweizer Illustrierte.

“I’m gradually coming back but I’m going to take my time and don’t want to put any pressure on myself. I will only take part in a tournament when I am 100% fit.

“At the moment, it looks like I can make my comeback at the Australian Open in January.”

While he has made significant progress in his recovery he says he is still not at the point where he can train as normal.

“Not yet, more than two hours with the racket are not possible at the moment,” said Federer, who is currently ranked fourth in the world and saw Rafa Nadal equal his Grand Slam haul with a 13th French Open title this month.

“But I’ve been working on my stamina and strength absolutely without pain for a while. There will be no further operations.”

Federer is often asked about his retirement plans but the Swiss said he would keep playing as long as he was enjoying it.

“I have been thinking about ideas for about five years,” he added. “But as long as I am having fun and it’s right for all of us, I’ll keep going.”

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford)





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Melbourne Cup 2019 weather forecast, Flemington, rain, track rating, soft, good


The latest weather forecast suggests you’ll want to back a horse who can handle soft ground in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

Up to 7mm of rain is forecast to fall at the track on Monday, following on from a wet weekend.

The good news is Tuesday is expected to be dry, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting sunny and cloudy conditions with a top of 18 degrees Celcius.

FORM GUIDE: JIMMY CASSIDY’S THOUGHTS ON EVERY HORSE, TIPS

MELBOURNE CUP MAIL: WHY EVERY RUNNER CAN AND CAN’T WIN



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The Great Race’s first winner Frank Coad remembers a rough, hand-laid track, and a car that dealt with it


The Bathurst 1000 is arguably Australia’s most famous race, the equivalent of the footy grand final for rev heads.

The smell of high octane fuel, burning rubber, and the sound of the supercars screaming past continues to draw thousands of spectators back to the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, Victoria, every year.

But the epic supercar race Australians have come to know and love looked very different when the first cars crossed the start line back in 1960.

For the first two years, not only did the race have a different name, but it was held in a different state.

Frank Coad and his co-driver John Roxburgh were the first winners of The Great Race, then named the Armstrong 500 and held on Phillip Island in Victoria.

While Mr Roxburgh sadly passed in 1993, Mr Coad is 90 years old and living in a retirement home in Bendigo, Victoria, with his wife Zena.

1960 Armstrong 500 winner Frank Coad with his two daughters Susan Owen, left, and Julie Tyrrell.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Preparation was key

He remembers the race as clearly now as it happened, 60 years ago.

“We felt pretty confident,” he said.

“John Roxburgh was my co-driver, he started off the race, he did 40 something laps, then I took over and did 40 odd laps, then he took over another 40, then I finished off the race.

“A fortnight beforehand we’d done a full 500 mile under race conditions.”

The car they won the race in was a Vauxhall Cresta, a six-cylinder sedan.

It certainly was not the race favourite.

But as Mr Coad will attest, it was all about preparation.

“We’d put in about three or four months of work getting ready for it,” he said.

“We had the car so finely tuned.”

He said the car clocked 98 miles an hour at race day, the equivalent of about 157kph.

“We had it sewn up pretty much after the first pit stop,” he said.

A black and white photo of the Vauxhall Cresta during the race at the 1960 Armstrong 500.
Frank Coad’s Vauxhall Cresta at Phillip Island during the 1960 Armstrong 500.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Mr Coad said the drivers, brothers David and John Youl, brought the car over from Tasmania and did not know enough about the Phillip Island grand prix circuit — hand-laid using buckets of cold mix bitumen.

“We’d done all our preparation, we knew how far we could go on our front tyres without any troubles, and they didn’t.

“They went through the first pit stop and they carried on with the original tyres hoping they’d get another run out of them.

“But it didn’t happen.

“A tyre blew, they turned it over and wrecked it.”

The rough track was the reason the race was moved, as the bridge access to Phillip Island made it difficult to get the right equipment in to fix it.

Five men stand in front of cars.
Phillip Island legends Craig Lowndes, Peter Brock, Frank Coad, Russell Ingall and Mark Skaife meet in 2002.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Mr Coad said he tuned in to watch Bathurst every year, but it was not the same race he remembered.

“That disappeared by about 1964.

