Last-minute wildcard pays off for Stosur

Samantha Stosur completed a dream French Open build-up with victory over Kristina Mladenovic in the final of the Strasbourg International.

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Third-seeded Stosur recovered from a set down to beat the Frenchwoman 3-6 6-2 6-3 to claim her first WTA title since last October.

Australia’s former Roland Garros runner-up saved multiple break points to solidify a 5-2 advantage in the deciding set before closing out the match after one hour and 55 minutes.

“It was good tennis. She was playing exceptionally well in that first set,” Stosur said.

“I didn’t have too many chances to do anything early on, but I started getting some chances in the second set.

“I started playing a little bit differently, getting in control of the rallies early on, which wasn’t the case in the first set – she was dominating out there – and then I was able to do it the rest of the match and finish it.

“There were some tricky moments in the third set – she had a few points to get it back on serve – but I’m happy I was able to keep it up and close it out, and it’s always nice to win a title, that’s for sure.”

Stosur’s wildcard success leaves her full of confidence heading to Paris, where she opens her campaign against American Madison Brengle on Monday.

The 31-year-old had failed to reach a quarter-final in ten previous attempts in 2015.

But in just her third event since reuniting with former coach David Taylor, Stosur peeled off four straight wins in Strasbourg, including a straight-sets rout of defending champion Monica Puig in the opening round.

“It was a last-minute decision to come here, so to play as well as I did and walk away with the title, it’s exciting and especially going into a grand slam,” she said.

“It’s been a really good week for me in Strasbourg.”

The former US Open champion now has seven WTA titles to her name – two on clay.

She collected her only other claycourt trophy at the Premier-level event in Charleston in 2010.

That year she made it all the way to her first grand slam final at Roland Garros.


Eurovision votes cast and counted, the winner is [redacted]

The Eurovision votes have been cast and counted for Australia’s first appearance in the European song contest.

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Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw won the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna on Sunday, beating Russia and Italy in the big international talent show which will be held in his home country next year.

The 28-year-old singer and TV presenter performed the winning electro-pop ballad Heroes, dancing in front of a black screen with animated gnomes.

Sweden last won the 60-year-old competition in 2012.

Australia’s Eurovision entrant Guy Sebastian impressed the crowd at the 2015 European song contest in Vienna, and voting television audiences around the world, coming in fifth in the competition.

OMG so emotional. #AUS announcer was @SBS’s Lee Lin Chin, our most famous+fashionable news presenter #Eurovision pic.twitter深圳桑拿,/fh66SCN4Fp

— Lucky Tran (@luckytran) May 23, 2015

Australians had their first opportunity to cast their votes, with SBS Presenter Lee Lin Chin announcing Australia’s votes.

Australia voted eight points to Italy, 10 to Russia and 12 to Sweden.

Sydney by [at]chellemaree88 I’m sorry #eurovision but #australia was really the best #sorrynotsorry #esc #aus pic.twitter深圳桑拿,/MOFI96WUVT

— world instagram (@Instasiun) May 23, 2015

Sebastian’s fifth means he won’t be knighted by Tony Abbott and the prime minister won’t have to declare a public holiday on Monday – as some suggested should occur if he somehow stole the title.

But the former Idol winner and X Factor judge always had more realistic ambitions, insisting he simply wanted to avoid the embarrassment of finishing last.

Sebastian received a top-three placing (either 12, 10 or eight votes) from Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin called in Australia’s votes noting the newcomer was “very excited” to be appearing for the first time.

Australia’s professional jury and voting public gave top points to Sweden followed by Russia and Italy meaning Australia called the contest exactly right.

Watch SBS Europe correspondent Brett Mason’s interview with Måns Zelmerlöw ahead of the semi-finals

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Earlier in the night, the crowd gave Sebastian a rapturous round of applause after he belted out his catchy pop tune Tonight Again which he wrote and recorded in just 72 hours.

The South Australian, who was selected by SBS to represent Australia, busted out some dazzling dance moves on stage alongside his four backing singers.

In the media centre a phalanx of photographers took pictures of Australian superfans who got to their feet and danced too.

Some 1000-odd journalists, bloggers and accredited fans from around the world sang along with Tonight Again and went a little bit crazy while watching Sebastian on big screens.

The 33-year-old performed 12th of the 27 entrants in the grand final.

