BRISBANE, Australia (AP): Milos Raonic got one back on Roger Federer to start the new season. After losing coach Ivan Ljubicic to the Federer camp leading into 2016, Raonic achieved something nobody else born in the 1990s has managed to do against the 17-time major winner – beat him twice. The 25-year-old Canadian broke Federer’s serve once in each set of a 6-4, 6-4 win yesterday in the Brisbane International decider, reversing the outcome of their meeting in last year’s final at the Australian Open warm-up tournament. Ljubicic was in Federer’s corner for the final. Carlos Moya, who will join Raonic’s coaching crew, doesn’t arrive in Australia until next week. He’s got a good base to work off, starting with Raonic’s eighth career title and only his second win in 11 matches against Federer. It was a boost coming off a troubled end to 2015, when Raonic missed the last three weeks with a back problem, having missed the French Open earlier in the season with a foot injury, parted company with Ljubicic and finished out of the top 10. “It does great things – it signifies within the team how concrete and good the work we’re doing is,” Raonic said of his win. “At the same time, with the difficulties I’ve had last year, it’s maybe a good way for me to show the other guys I will face going in Melbourne, you know, I’ve got my stuff back together and I can play some good tennis again.” Raonic attacked top-seeded Federer with his booming serve and forehand, as expected, but also went to the net 13 times in the first set and won 10 of those points to put him on course for the win. Federer, who went 6-5 in finals in 2015 – with all five losses coming to top-ranked Novak Djokovic – struggled earlier in the week with lingering flu-like symptoms, but improved with four matches in four days, including wins over Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals and Dominic Thiem in the semis. Raonic “did well. It was a tough match – (my) legs were a little bit wobbly,” Federer said. “Still, considering the week I’ve had, I’m actually quite happy. That’s why I’m not down or anything or disappointed. “If I would’ve known I would’ve made the finals five days ago I would’ve been unbelievably happy.” BIG BOOST
Three jockeys sustained injuries and had to be rushed to hospital in two separate races, the sixth and seventh, respectively, at Caymanas Park yesterday.Coming out worst was three-time champion Dane Nelson, whose mount, MONTEGONIAN, stumbled and fell approaching the furlong pole in the sixth race over 1300 metres, decking the popular jockey. In the ensuing melee, STRAIGHTFROMUHEART was brought down, throwing jockey Richard Mitchell as well. The horse also stepped on Nelson, who lay motionless on the ground for a while before he was rushed to the First Aid Post in the track ambulance.Nelson regained consciousness shortly after, but was then fitted with a neck brace by the paramedics and taken to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) for treatment and further observation.Mitchell, on the other hand, escaped injury, but did not ride for the remainder of the day.In the very next race over 1500 metres, won by 7-2 chance DREAMCOMETRUE, both DINNER BY SEVEN and STIR IT UP dislodged their respective riders, Paul ‘Country’ Francis and the veteran Vassell ‘Jollyman’ Najair in the backstretch.Francis is suspected to have fractured his collar bone, while the 62-year-old Najair was badly shaken up and received an injury to his face. Both were taken to the UHWI for observation.SEVERAL SPILLSAlthough there have been several spills on racedays at Caymanas, only one has claimed the life of a jockey in 56 years of racing at the track. This occurred on November 20, 1999, when popular lightweight jockey, Al Gopie, was thrown by his mount, SAGAR, at the half mile and was trampled by horses in the day’s penultimate race.Meanwhile, firm favourites ROYAL ASSAULT and ETERNAL JOY led from start to finish to win the co-feature races on the card.Ridden by champion jockey Shane Ellis for trainer Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes, the much-improved 4-y-o colt, ROYAL ASSAULT, romped the overnight allowance sprint as the 3-5 favourite. And 30 minutes later, the Neive Graham-trained ETERNAL JOY, a 2-1 favourite, with apprentice Linton Steadman replacing the injured Paul Francis, did likewise in the closing race over 1200 metres for the Colin Melhado Memorial Cup (claiming $250,000-$210,000).
LONDON (AP):The IOC advised national Olympic committees yesterday to follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidance on dealing with the Zika virus ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, asserting its confidence that the games will be safe.Brazil has been hit hard by the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects in infants, raising concerns about the outbreak’s potential impact on South America’s first Olympics in August.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent a note to all national Olympic committees outlining the latest medical advice concerning the Zika virus, the most recent problem for a country already dealing with a severe economic crisis and a sprawling corruption scandal.”All parties are taking action to address this topic, and are following developments closely,” the IOC said.The two-page note from the IOC medical commission repeated advice for travellers to take precautions against mosquito bites and for women who are planning to become pregnant to assess the potential risks of travelling to areas infected with the virus.”The IOC remains in close contact with the WHO to ensure that we have access to the most up-to-date information and guidance, from now through to Games time,” the IOC statement said. “At the same time NOCs should consult with their national health authorities to get advice and guidance.”The IOC did not say the Olympics were threatened in any way and made it clear that it expects the Aug. 5-21 games to be secure for athletes and visitors.”We remain confident that there will be a safe environment for successful and enjoyable games in Rio de Janeiro,” the statement concluded.