Mid-Air Plane Collision Kills Four In Australia

Scene of the crash. Credit: 9News.

 

Four people were killed in a mid-air collision between two light planes in Australia on Wednesday, scattering debris across a rural area north of Melbourne.

Police said the two twin-engined aircraft were each carrying a pilot and a passenger when they crashed around 4,000 feet (1,200) above the town of Mangalore.

Images from the crash scene on the ground showed twisted metal and chunks of fuselage scattered in a field and among trees.

Police said both planes were flying legally in the area but investigations were ongoing.

“We’re not sure why both aircraft were exactly on the same trajectory or why they were in that area but unfortunately they have collided mid-air,” Police Inspector Peter Koger said.

One aircraft had just taken off from the nearby airfield but the other plane’s origin was still unclear, he added.

Coco Gauff, 15, Stuns Title-Holder Osaka At Australian Open

 

 

Unseeded 15-year-old Coco Gauff beat reigning champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets in a major upset at the Australian Open on Friday.

The American prodigy, making her Melbourne debut this year, beat the third seed 6-3, 6-4 in the third round to avenge her heavy defeat at last year’s US Open.

The youngest player in the draw will play 14th seed Sofia Kenin of the United States or China’s Zhang Shuai.

“Oh my gosh. Two years ago I lost the first round in the juniors and now I’m here — this is crazy,” said Gauff.

“I was just telling myself one point at a time and just keep fighting because you never know what happens on this court.”

This was the second installment of a budding rivalry that could light up tennis for the next decade or more, having met at the US Open, where Osaka won easily.

READ ALSO: Serena Williams Stunned At Australian Open, Ending Record Bid

The teenager Gauff, who spent time training with Serena Williams in the off-season, had said she would be less nervous and more aggressive this time round.

And so it proved as they rattled through the first five games in barely 15 minutes at the 15,000-capacity Rod Laver Arena.

Osaka, a relative veteran at age 22, fired into the net to drop serve in game eight and then racked up more unforced errors in gifting Gauff the first set in 32 minutes.

“Come on!” shouted Gauff, ranked 67 but fast making a name for herself as the most exciting prospect in women’s tennis.

The young American carried the momentum into the first game of the second set, breaking a subdued and rattled Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion.

The Japanese broke back for 1-1 when Gauff volleyed into the net, but it was a rare mistake by the American and she broke once more, before serving for the match at 5-4.

The nerveless teenager clinched victory on the first match point when Osaka fired into the net.

Gauff announced herself to the sporting world at Wimbledon last year when, as a qualifier, she stunned Venus Williams in the first round.

She did the same thing to the seven-time Grand Slam champion on her Melbourne debut this week, then came back from a set and 3-0 down to defeat Sorana Cirstea on Wednesday.

When Gauff and Osaka met five months ago in New York, also in round three, then-world number one Osaka crushed the tearful and overawed teenager 6-3, 6-0 in a little over an hour.

That first clash was memorable also for what happened afterward when the teenager cried and Osaka consoled her before Osaka herself began welling up.

Serena Williams Stunned At Australian Open, Ending Record Bid

 

Serena Williams was sensationally knocked out of the Australian Open third round by China’s Wang Qiang on Friday, torpedoing her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam crown.

Williams, 38, was the bookies’ favourite to win an eighth title at Melbourne Park but she came unstuck against a determined Wang, who took only one game off the American last time they met.

The 6-4, 6/7 (2/7), 7-5 upset means Williams, whose last Major win was at the 2017 Australian Open when she was pregnant, has fallen short at eight Grand Slams since returning from having a baby in 2018.

READ ALSO: Victor Moses Signs For Inter Milan On Loan

“I think my team always believed I can do it,” said 27th seed Wang, who lost 6-1, 6-0 to Williams in last year’s US Open quarter-finals.

“After last time I did really hard work on and off-court, I believed I could do it.”

Her reward is a clash with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who upset Williams’ close friend Caroline Wozniacki, sending the Dane into retirement.

Williams, seeded eight, started slowly against the fast, positive Wang, and she was three break points down in the ninth game when Wang punched away a forehand to grab the break.