He came two spots after Zelmerlow who dominated with a cool song called Heroes and even cooler on-stage graphics.

The Swede, like Sebastian a professional artist, received a huge cheer from the 11,000 fans packed into the arena when it became clear he’d won.

“I just want to say we are all heroes no matter who we are and what we believe in we are all heroes,” Zelmerlow, 28, said on stage.

GOODNIGHT EUROPE /GOOD MORNING AUSTRALIA #eurovision

— Silke Ricour (@silkericour) May 23, 2015’The haters should take a good look at themselves’

Listen to SBS Reporter Biwa Kwan speak with Australian Eurovision fan Biwa Bhattacharya who is in Austria for Eurovision.

Head to SBS Eurovision for all the latest Eurovision news, videos and party tips.

Watch Grand Final Sunday 24 May 7:30pm on SBS ONE

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Blues crisis rolls on in AFL

The pressure continues to build at embattled Carlton, with coach Mick Malthouse clearly at odds with the club’s administration and their AFL team in freefall.

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There was speculation about a Sunday meeting between Blues president Mark LoGuidice and chief executive Steven Trigg, which Carlton denied.

But Malthouse’s future at the club appears increasingly tenuous.

Carlton have another high-profile Friday night match this week and Sydney at the SCG is an ominous assignment for the league’s bottom team.

They have had four-straight losses on the field and growing turmoil off it.

Last Thursday, Malthouse broke ranks when he said comments from the Carlton hierarchy about rebuilding was a big mental hurdle for the players to overcome.

Trigg then went on radio before Friday night’s 77-point loss against Geelong and on TV after the game to say Malthouse’s comment had surprised him.

Trigg also dropped a bombshell pre-game, saying their disastrous season could worsen to the point where Malthouse would not see out the season.

He later moved to water that down.

After speaking to Trigg and other Carlton officials, Malthouse said post-game that he and the Blues hierarchy were on the same page.

But Malthouse also said it is not in his DNA to quit.

On Sunday morning, two-time reigning premiership coach Alastair Clarkson said the Carlton crisis was unpleasant.

“The thing we want to see with all our football clubs is that there’s some sort of stability and continuity,” Clarkson told the ABC’s Offsiders program.

“Even as an opposition … you don’t like seeing clubs go through (this).

“It’s not good for the competition, in a sense – the mid-season turmoil in particular.

“It disrupts other clubs, it disrupts the competition (and) you just hope something could be sorted out.

“It’s a real toxic and difficult environment.”

Blues assistant John Barker appears the most likely candidate to be interim senior coach should Carlton sack Malthouse.

And Sydney assistant Stuart Dew is emerging as a prime candidate for his first senior role.

“He sees the game extremely well, Stuart Dew,” former Swans star Jude Bolton told Channel Seven.

“It’s a modern-day game and he’d be the next coach in line.”

Star Swans midfielder Josh Kennedy said they would miss Dew if he went to another club.

“That’s the first I heard of it this morning, that he could be up for the job,” Kennedy said.

“Obviously I’d love him to continue on his career and be a great head coach, as I think he would be.

“But we’d definitely miss him at the Swans, because he’s a great part of the coaching group.

“Whatever role he takes, he’ll be pretty successful.”


Bombers power away from Brisbane in AFL

Joe Daniher kicked a career-best six goals in a slick second-half display by Essendon that propelled them to a convincing 58-point win against Brisbane on Sunday.

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After a tight first half in which the lead changed hands eight times, the Bombers found another gear and powered away to the 21.10 (136) to 12.6 (78) win.

James Hird’s side have copped some criticism for at times playing a slower, defensive game and their willingness to play on and move the ball quickly with the roof open at Etihad Stadium allowed them to kick their highest score since round three last season.

Daniher has shown glimpses of his abundant talent in the past, but in the 34th game of his career he was able to put that talent on show for more sustained periods.

He provided a strong presence in attack where he took eight marks – five of them contested – and could have finished with eight goals with slightly better conversion from set shots.

“There’s been a lot of analysis about Joe’s performances but he’s a young player and to kick six goals is terrific,” Hird said.

“I think Joe can be anything with a bit of luck … he has exceptional talent and if he continues to work hard and do what he’s been doing with his work rate he’ll be an outstanding player for a long, long time.