“It’s all changed, it has done over the years — as everything does.”

Racing was ‘bad business’

Mr Coad said General Motors, the parent company of the Vauxhall brand, considered racing “bad business” and didn’t want the Melbourne Vauxhall dealership to be involved in the race.

“They weren’t into motor racing in those days,” he said.

A man and a woman stand wearing sunglasses in front of a car in a black and white photo from the 1960s
Frank Coad said his wife Zena Coad was a great supporter of his career and a fantastic passenger.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

He said when the Melbourne Vauxhall dealership opened after the race, the demand for the Cresta model went through the roof.

“They didn’t want to buy a Velox, they wanted to buy a Cresta and they couldn’t get enough Crestas to sell,” Mr Coad said.

He said the prize money for first place was a far cry from the amount the Bathurst 1000 winner would take home today.

“I was married with three little children. My wife was nursing a six-week-old baby when I won it,” he said.

Reviving history

Mr Coad’s daughter Susan Owen lives in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in WA’s Goldfields region.

She reached out to the ABC after hearing an off-the-cuff comment about the upcoming Bathurst 1000 race on local radio.

Ms Owen said she wanted Australia to hear her father’s story.

“A lot of people don’t know The Great Race started in Phillip Island and that’s the sad part, I suppose,” she said.

Since being stuck in lockdown, Mr Coad has not been able to get behind the wheel, but he still loves to drive.

“I drive around in a 1995 Holden ute today, but it’s done 430,000 kilometres,” he said.

He said he had always driven fast, and racing is in his blood.

He said there was only one thing holding him back.

“There’s too many police around,” he said.

Watch Brock: Over The Top at 8:30pm on Tuesday, November 3, on ABC TV+iview



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Are Richmond on track for a dynasty?


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It would be the clearest signal yet that Richmond are capable of going back-to-back and winning three flags in four seasons.

Two more wins and the Tigers are in the same conversation as Hawthorn, Brisbane and Geelong as the pre-eminent clubs of this century. Imagine thinking that in 2016?

Even just making the grand final, given all the odds stacked against Victorian sides in 2020, would be extraordinary. Travel, living away from home, off-field scandals and heat about their on-field discipline have been biting at the Tigers heels at a seemingly constant rate.

Footy clubs are process driven, and those inside them say their eyes rest solely on the next win.

But the likes of coach Damien Hardwick, Jack Riewoldt, captain Trent Cotchin and chief executive Brendon Gale not pondering the historic implications of back-to-back and three in four years would be hard to believe.

Last time lessons?

These sides played arguably the game of the season in round 11.

Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt and Port’s Tom Clurey in the round 11 clash.Credit:Getty Images

Following a game of high intensity and wild momentum swing the Power piled on three quick goals at the start of the final term to essentially take control of the match. Richmond were missing seven players that played in their semi-final win over St Kilda, including Cotchin, Shane Edwards, Dion Prestia and Bachar Houli. Port did not have Connor Rozee, Brad Ebert and qualifying final goal kicker Steven Motlop.

Interestingly, when asked about Lynch’s misdemeanours, Hardwick has repeatedly not taken the opportunity to denounce his behaviour.

He does say that he wants his players to play within the rules, but from there he continues to encourage an aggressive approach to the game.

That’s no surprise, and internally the Tigers coaches and leaders have implored their players to rein in their ill discipline that leads to 50m penalties.

But it’s been such a feature of Richmond’s season that it is hard to say it will definitely not be part of this preliminary final.

A high-pressure game in a high-pressure atmosphere against a team who are the best around the ball, and the best at locking the ball into their forward half: Things are bound to get willing.

Richmond cannot afford to have any mis-steps in this respect on Friday if they want to give themselves the best chance of winning.

Week off woes?

Port Adelaide have played one game in three weeks, the Tigers have played two.

In a season where all teams have had to play a lot of matches in a little time, it will be interesting to see the impact of only playing once in 21 days.

The extra week has given Todd Marshall and Xavier Duursma a chance to recover from injury, while the Tigers were able to keep their legs ticking along in a fairly high intensity win over St Kilda.