Serving for the set, Wang won a full-blooded rally to bring up set point and then sealed it to go one set up — a far cry from their last meeting in New York.

Williams came out firing for the second set but her chances plunged when she was broken to go 3-2 down, and it looked all over when she let Wang off the hook on breakpoint in the eighth.

However, Wang wobbled when she was serving for the match and Williams won a titanic 24-shot rally to break the Chinese player for the first time, raising her arms in triumph.

Williams staved off more break points before dominating the tie-breaker, where she benefited from another net cord and a Hawk-Eye review before levelling the match with a service winner.

In the tense final set, both players held firm but Wang pounced when Williams was serving to stay in it, converting her third match point as the American netted.

Wang received a torrent of criticism from Chinese fans after her capitulation to Williams in the last eight at Flushing Meadows.

The 28-year-old from Tianjin has now achieved her deepest Australian Open run, after reaching the third round last year — a prelude to her best Major performance, at the US Open.

AFP

Australia’s Cardinal Pell Loses Child Sex Abuse Appeal

 

 

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell lost his appeal against child sex abuse convictions Wednesday, prompting relief from those who fought to bring one of the Catholic Church’s most powerful men to justice.

Once the Vatican’s third-ranking official, Pell had been trying to overturn the verdicts and six-year sentence for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys at a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s.

The high-profile case pitted the powerful 78-year-old — who previously helped elect Popes, ran the Vatican’s finances and was involved in the church’s response to child sex abuse claims — against a single surviving former choirboy.

Pell, dressed in a dark suit, occasionally bowed his head as Chief Justice Anne Ferguson dismissed his arguments and described his victim as “very compelling” and someone who “was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth.”

The ruling prompted cheers to ripple into the courtroom from a large crowd gathered outside, and produced emotional statements from victims, their families and advocacy groups.

The now-adult victim — who cannot be named for legal reasons — said the “stressful” four-year legal fight had taken him “to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could not return from.”

Dismissing vocal media critics, the man said the death of his friend, the second choirboy, from a drug overdose had prompted him to break his silence.

“After attending the funeral of my childhood friend… I felt a responsibility to come forward,” he said in a statement read by his lawyer.

“I am not an advocate. You wouldn’t know my name. I am not a champion for the cause of sexual abuse survivors.”

A lawyer for the father of the second victim said he felt “a weight had been lifted.”

“He feels that justice has been delivered today. He has a real sense of relief that George Pell is behind bars tonight,” Lisa Flynn told AFP.

Following the ruling, Pell — who will be eligible for parole in three years and eight months — maintained his innocence and said he was now considering a second and final appeal.

“Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today,” said a statement issued through the church.

“His legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.”

‘Done their job’

Pell’s lawyers now have 28 days to consider further legal steps.

They had raised 13 objections to his convictions, casting doubt on everything from the physical possibility of Pell removing his robes to carry out the act, to the credibility of the main witness.

The case was unusual in that it relied heavily on the closed-door testimony of the sole surviving victim.

The three judges unanimously dismissed two so-called “fallback” arguments for Pell related to alleged procedural errors during his trial.

His lawyers argued they should have been allowed to show an animated reconstruction of peoples’ movements in the cathedral on the days of the assaults.

They also took issue with the fact that Pell was not arraigned in the presence of the jury. The process was completed via video link so the large pool of potential jurors was able to watch.

Ferguson said that despite these complaints the judges “decided that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the offence charged.”

Following Wednesday’s ruling Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed sympathy for the victims.

He said the “courts had done their job” and indicated Pell would be stripped of his Order of Australia honour.

During Pell’s trial under a court-ordered veil of secrecy, the Vatican gradually removed him from top Church bodies with little explanation.

Shortly after his conviction, Pell was removed from the so-called C9 Council of Cardinals that are effectively the Pope’s cabinet and inner circle of advisers.

The Vatican dropped him as the Church’s finance chief and opened its own probe into his actions after his conviction was made public in February.

Federer, Djokovic Win Big In Melbourne

Switzerland’s Roger Federer reacts after beating Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene in their men’s singles first round match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 16, 2018.
PETER PARKS / AFP

Flawless Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic stamped their mark on the Australian Open on Tuesday with focused former champion Maria Sharapova also successfully negotiating the first round after her drug ban.

