WTA Finals Singapore 2016: Angelique Kerber beats Simona Halep to remain undefeated

Singapore: In a year of firsts for Angelique Kerber, the prospect of one last success remains. While her place in the semi-finals of the WTA Finals is not quite assured, Tuesday’s 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Simona Halep has enhanced the top seed’s chances significantly.
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On the night the oldest ever year-end No.1 was presented with the diamond-studded trophy, as well as a sparkling Tiffany ring to go with her Australian and US Open silverware, Wimbledon runners-up plate and Rio Olympic medal after an exceptional season’s work, Kerber remained unbeaten in a tournament where she has three times previously failed to progress from the group stage.

Madison Keys’ 6-1, 6-4 overpowering of Dominika Cibulkova in the other Red Group match meant that Kerber’s name has not yet been inked into the last four, but the player who failed to win the one set she needed against Lucie Safarova to qualify for the knockout phase in 2015 is – 12 months later – far more formidable and assured.

“Of course I have much more confidence right now because I know how to win very big matches, tight matches. I know what to do to go for it and just take the game in my hands,” Kerber said after her 82-minute win over third-seeded Halep.

“Of course I believe much more in my game and in myself than 12 months ago, especially after Singapore one year ago. I won so many good matches this year. I won two grand slams … that’s why I believe much more in myself right now.”

Primed by her lengthy three-setter against Cibulkova on the opening night, the 28-year-old won a close first set against Halep, but secured an early double-break in the second, the Romanian’s misfiring forehand a big contributor to a mismatched error count of 35 to 16. Kerber also converted four of five break points compared with Halep’s one from six.

“I think I had the opportunity to get that first set. I was coming back very well, but maybe I didn’t finish the important points and I missed a lot today,” said Halep, who meets Cibulkova on Thursday. “But she played a great tennis. She’s very strong and on her legs she’s moving great. Yeah, she deserve to win. I take it and I’m looking forward to continue this tournament.”

Halep is now equal on one win with Keys, whom she outplayed 6-2, 6-4 on the opening night. “Totally different match,” said Halep. “Keys is hitting very strong; Kerber is not hitting – she’s pushing the balls, but she doesn’t miss. I played worse with my forehand, I missed a lot – I think there was the key.”

Debutante Keys is guaranteed to advance to the semi-finals if she beats Kerber in straight sets; Kerber can only miss out if that occurs and Halep also wins in two. For Cibulkova, it is still possible, but unlikely.

“She’s always tough to play; even tougher to play on a slower court,” Keys said of Kerber, her conqueror in Rio. “I think going out there and looking at what I’ve done well against her before and what I haven’t done well could definitely help me. I think also playing with nothing to lose is going to be a huge thing.”

Meanwhile, Svetlana Kuznetsova’s bizarre DIY hair-chop episode remained a talking point, Keys admitting she had never seen anything like it. “I don’t know what she was doing. I was just wondering what was bothering her so much,” the American said.

“She cut a lot off. Clearly it wasn’t going into her face anymore. That was shocking. I will never be doing that. Ever. Good for her for giving herself a haircut.”

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Bid to drive down ethanol petrol prices dealt a blow

Blow to plans: Innovation Minister Victor Dominello. Photo: Orlando Chiodo Plans to reduce the cost of E10 petrol to give motorists a cheaper alternative to regular unleaded have been dealt a blow after the independent regulator proposed a higher than expected recommended maximum wholesale price for ethanol.
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In December, Innovation Minister Victor Dominello announced changes designed to “put downward pressure” on the price of E10, which is a blend of regular unleaded and up to 10 per cent ethanol.

They included requiring a wider range of petrol stations to sell E10, establishing an online fuel price board and asking the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to regulate the wholesale price of ethanol.

Regulating the wholesale price was designed to deliver a significant price difference between E10 and regular unleaded to improve competition.

But in a draft determination on Tuesday, IPART announced a recommended maximum wholesale price of $1.35 a litre, significantly higher than the current 60-80¢.

IPART chairman Peter Boxall said the price was “unlikely to affect the price of E10 at the pump”.

“We don’t expect ethanol prices will rise to the level of our recommended maximum price,” he said in a statement.

The draft report notes that “some stakeholders might have expected that a recommended maximum price would need to be much lower to ensure E10 is available at an attractive price”.

“However, there is a risk that recommending a much lower maximum price at this time may not support a sustainable biofuels industry in NSW,” it says.

