Firstly to the Asian Football Cup, where Australia got their campaign underway with an impressive 4-1 win over Kuwait in the tournaments opening game. While the end result was impressive Australia were nervy in the opening exchanges and when Kuwait struck from a corner early on a huge upset was on the cards. But Australia continued to press and was duly rewarded. The scorer of the first was no surprise with Tim Cahill capitalising on some good work down the right from Massimo Luongo. Luongo, who was later awarded the man of the match award, scored a delicious headed goal just before half time to put Australia ahead. Mile Jedinak and James Troisi rounded out the win for the Socceroos who, were it not for the frame of the goal could have been even more convincing victors. Australia kept possession well and looked increasingly dangerous in front of goal. However if they are to meet expectations and become Asian Champions there is plenty of work to do – they looked particularly susceptible at the back when Kuwait countered and must improve their defending from set pieces. Elsewhere there were wins for the Korea Republic, Uzbekistan, China, Iran and the UAE.

In Buninyong at the Australian Road National Cycling Championships there were road race national titles for Heinrich Haussler and Peta Mullens. The men’s race was dominated by the big names covering one-another and Haussler benefited from not being marked as heavily. He joined a strong group of 16 riders in a mid-race breakaway and despite being dropped on the final ascent of Mount Buninyong managed to regain contact with the front group on the descent and take the win over Orica Greenedge neo-pro Caleb Ewan. The final ascent of Mount Buninyong was a cagey affair, with the riders playing a dramatic game of cat and mouse. Darren Lapthorne, the 2007 champion, tried a number of attacks but they were all in vain and the efforts of his Drapac team amounted to nothing. Ewan, more renowned for his sprinting prowess, was the first to crest the hill after attacking on his own but a group of six quickly formed on the decent including Ewan. Other members of the group will be left to rue not racing harder after dropping Haussler but nobody wanted to take Ewan to the finish knowing they were no match for him. In the end Haussler was able to claw his way back to the main group and outsprinted Ewan. Ewan was the big winner of the day and showed his enormous potential. It is hard to imagine he will have to wait long to go one better.

For big names Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and Michael Rogers it was a disappointing race. All were heavily marked and never appeared at the head of the race. They left themselves with too much to do and with two laps to go it was apparent that none of them would feature in the finish. Haussler, who raced under a German passport until 2010, has had a number of injuries and operations in the last few years and the relief and emotion of the win was there for all to see.

In the women’s race there was also an upset as Peta Mullens outsprinted Rachel Neylan in a two up sprint. The two went clear on the penultimate lap and held off the chasers by 22 seconds. Mullens had said before the race that it would be her only road race of the year as she shifts her focus to mountain bikes and the Olympics in Rio. Whether that will change no we will have to wait and see.

The third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race is now well underway. This leg sees the six remaining teams travelling from Abu Dhabi in the UAE to the port of Sanya, China. Dongfeng Racing Team has a 16 nautical mile lead over Team Brunel, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing currently running third. These three have dominated the first two legs and while they lead again the chasers are much closer this time around. Team SCA are currently in sixth, 56 nautical miles off the pace, but the distances are a bit misleading as the boats take different lines across the Arabian Sea on their approach to India and Sri Lanka. As they converge and skirt Sri Lanka it is likely that the distances will be much less. After rounding Sri Lanka the race will cross the Bay of Bengal before tackling the Malacca Straight, which divides Malaysia.

And finally to tennis, where Roger Federer had a weekend to remember in Brisbane. Federer had looked very sketchy earlier in the week but was back to his dominant best as he annihilated James Duckworth in a quarter-final and then Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-final with neither match lasting more than an hour. In the final he faced off against Milos Raonic and it was a much tighter affair. Federer ultimately prevailed 6-4 6-7 6-4 for another title (his 83rd) and his 1000th career win. He becomes the third man to reach such a landmark, behind the legendary Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.

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Comments
  1. Really enjoying the Volvo Ocean Race. Must be a fascinating job. And beautiful photos too.
    Also loving the tennis. Can Mr. Ussion please explain FAST4 tennis?

    Like

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