Some thought the extra week off bit Richmond in the backside in 2018 when they unexpectedly lost the preliminary final to a momentum-filled Collingwood side.

Charlie Dixon has been a power for Port this season.

Charlie Dixon has been a power for Port this season.Credit:Getty Images

Which big man bites?

Sure, Tom Hawkins won the Coleman Medal, but try picking only one of Hawkins, Charlie Dixon and Lynch for your side if you had the chance.

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The impact of Lynch’s fair physicality is often overlooked because he steals the headlines with cheap shots, but don’t underestimate how significant his controlled bullocking can be.

It’s no secret how dominant Dixon is, just looking at him is enough to strike fear into opposition fans.

Port’s defence is underrated but there are still question marks on Trent McKenzie. If he gets the job on Lynch, can he do it? He was lucky that Hawkins’ radar was off in the qualifying final.

PREDICTION
Port Adelaide by nine points.

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Federal Budget puts Perth-to-Bunbury fast-train investigation back on track



A fast train between Perth and Bunbury is back on the agenda after a Federal Government pledge, with a transport expert saying a fast-rail service will complement plans for a trackless tram between Bunbury and Busselton.

Ahead of today’s Budget, the Commonwealth has promised $4 million to partially fund an $8 million investigation into the Perth to Bunbury Faster Rail Corridor.

The idea of a high-speed rail service was first flagged in 2008, but no firm plans have been drawn up.

Despite promising to continue planning for high-speed rail ahead of the last election, the WA Government is yet to allocate the remainder of the funding.

However, Bunbury MP Don Punch said he welcomed the Budget pledge.

He said he expected the study to look at the possibility of building a second rail line to Bunbury, in addition to the existing Australind train line, but admitted a new line would be up to 20 years away.

The 2020 Federal Budget explained:

Train and tram ‘drawcard’

In addition to a fast train, researchers at Curtin University are exploring the potential for a trackless tram between Bunbury and Busselton.

The idea is for a solar and wind powered tram to start at the Bunbury train station and provide links to the CBD, beaches and to popular attractions further down the coast such as the Busselton Jetty.

Professor of sustainability Peter Newman said the train and tram services would complement each other.

“Getting on a train from the centre of Perth … taking a very quick trip and then being in the South West for a really good tourist tram experience, I think that would add significantly to the case for having a fast train,” Professor Newman said.

‘Expensive’ and a long way off

South West Liberal MP Steve Thomas agreed with Mr Punch that it would be a long time before a new rail line could be set up, and estimated the project itself could cost up to $3 billion dollars.

He said studies in the past had found the train could also be costly to run.

However, Professor Newman, who was involved in the start-up of the Perth-to-Mandurah train line, said he was confident the new fast train would be viable and pay for itself.

“Many people said there will be no more than 600 people use that train and it will not pay for itself for centuries,” he said.

“Well it did pay for itself very quickly because it’s carrying the equivalent of eight trains of traffic… because it’s fast and it’s a very attractive service.”



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Data guru Bela Stantic reveals Donald Trump is on track to win again


A data scientist who correctly predicted Donald Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 says the US President is currently on track to win again.

Professor Bela Stantic is the founder and director of Griffith University’s Big Data and Smart Analytics Lab, where he analyses social media data and sentiment to predict voters’ behaviour.

In the past, those predictions have been extraordinarily accurate.

Four years ago, Prof Stantic successfully picked the winner in 49 of the 50 American states. His lab also nailed the result of both the 2016 Brexit referendum and our own federal election last year.

In all three cases, public opinion polling pointed to the opposite result.

RELATED: Data guru correctly predicts Scott Morrison’s victory

At the moment, the polls show Mr Trump trailing his opponent, Joe Biden, by an average of 6.2 per cent at the national level. They’re a bit closer in the key battleground states, where Mr Biden leads by 3.9 per cent.

It looks like a comfortable lead for the Democratic Party’s nominee. But, just like Ms Clinton’s lead four years ago, it could be a mirage.

RELATED: Trump’s polls are terrible, but can they be trusted?

Prof Stantic recently conducted a preliminary, draft analysis of the upcoming US election. His lab’s complete analysis, along with a final prediction of the result, will come closer to polling day on November 3.