Defending champion Federer, rated as the favourite to win his 20th Grand Slam title, made his entrance on Rod Laver Arena with a sizzling 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 lesson for Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene.

The second-seeded Swiss, who is coming off an extraordinary 2017, when he won a fifth Australian Open title and a record eighth at Wimbledon, was in total control.

“I was thinking a lot about what happened at the tournament last year because it was my favourite tournament of the whole season,” said the 36-year-old, who beat Rafael Nadal in 2017 final.

“I’m hoping for it to go well again.”

Twelve-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic has been out of action for six months with an elbow injury, but he too looked the goods in his 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 demolition of American Donald Young.

Gunning for a seventh Australian Open title, he was glad to be back at the coal face, having missed the competitive edge.

“I wanted to start with the right intensity, which I have,” he told the cheering crowd afterwards.

“I played perfect tennis in the first couple of sets and Donald came back in the third set.”

Former Melbourne champion Stan Wawrinka also successfully returned from half a year on the sidelines after knee surgery, having only decided he was fit to play at the weekend.

With the temperatures heating up, he was pushed to four sets by Ricardas Berankis before prevailing 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/2) in a tough workout he said was “proud” to come through.

World number one Simona Halep booked her place in round two, avoiding the first round exit that befell her in the past two years. But she made a meal of it against local hope Destanee Aiava.

Both the Romanian and her 17-year-old wildcard opponent needed on-court medical attention before the top seed ran out a battling 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 winner.

Third seeded Garbine Muguruza, with heavy strapping on her injured right thigh, made her tournament bow with a laboured 6-3, 6-3 win over French wildcard Jessika Ponchet.

– ‘Really meaningful’ –

Sharapova, still working her way back from a 15-month ban for taking the performance-enhancing substance meldonium in Australia in 2016, showed glimpses of the tennis that made her a five-time major winner.

The 2008 Melbourne Park champion, now ranked 48, beat Germany’s Tatjana Maria 6-1, 6-4 in her first Australian Open match in two years.

“I cherish these moments. I love it here,” said the Russian, who returned from her drugs ban in April last year.

“It’s been a couple of years and I wanted it to be really meaningful to me.”

Fellow former world number one Angelique Kerber, who won the tournament in 2016, was also impressive in dismissing Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4.

“2017, I have said goodbye already, I am not looking back,” she said after a forgettable last season that saw her relinquish the number one spot and slide down the rankings.

She is now on a 10-match win streak after a perfect early season.

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova and eighth seed Caroline Garcia also progressed, in contrast to the other side of the draw that saw Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Coco Vandeweghe crash out on Monday.

American woes continued with Madison Brengle sent packing by British ninth seed Johanna Konta.

Young gun Alexander Zverev, seeded four, Belgian seventh seed David Goffin, and dark horse Tomas Berdych were among men to make the second round.

But Canada’s Milos Raonic, who has made at least the last eight over the past three years in Melbourne, was bundled out by 86th-ranked Slovakian Lukas Lacko in four sets.

It was his earliest Grand Slam exit in seven years as he fights back from a wrist injury.

AFP

Hamilton Expects Serious Battle For 2017 F1 Championship

Formula One, Lewis Hamilton, F1 ChampionshipLewis Hamilton is expecting “a serious battle” for the 2017 Formula One Championship in the wake of Ferrari’s “spectacular” form in pre-season testing.

Ferrari finished top of the time-sheets for eight days of running in Barcelona with Kimi Raikkonen’s benchmark over half a second ahead of Mercedes’ best.

Ferrari also set the pace on all four of Pirelli’s fastest compounds and afterwards, Hamilton described their pace as spectacular and expects more from them when the season starts.

The 2017 Formula One Season will start on March 26 in Melbourne, Australia.

Federer Celebrates Australian Open Victory

Roger Federer,The Australian Open champion, Roger Federer, has celebrated his ‘fairy-tale’ victory and his 18th Grand Slam title at the men’s Australian Tennis Open championship trophy in Melbourne.