The report says competition in the wholesale ethanol market is the best way “to support the availability of E10 to consumers at an attractive price and achieve the objective of a sustainable biofuels industry in NSW”.

Mr Dominello encouraged the public and stakeholders to make submissions on the draft report by November 25.

The ethanol reforms were announced to meet the requirement in the Biofuels Act that says 6 per cent of all petrol sold by major retailers is ethanol. The current level is 2.5 per cent.

But they have been controversial amid warnings that retailers forced to sell E10 for the first time need to increase the price of petrol to recoup the cost of equipment upgrades.

Fairfax Media has also revealed that ethanol producer Manildra secured 20 meetings with NSW ministers and donated more than $160,000 to the Coalition in a ferocious lobbying effort before the introduction of new laws.

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Court finds ‘f— Fred Nile’ not offensive language at marriage equality rally

Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile. Photo: Brook Mitchell  
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Seldom does a magistrate use the phrase “you f—ing beauty” in a judgment, or reflect on whether the word “f—” is part of a child’s vocabulary.

On Tuesday Sydney magistrate Geoffrey Bradd had cause to do both in dismissing charges against a group of protesters hauled before the Local Court for saying “f— Fred Nile” and calling opponents “f—ers” at a rally in support of same sex marriage.

In a decision touted as a win for free speech, Magistrate Bradd threw out offensive language charges against the group, saying the words were used “to dismiss the argument against marriage equality” rather than to cause offence.

April Holcombe was one of three protesters charged with using offensive language after the rally in Belmore Park in Haymarket in September last year.

“I was called 48 hours after the protest to be told that I had sworn, that this was on police footage, and that my $500 fine was in the mail,” said Ms Holcombe, LGBTI Officer for the National Union of Students.

The protest was organised by activist group Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) to counter an anti same-sex marriage march organised by Christian Democratic Party leader and upper house MP Fred Nile and Christian group Unity Australia.

Ms Holcombe said during the protest: “We need to make a stand against them and make sure us using bad language about these f—ers is nothing compared to the epidemic of suicides these people contribute to”.

Patrick Hildehand and Cat Rose, co-conveners of CAAH, were charged with saying “f— Fred Nile” and “bigots f— off” respectively.

Police issued them with penalty notices for offensive language, which were invalid under criminal procedure laws which prevent police from issuing such notices during “an apparently genuine demonstration or protest”.

The trio was subsequently charged with using offensive language – the maximum penalty for which is a $660 fine – and served with notices to appear in court.

The court heard Ms Rose told a police officer “f—” was “part of the common vernacular”, prompting him to respond it was “not part of children’s vernacular” and there were families at the park.

Magistrate Bradd said there was no evidence Ms Rose used the words “f— off” and dismissed the charges against Ms Holcombe and Mr Hildehand on the basis the words were not offensive in context.

He said whether the word “f—” is part of a child’s vernacular “depends on the words that a child listens to from others”.

The word was only offensive if it was “calculated to wound the feelings, arouse anger or resentment or disgust and outrage in the mind of a reasonable person”.

Phrases such as “you f—ing beauty” and “f—ing hell” were unlikely to be offensive, he said.

The protesters were represented by a phalanx of lawyers, including Sydney barristers Stephen Lawrence and Felicity Graham and solicitor Charles Stanford.

Sydney solicitor Christian Hearn, who appeared for Ms Rose, said offensive language laws had “for too long been used as a social control applied disproportionately against marginalised and vulnerable people”.

“The magistrate ruled that the language used by our clients was not unlawful and once again confirmed that a person does not commit a crime merely by using the word ‘f—‘,” he said.

“The police should remind themselves of that before subjecting peaceful protesters and other citizens to arrest and criminal prosecution for nothing more than speech.”

Ms Rose said: “We’ll keep protesting until we have our rights, and you can expect a few f-bombs along the way.”

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Life insurance advice reforms will help better protect consumers

Life insurance bought through an adviser has a greater chance of success at claims time. Photo: FairfaxWhile commissions are being phased out on most of the financial advice industry, they live on when it comes to life insurance.
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Unlike with commissions on other financial products that are paid by the consumer, life insurance commissions are paid by the insurers.

However, with up-front commissions of about 120 per cent of the first year’s premium, there’s an incentive for advisers to switch or “churn” their clients to another policy to trigger another up-front commission.