“It is obvious again that Trump will lose the popular vote,” he told news.com.au.

“However, he’s tracking really well in the crucial states. Florida is a coin toss, but he’s slightly ahead for me. And Minnesota and Pennsylvania as well. And then Texas, he will win easily.

“So then that gives him an edge to get about 270, 280 electoral votes.

“It is maybe early, but I can tell you that the trend we identified in advance last time is holding.”

So, according to that analysis, we are heading for an electoral map which looks something like this.

RELATED: How America’s presidential election system works

In other words, the race is close – pretty much neck-and-neck – but Mr Trump is once again on course to lose the popular vote while winning the decisive electoral vote.

About 2.9 million more Americans cast ballots for Ms Clinton than for Mr Trump in 2016. However, the President’s support was distributed more efficiently.

While the Democrat racked up huge margins in populous but uncompetitive states like California and New York, Mr Trump managed to scrape to relatively narrow victories in the states that actually mattered, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

That gave him a 304-227 edge in the Electoral College, comfortably above the winning threshold of 270.

Prof Stantic said the 2020 election was, broadly speaking, the same sort of race.

“It’s really a coin toss. I think Florida, at the moment, is a coin toss, but Trump is just ahead,” he said.

But his draft analysis dug up one particularly important – and perhaps surprising – difference between 2016 and 2020.

“I find that this time it is more polarised than last time,” Prof Stantic said.

He reached that conclusion by analysing the comments on Mr Biden’s social media posts.

“People reacted so harshly against Biden. It was 30,000-something comments, and all strongly against him,” he said.

“They are saying that he cannot be trusted, that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ‘At least Trump, what he says, he thinks.’ Comments along these lines.

“There was not much support for Biden.”

This is an interesting wrinkle, because the conventional wisdom you often hear from political experts – and occasionally, from self-important journalists – is that Ms Clinton was a more polarising figure than Mr Biden is.

Four years ago, Mr Trump and Ms Clinton both had unusually high disapproval ratings in the polls. This time, Mr Biden’s favourability rating is pretty much split down the middle.

“I feel they hate him more than Hillary,” Prof Stantic said.

He pointed out that, as potentially the first female president, Ms Clinton could at least rely on enthusiastic support from women.

“Why would you vote for someone who has issues expressing himself, and doesn’t know what he’s saying? That is what people – when I looked at the topics of discussion, what is dominating,” he said.

“If it were a better candidate (than Biden), Trump would lose easily.”

RELATED: Trump uses misleading map to overstate his support

Prof Stantic’s method is not infallible. It did, for instance, get the result of Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite wrong, for reasons he explained in detail afterwards.

But he says his lab’s analysis is more reliable than opinion polling, because it involves a significantly larger sample size.

“I think the polls are volatile because their sample size is very small. They have a thousand people, and it depends on who you interview,” he said.

“I’m talking about millions of posts. Last month, I think I had 800,000 posts in one day.

“It’s not just about these 800,000, but it’s also that some posts have 20,000-30,000 likes.”

People also tend to be more honest when expressing their opinions on social media than when a pollster quizzes them.

And the peculiar nature of America’s system, which hinges on the candidates winning states (rather than, say, seats like in Australia), helps make Prof Stantic’s job simpler, because the data allows him to pinpoint exactly which state people will be voting in.

“Australia, it’s a bit hard because of seats and their locations. The US election, it’s easier to predict,” he said.

“Users put the state in their location when they open their accounts.

“It’s much easier to identify a location, and then everything else is pure mathematics.”

Who do you think will win the US election? Continue the conversation on Twitter: @SamClench





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Randwick get season back on track after teaching Students a lesson


The floodgates then opened up, with Triston Reilly crashing over down the right edge after lovely last pass from Horwitz before back-rower Christian Poidevin dashed away with a 55-metre intercept that would have delighted his dad Simon, the former Wallaby, watching on in the stands at Sydney University.

“It’s good to get on the front foot, win that set-piece and go from there,” Poidevin said. “Going into finals we can build from here. I think we’re up for that cup.”

University, the two-time reigning Shute Shield premiers, were shell-shocked and unable to stem the flow.