“You’ve got to remember that he’s a 34-game player, he’s a 21-year-old and he’s been in the system three years – he’s got a lot to learn and (big guys) take a bit longer.

“(But) if he can keep putting up performances like that week in and week out he could be anything.”

Daniher was well-supported by Paul Chapman and Adam Cooney, who finished with three goals and was involved in four others.

Both veterans were playing their first games back from injury absences, but the match didn’t end well for Chapman who limped to the bench clutching his right hamstring in the last quarter and did not return.

However, Hird reported he had copped a knock to the muscle rather than sustained a tear or strain and is in line to play next week.

The final margin looked unlikely early as the Lions took the game right up to the hosts.

Tom Rockliff was important with 18 possessions in the first half, while Josh Green kicked three goals as Brisbane trailed by just five points at halftime.

But the Bombers made their move in the third quarter, kicking seven goals to two, with the Lions managing just four goals in the second half.

Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker impressed in the back half for the Bombers and Brent Stanton (25 disposals) and Ben Howlett (25) were also influential.

Rockliff finished with 27 possessions for Brisbane, with Marco Paparrone (22), Dayne Beams (20) and Stefan Martin (18 touches and 27 hitouts) also important.

“The third quarter obviously was the biggest problem of the game from our perspective,” Lions coach Justin Leppitsch said.

“We gave up 11 shots from 14 entries and I think in a nutshell our young defenders just got beaten really.

“They out-marked us or we gave away free kicks. I think there were six free kicks against in our defensive 50 today, so they were under a lot of pressure.”


Marsh ready to launch in Test arena

Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh ripped England apart with the ball in the World Cup and now he wants to do the same at Test level.

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The West Australian took 5-33 to get Australia’s World Cup campaign off to a winning start against the Old Enemy in Melbourne in February.

It was that display which showed to many the potential Marsh has as an effective middle-order batsman and genuine bowling option.

Sadly Marsh’s Test career with the ball hasn’t quite been as dynamic.

The 23-year-old, who’ll line up alongside brother Shaun in Australia’s team for a three-day tour match against a West Indies President’s XI in Antigua from Wednesday, has just one wicket from his four Test appearances.

A lifeless Dubai pitch on debut against Pakistan surely didn’t help but Marsh is viewing a two-Test tour in the Caribbean as the perfect opportunity to turn around his bowling record in the long format.

“Dubai was a tough initiation, I won’t lie to you,” Marsh said.

“My bowling is something that I’m just trying to improve on.

“As I get older and stronger hopefully I’ll add a few k’s and I’m really working hard with Craig McDermott every session to try and improve. I’m sure in the next six months I’ll be able to put some wickets on the board.”

If Marsh can regain his Test spot for the opening match against the West Indies in Dominica on June 3 it’ll be a great opportunity to show what he can do with the ball.

Australia are largely expected to pick legspinner Fawad Ahmed to make his Test debut alongside regular spin option Nathan Lyon on a wicket in Roseau which normally turns.

That’ll mean Marsh’s role as all-rounder will see him pick up the slack as a third seamer, and it’s a challenge he’s excited about.

“If the wickets do spin as predicted I think they’ll definitely play two spinners,” Marsh said.

“That’ll give us all-rounders a chance to chip in with the ball and obviously having the chance to play with Shane Watson and learn as much as I can in these conditions, I’m looking forward to that.”

If Marsh can find some some success with the ball against the Windies, it’ll set him well on the path to a possible chance to repeat his England demolition in the subsequent Ashes tour.

After his run in the Test team was halted by a hamstring injury, Marsh used his time after the World Cup to prepare his body for several months on the road in the hopes of cementing a Test berth.

“My body’s feeling really good at the moment so I’m in a great position to be able to launch hopefully in the Test arena,” he said.

“That’s a goal of mine, certainly, to nail down that No.6 spot.

“I love every opportunity of playing for my country and I enjoy it. This team’s so fun to play in.

“Every Test match that I get is something that I cherish and hopefully I can contribute to a winning Test match team.”

MITCHELL MARSH’S MODEST TEST BOWLING RECORD

Matches: 4

Overs: 61

Maidens: 14

Runs: 164

Wickets: 1

Average: 164

Best bowling: 1-14 vs India, Brisbane 2014