The government has a bill before parliament that will cap upfront commissions to 60 per cent of the first year premium.

Advisers are paid about 10 per cent of the annual premium by insurers as ongoing commissions. The bill doubles the maximum allowable ongoing commission to 20 per cent.

Under the “clawback” provision of the bill if the adviser switches a client to another policy within one year, the adviser will have to re-pay all of the up-front commission to the insurer of the first policy.

If the switch occurs between 12 months and two years, the adviser repays 60 per cent of the up-front commission.

Life insurance, which includes death and disability cover, is among the most complex of insurances with widely differing definitions of what constitutes disability, diseases and conditions, for example.

Buying insurance through an adviser can often be cheaper than buying direct from the insurer with more chance of the claim going through.

In its latest review of life insurance, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission found higher levels of denial of claims for those policies sold direct to consumers with no financial advice, compared with policies sold through advisers and “group” insurance policies, such as through super funds.

It’s likely that a policy recommended through an adviser is better tailored to the needs of the consumer. And a good adviser will help with the claims process.

But there is something else. Policies bought through advisers are underwritten by the insurer at the time that the policy is accepted.

With most policies bought directly from insurers, the checking of disclosures is done at the time of the claim.

That can mean a higher chance of someone paying premiums for years thinking that they are covered only have their beneficiary’s claim denied.

Many super funds offer automatic acceptance without the need to provide medical history or undergo a medical exam.

Some funds with automatic acceptance now require that pre-existing medical conditions be disclosed and, as long as they are disclosed, cover should not be affected.

This bill and the other reforms that make-up the Life Insurance Framework will help better protect consumers.

They should be passed by parliament so that the new rules are not delayed beyond the scheduled start date of 2018.

Twitter: @jcollett_money

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‘Two sets of rules’: Melbourne Victory coach fuming at referee after loss to City

A fuming Kevin Muscat accused referee Shaun Evans of “insulting people’s intelligence” for his decision to allow Luke Brattan’s opening goal in Melbourne City’s 2-0 FFA Cup semi-final win over Muscat’s Melbourne Victory side.
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The Victory coach was incensed that the strike was not ruled out because of what he believes was blatant interference from an offside Tim Cahill, who was obscuring Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas’ vision of the Brattan shot. Cahill had to duck to avoid being struck by Brattan’s drive from outside the penalty area.

“Staggering,” was Muscat’s response when asked post match for his reaction to the Evans decision.

“If someone had to get out of the way of the ball … it’s a strike by Brattan, Timmy has to get out of the way otherwise it is going to hit him. Lawrence can’t move until the ball goes past Timmy because there might be a deflection.

“If you have to get out of the way of the ball travelling towards the goal I would suggest you are obstructing the keeper.”

He was also angry that a “goal” by Victory was also disallowed in similar circumstances.

Besart Berisha, who was in an offside position, appeared to have touched the ball when it was crossed in from the left before it fell to an onside Marco Rojas who headed it home. Evans ruled that goal out for offside by Berisha who, if he hadn’t touched the ball, was obstructing City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.

Muscat said that was another mistake.

“Bes is in an offside position, he doesn’t get anything on the ball. Marco scores and it’s disallowed.

“I will ask Ben Wilson (FFA director of referees) to come and explain to the players the rules … if we are going to insult people’s intelligence.

“Tim had to move out of the way otherwise the ball is going to hit him.

“It did seem at times as though there were two sets of rules.

“It was just blatant, don’t try and cover it up, insulting people’s intelligence.”

Cahill was exultant that he and his City teammates are now only 90 minutes away from winning silverware at his new club.

“It’s great for us, we said we would play our football. We got a reaction tonight (after the A-League loss to Perth Glory last Friday night). This is what it’s about. We are going to compete. For me this is what it’s about.

“I am proud for the boys and the fans … we have to listen to people and keyboard warriors … not now. We knew that was going to be tough. We can’t just lie there and let them kick us.

“All these hashtags, it’s our city… it is tonight.”

The referee said he had no qualms about his decision after the game.

“The assistant referee raised his flag as he saw there was a player in an offside position,” Evans told Fox Sports.

“As the ball went in the net, in his opinion there could have been the possibility that the offside player interfered with the goalkeeper’s line of vision.

“I said that (Cahill) didn’t interfere with the goalkeeper’s movement, therefore the goal stands.”

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