Matters were made worse when Rohan O’Regan was sent to the bin for foul play at a ruck but the Students’ No.8 made up for his indiscretion by scoring just before half-time to keep his side in with a slim chance of a comeback.

It wasn’t to be though as the boys in green produced a couple of tries just after the break, including one to Waratahs halfback Mitch Short, to send University back to the drawing board.

The scoreboard didn’t reflect how one-sided the game was and sets up a fascinating run to the finals with three regular season games remaining.

“I think our backline got really physical, last week we were off,” Reilly said. “This week we came out and were dominant over our opposition. Our defence paid off. We knew we had to win this game to cement ourselves in the ladder. Those three losses hurt us and getting that win today means a lot to us.”

University’s Josh Kemeny said: “Randwick were really clinical and pounced on our mistakes.”

Meanwhile, Gordon’s unbeaten run has come to and end after they were pipped by Norths 24-13 in a tight affair on home turf at Chatswood Oval.

After eight victories, Gordon, very much flying under the radar at the start of the year, were every chance of going through the 13 rounds without dropping a game. But Norths, who thumped Randwick 46-17 last week, continued their hot form and maintained second spot on the ladder.

In other games, Eastwood were too strong for Penrith in a 33-point win, Eastern Suburbs knocked off Manly 22-5, while Southern Districts rebounded back from a heavy loss to Gordon last week with a 49-24 win over the Hunter Wildfires.

Warringah were also too good for Western Sydney, recording a 58-15 win at Rat Park.

Shute Shield round 10 results

Sydney University 24-42 Randwick
Eastwood 47-14 Penrith
Gordon 13-24 Norths
Manly 5-22 Eastern Suburbs
Southern Districts 49-24 Hunter Wildfires
Warringah 58-15 Two Blues

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Parramatta on track for top-four NRL spot


There were moments of brilliance but top-four bound Parramatta were not convincing in their 26-12 win over Brisbane on Friday night.

Continuing question marks over their attack, the Eels all but shored up a top-four spot but failed to put the bottom-placed Broncos to the sword as expected at Bankwest Stadium.

A win against the Wests Tigers in the last game of the season should assure them a second chance in the NRL finals with Canberra chasing hard four points behind.

The most dramatic moment of the game came two minutes into the second half when prop Junior Paulo was put on report for a dangerous tackle on David Fifita.

It could mark Fifita’s last game in a Broncos jersey with their final game of the season just six days away.

The Gold Coast-bound forward was taken from the field with what is believed to be a low-grade ankle sprain after Paulo’s 123kg frame fell on his lower leg.

“There’s nothing in that is there? It shouldn’t even have been a penalty,” said Eels coach Brad Arthur, baffled as to why Paulo was put on report.

“What’s he supposed to do?”

Last month Jesse Bromwich and Tyrell Fuimaono became the first two players suspended for the move which falls under dangerous contact.

However, should Paulo cop a grade-one charge and take the early guilty plea he will not miss a game.

After weeks of stuttering performances, the Eels looked nervy early but scored four tries in 19 minutes to lead 20-6 at halftime.

And while it was hardly a fair fight, it served as a reminder of what the Eels are capable of when they’re on.

“It was a step in the right direction, it was better,” Arthur said.

“I thought we tried to play a lot more football.

“We played a nice power game there for a while, just the second half would have been nice to nail a couple of those opportunities but got to give credit to the Broncos, I thought they were brave.”

Fifita’s try was the best of two for the Broncos when he shrugged off a poor tackle from Mitch Moses to power over and score.

However, two tries to Eels fullback Clint Gutherson in four minutes gave the Eels the healthy halftime lead.

But they did not go on with it in the final 40 minutes.

Everything was set up for them to run up a score at home to build confidence leading into the finals, but somehow it didn’t reach any great heights.

The loss was the 10th straight for the Broncos and puts them on a collision course with their first-ever wooden spoon.

To avoid it they will need to beat North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night and hope Canterbury don’t upset minor premiers Penrith.

“There’s a lot of pride in what they’re doing at the moment,” said innterim coach Peter Gentle.

“We didn’t get the result and there’s areas of our game that can be a lot better, don’t get me wrong but there’s a lot we can be proud of too.”





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