Australian News

Alex de Minaur wins Antalya Open in Turkey, Bernard Tomic qualifies for Australian Open

CAlex de Minaur has opened his 2021 season in style, claiming the first ATP title on offer for the year and his fourth overall, with success at the Antalya Open in Turkey.

The Australian number one was leading Alexander Bublik 2-0 in Wednesday’s final when the Kazakh retired injured just seven minutes into the match.

The 21-year-old world number 23 dropped only one set for the week in a promising build-up to next month’s rescheduled Australian Open in Melbourne.

“I mean, it’s massive. At the start of the year that’s what you need,” de Minaur said after following up his semi-final win over second-seeded world number 16 David Goffin in a somewhat anticlimactic title decider.

“I just think I gave myself the best possible chance to go deep into this tournament and I’m happy how it finished.

“I got four matches — and today — so very happy with my level and I had some quality wins.”

Nick Kyrgios lifts up Alex De Minaur in celebration.
Alex De Minaur and Nick Kyrgios were quite the tandem early in 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.(AAP: Mark Evans)

De Minaur missed his home grand slam last year in shattering fashion, an abdominal strain forcing him out of the tournament following a heroic ATP Cup campaign for Australia.

“It was a bittersweet moment last year so hopefully a year later I can come back stronger and hopefully have a great Aussie summer,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to going back home and playing in front of a home crowd, that’s for sure.”

His stomach injury aside, the COVID-19 pandemic further stalled his progression last year, following a breakout three-title season in 2019.

But the fleet-footed baseliner, now the youngest player in the world’s top 25, came back with a vengeance when the tour resumed.

De Minaur made a career-best charge to the US Open quarter-finals in 2020, upstaging a succession of heavy hitters en route to the last eight, then reached the final in Antwerp to finish ahead of Nick Kyrgios as Australia’s top-ranked player in 2020.

Kyrgios himself barely played any matches once the world was plunged into a pandemic, preferring to stay in Canberra and train.

Tomic qualifies for Australian Open after he ‘risked his life’

One year after reaching a career low point when he failed to qualify for the Australian Open, former world number 17 Bernard Tomic has punched his ticket to the delayed first grand slam of the year.

Tomic, who still appeared to be nowhere near the level of play fans saw early on in his career, battled past Australian veteran John-Patrick Smith 6-4 5-7 7-6 (10-7) to become the only Australian to make it through qualifying.

While Tomic won the match, it was an uphill battle as Smith frequently attacked the net and kept Tomic moving around the court, employing drop shots and low balls, showing Tomic’s much maligned movement had not improved.

What had improved was the 28-year-old’s resolve to win.

He admitted post match that he was “physically pretty bad”, but he was dogged on the court.

Tomic fought back from 4-1 down in the opening set to reel off six straight games and take it.

He also fought back from 3-0 down in the second set before Smith steadied and broke Tomic to take it 7-5 and send the match into a decider.

That set was extremely tight with neither player breaking serve, and it was Smith who cracked ever so slightly as two tight line calls went against him late in the third set to send it into a match tiebreak.

“No, that was not wide … two times in two games,” he complained to the umpire to no avail.

Tomic raced out to an early 3-0 lead in the match tiebreak and despite Smith getting it back to 4-4, Tomic was never headed and a couple of aces were punctuated by a searing forehand winner to take the match.

Tomic also showed he had plenty of fight left in him off the court as he took aim at his critics.

“I am in Doha, I risked my life flying here, my health, COVID’s around, many sick, with many things that can go wrong. I’m risking my life, and I’m playing and competing. Of course, I want to get there,” he said, when asked if his tennis ambitions still burned.

He followed that up by demanding favourable media coverage.

“You’re the people who write the bad stuff about me,” Tomic said.

“I don’t think you guys have been fair towards me in the last half-decade, [or] decade. You can spin it whatever way you want, but don’t escape the fact I’ve qualified for a slam.”

“If you like me and you’re a fan of me, write nice.”


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Australian News

Bernard Fanning, Matt Corby: Greatest Southern Nights review

Sydney has woken from its slumber when it comes to arena-sized gigs, and you can’t wipe the smile off our faces.

There was a palpable sense of joy on Saturday night when Bernard Fanning headlined the second of two shows at Qudos Bank Arena dubbed Greatest Southern Nights, the biggest indoor events held in Australia since March, designed to kickstart the ailing live music industry after coronavirus wiped it out for months.

NSW indie pop act Merci, Mercy kicked off proceedings before Matt Corby took to the stage in his bare feet to remind Sydneysiders just how captivating live music can be in an arena setting.

Backed by a tight, festival-hardened band and colourful visuals, the crowd couldn’t take their eyes off the singer-songwriter, who’s grown from Australian Idol pin-up to Triple J favourite.

Corby’s songs – including crowd favourites Brother, Resolution and Miracle Love – start subdued but inevitably build to cathartic heights on the back of his soaring vocals.

Former Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning was in cheeky spirits for his slot, referencing Footloose on account of the one-third-full room being unable to stand up and dance, due to strict COVID-19 protocols.

Backed by his band The Black Fins, Fanning’s set leant into the dad rock vibes of his solo work.

The crowd eagerly clapped along to his superb tune Songbird, from his most successful album Tea and Sympathy, and was stunned into silence by the stirring four-part harmonies of Departures (Blue Toowong Skies).

The performance was less successful when Fanning allowed his band to wander into extended jams – including some random tributes to Black Sabbath, David Bowie and Fats Domino.

Fanning was at his best when he stripped away the adornments and let his song craft shine. His voice remains distinct and powerful, best complemented by a lone acoustic guitar or piano.

Despite carving out a successful solo career, Fanning still threw a bone to Powderfinger devotees, with a stripped-back take on the band’s hit Sunsets from Vulture Street.

The highlight of the set, however, was his version of Powderfinger’s signature tune These Days, whose lyrics have taken on extra meaning during an uncertain 2020.

His performance was enough to make the crowd jump out of their seats at the end of the set, in defiance of COVID rules.

“What are you doing standing up? Punks. Dirty punks,” Fanning quipped in response.

While the punters were stuck to their seats and socially distanced for much of the night, the rousing performances were enough to reawaken the hunger for live music and a sense of community – something Australia desperately needs as this challenging year draws to a close.

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