Barty wins first round in Wuhan tennis

Ashleigh Barty has set up a second round clash with world No.

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7 Johanna Konta after a straight sets win in the opening round of the Wuhan Open.

After a tight first set against American Catherine Bells, Barty steamrolled her way through the second to win 7-5 6-0.

Konta, who had a first round bye, enjoyed a win over Barty in their only clash, in the quarter finals of Nottingham earlier this year.

In a breakout year Barty has risen to No.37 in the world, from 271 at the start of 2017.

A few more wins this year should ensure she breaks into the top 32, enabling her to avoid playing seeds in the first two rounds of grand slam tournaments.

Meanwhile Katerina Siniakova beat a top-20 player for the sixth time this year when she ousted Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-3 6-2.

The Czech, who has two singles titles already this year, deepened the hole occupied by Mladenovic, who lost an eighth consecutive match, all to players ranked outside the WTA top 25.

Ekaterina Makarova of Russia won nine games in a row from 4-1 down en route to beating Anastasija Sevastova 6-4 6-2.

Also, Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine defeated Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3 7-6 (10-8) to line up world No.1 Garbine Muguruza in the next round.

Muguruza, second-seeded Simona Halep and the other top six seeds received byes into the second round.

Sloane Stephens will take on Wang Qiang of China in the first round in her first competitive match since winning the US Open.

Stephens, seeded 14th in Wuhan, arrived on Friday and is expected to play her opening match on Monday. Madison Keys, who lost to Stephens in the all-American final in New York, will face qualifier Varvara Lepchenko in her opener.

Australia set India 294 for ODI victory

An Aaron Finch century hasn’t been enough to lift Australia past 300 in their do-or-die one-day international against India in Indore.

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Australia finished with 6-293 which the hosts will be confident of chasing down given the short boundaries and favourable batting conditions at Holkar Stadium on Sunday.

Finch, who missed the first two matches of the five-game series with a calf injury, smashed 17 boundaries including five sixes in his knock of 124 off 125 balls.

Australia must win to keep the series alive after slumping to 2-0 down with losses in Chennai and Kolkata.

With Finch and skipper Steve Smith at the crease Australia looked destined for a massive total.

But following their 174-run stand, the Australians stalled with tight Indian bowling restricting them to three boundaries in the final 11 overs.

Australia started strongly with Finch and Warner combining for a 70-run opening partnership.

But a Hardik Pandya off-cutter skidded through Warner’s defences and clipped the top of off stump with the Australian vice-captain on 42.

Smith was furious with himself after getting out caught at long-off from the final ball of Kuldeep Yadav’s ninth over for 63 off 71 balls, his second consecutive ODI half-century.

Glenn Maxwell (five) was promoted to No.4 in the batting order but failed to fire a shot, out stumped to Yuzvendra Chahal the ball after Smith was dismissed.

Travis Head (four) had his middle stumped knocked out of the ground by a Jasprit Bumrah slower ball as Australia lost 5-51 in the space of 10 overs.

That brought Peter Handscomb to the crease but he and Marcus Stoinis struggled to launch a meaningful assault on the bowlers in the death overs.

Marcus Stoinis finished with an unbeaten 27 off 28 balls but struggled to find the boundary when Australia needed it most.

Handscomb was out for three to an outstanding bit of fielding from Manish Pandey off the bowling of Bumrah (2-52).

Pandey took the catch at long-off as he was falling over the rope, threw the ball in the air and jumped back into the field of play to grab it on the second attempt.

Handscomb will take as wicketkeeper when Australia bowl following Matthew Wade’s axing.

Germany votes, history beckons for Merkel

Polling stations have opened across Germany in an election that is likely to see Chancellor Angela Merkel win a historic fourth term and a far-right party enter parliament for the first time in more than half a century.

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Some 61.5 million people are eligible to cast their ballots in the election in which Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) are expected to post a commanding lead over their centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) rivals.

Merkel’s conservative bloc is on track to remain the largest group in parliament, opinion polls indicated, but a fracturing of the political landscape may well make it harder for her to form a ruling coalition than previously.

With as many as a third of Germans undecided in the run-up to the election, Merkel and her main rival, centre-left challenger Martin Schulz of the Social Democrats (SPD), urged them to get out and vote.

“We want to boost your motivation so that we can still reach many, many people,” the chancellor, 63, said in Berlin on Saturday before heading north to her constituency for a final round of campaigning.

In regional votes last year, Merkel’s conservatives suffered setbacks to the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which profited from resentment at her 2015 decision to leave German borders open to over one million migrants.

Those setbacks made Merkel, a pastor’s daughter who grew up in Communist East Germany, wonder if she should even run for re-election.

But with the migrant issue under control this year, she has bounced back and thrown herself into a punishing campaign schedule, presenting herself as an anchor of stability in an uncertain world.