The 35-year-old stayed at Melbourne Park until the early hours of Monday before returning to his hotel.

In an interview, the Champion said:

“It was a long night, but a lot of fun. Everybody was in such a good mood — it was a special day, a special couple of weeks.

“We celebrated in a great way, being silly, having fun, chatting about everything. All the stress went away.

Federer has climbed to 10th in the rankings after his win and says it was his self-belief when he had been trailing 3-1 in the final set that had helped him to victory.

He has won his first Grand Slam title in five years on Sunday, defeating Rafael Nadal in a five-set final, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Australian Open: Nadal, Raonic Qualify For Last 16

Milos Raonic , Rafael Nadal, Australian OpenFormer champion Rafael Nadal has beaten Alexander Zverev to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The 30-year-old, who won the title in 2009, overcame his opponent in a gripping contest to qualify for the last 16 stage of the competition in Melbourne.

He came through 4-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 in four hours and six minutes on Saturday.

Nadal, will play France’s Gael Monfils, who also beat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-6 (7-1) 6-4.

Canada’s Milos Raonic has also cruised to the next round with a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3 win over France’s Gilles Simon.

Australian Open: Serena Williams Through To Fourth Round

Serena Williams, Australian OpenSerena Williams has beaten fellow American Nicole Gibbs to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The world number two won 6-1 6-3 in 63 minutes on Saturday.

She is chasing a 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The 35-year-old six-time champion will play Czech’s Barbora Strycova, who also beat France’s Caroline Garcia 6-2 7-5.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova came through a dramatic match to beat Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.

She goes on to face Britain’s Johanna Konta, who trashed Caroline Wozniaki 6-3 6-1.

Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni also advanced to the last 16 for the first time with a 3-6 6-2 6-3 win over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Australian Open: Serena, Djokovic Win In Melbourne

Djokovic-serena- ITfDefending champion, Serena Williams, has dispelled doubts about her fitness and form after a four-month break from the game with a tense 6-4 7-5 win over feisty Italian Camila Giorgi to reach the second round of the Australian Open.

Williams closed out the match with a customary barrage of booming first serves.

In the men’s draw, world number one and defending champion, Novak Djokovic, advanced to the second round with a dominant 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory over Chung Hyeon.

The 28-year-old Serb looked untroubled by the Melbourne heat in the 115-minute contest, charging around Rod Laver Arena and rattling off 40 winners.

Australian Teen Admits Terror Charge

Australian Teen Admits Terror ChargeAs Australia continues to tighten its security, a teenager detained during raids in Melbourne in May has pleaded guilty to a terror-related charge.

The 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty to planning a terrorist act between April and May this year.

He admitted the charge ahead of a committal hearing and prosecutors dropped two other charges.

Reports said that earlier hearings were told he prepared to make explosives after obtaining instructions online.

Police also told the court that radical Islamic propaganda was found during the raids.

The boy did not apply for bail. He has been remanded in custody and is set to appear in court again on Thursday.

Australia Beat England At Cricket World Cup

australiaAaron Finch smashed a sparkling century as Australia gave England a 111-run humiliation in their opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground at the ongoing Cricket World Cup.

The batsman blasted 135 at his home ground to lay the platform for victory as the co-hosts piled on 342 to two runs shy of the venue’s one-day international record.

For Australia, the only blot in a dominant display was Watson’s failure to score or take a wicket and a dropped catch by Finch when Taylor was on 20.

Captain Michael Clarke is expected to return for the second match against Bangladesh after undergoing a hamstring surgery.

When Finch and Bailey fell, England looked like they might check Australia’s progress, but Maxwell provided the late carnage. The final 10 overs yielded 105 runs, including 76 off the last six.

An expected defeat by the tournament favourites, however, does little damage to England’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

What should provide cause for concern is the manner of the defeat. They were adjudged to be substandard in the field, lacked control at the end of the Australia innings and were only saved from their heaviest World Cup defeat by Taylor.

The most costly mistake was made by Woakes, dropping a simple chance above his head at square leg off James Anderson to reprieve Finch from only the fifth delivery.

Steven Finn claimed the first World Cup hat-trick by an England bowler from the final three balls of the innings, all skied catches.