Visibly happier, Merkel campaigned with renewed conviction: a resolve to retool the economy for the digital age, to head off future migrant crises, and to defend a Western order shaken by Donald Trump’s US election victory last November.

Both Merkel and Schulz worry that a low turnout could work in favour of smaller parties, especially the AfD. On Friday, Schulz described the AfD as “gravediggers of democracy”.

An INSA poll published by Bild newspaper on Saturday suggested that support was slipping for Merkel’s conservatives, who dropped two percentage points to 34 per cent, and the SPD, down one point to 21 per cent – both now joined in an unwieldy “grand coalition”.

The anti-immigrant AfD rose two points to 13 per cent, putting it on course to be the third-largest party.

Should she win a fourth term, Merkel will join the late Helmut Kohl, her mentor who reunified Germany, and Konrad Adenauer, who led Germany’s rebirth after World War II, as the only post-war chancellors to win four national elections.

The AfD’s expected entry into the national parliament is likely to herald an era of more robust debate in German politics – a departure from the steady, consensus-based approach that has marked the post-war period.

Too many X-rays done on kids, experts warn

Concerns have been raised too many unnecessary X-rays are being used on infants with common respiratory conditions like bronchiolitis and asthma.

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Medical experts are calling for a re-think of the procedure’s use in children as part of the latest recommendations of the Choosing Wisely initiative launched on Monday by NPS MedicineWise.

Emergency department physician Dr Sarah Dalton, RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division President, says in some cases X-rays are happening “too frequently”, placing the child at harm.

“Unfortunately what we see is that so many of these children that come in to emergency departments with breathing problems and are having chest X-rays that doesn’t really change the treatment that we offer but it does put them at risk of the radiation that is associated with the X-ray and that is what we are trying to stop,” Dr Dalton told AAP.

Dr Dalton said very rarely does an X-ray change the treatment of a child with typical bronchiolitis – a common condition in babies where they get a virus that makes it hard to breathe.

An X-ray should always be ordered if a doctor suspects pneumonia, a complication of bronchiolitis, she said.

“But there really is only a very small number of children who when I listen to their chest I think they do need a chest X-ray, in most situations when we examine children with this kind of problem there is no indication of it being pneumonia and therefore they don’t really need the X-ray,” Dr Dalton told AAP.

“One of the studies showed that if you do 100 X-rays for children with bronchiolitis it will only change the treatment course for one child.”

Dr Dalton is calling on her fellow doctors to “pause for a second” before recommending an X-ray.

“The challenge is working out when they’re needed and when they’re not,” she said.

“For any parents who might be concerned about the idea that ‘less can sometimes be more’, I would say to them we want to make sure we are only ordering a test when it is medically beneficial for your child.”

The initiative is also advising against the use of X-rays for lower back pain in adults.

Another important focus of the newly-released Choosing Wisely recommendations is getting people back to work and doctors have asked not to certify a patient as totally unfit for work unless clinically necessary.

“Where appropriate we are encouraging willing patients to continue working in some capacity as part of their overall healthcare management,” said Associate Professor Peter Connaughton, President of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Doctors have also been warned about prescribing opioids for the treatment of acute or chronic pain.

Hill runs prep Wallabies for the Highveld

The old-school fitness camp the Wallabies suffered through is set to pay huge dividends as they return to South Africa’s Highveld, assistant coach Mick Byrne says.

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Australia’s record at altitude against the Springboks is dismal, having won a total of just three times in Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Pretoria – and only once in the last 54 years.

Coach Michael Cheika has suggested it is a purely mental roadblock that his players must overcome.

But they have also done the hard yards to ensure they can meet the physical demands of the challenge as well.

Cheika smashed his players with cardio in June and then again in the lead-up to Australia’s Rugby Championship opener last month, sending them on hill runs in Newcastle with their mouths taped shut as he pushed them past the point of exhaustion.

Former AFL ruckman Byrne said it will all come in handy when crunch time arrives during their clash with the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning (AEST).

“I know (strength and conditioning) coaches will have a crack at me but it isn’t rocket science,” Byrne said.

“They talk about it being science but I didn’t have a lot of sports science around me when I played and we were able to get fit. It’s about hard work.

“Getting a good base of work, which we did in that August window, has set us up for the year really well.

“It’s going to be a help every week, but I guess if you’re looking for more oxygen and you’re not fit, you’re in trouble. If you’re fit you’ll be OK.

“We’re still not there, we’ve still got work to do but what we did in that window and how hard the players worked, we’ve seen some good results.”

Byrne acknowledged that the challenges of playing 1500m above sea level cannot be dismissed or simply talked down as something that both teams have to deal with.

“Obviously, you can’t hide away from the fact that altitude’s a different atmosphere,” he said.

“But I think the players adapt to it pretty quickly.

“The worst thing you can do is talk about it, so you just get on with it.

“We’ve put plans in place, we’ve come here, started our sessions this morning and just get on with our week.”