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Kyrgios, Murray power into second round in Brisbane
1 January 2019, 3:21 PM

Nick Kyrgios started his Brisbane Open title defence with a battling 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5) victory over American Ryan Harrison in the opening round on Tuesday.

Kyrgios’ preparations for the season were interrupted by a spider bite that required hospital treatment last month and the Australian stuttered before firing 45 aces to overcome Harrison in a rematch of last year’s final.

Kyrgios, whose season ended in October due to a niggling elbow issue, will look to hit top gear ahead of this month’s Australian Open.

He meets Jeremy Chardy next.

Andy Murray made a successful return to competitive tennis following a persistent hip problem, sealing a 6-3 6-4 win over local hope James Duckworth.

Murray, champion in his previous two appearances in 2012 and 2013, will look to extend his winning streak in the tournament to 11 matches when he meets Russian Daniil Medvedev next.

Top seed Rafa Nadal said he was raring to go following an injury hit 2018 that saw him contest only nine events but win five titles including a record-extending 11th French Open title that took his Grand Slam tally to 17.

“It was a tough season in terms of injuries… I didn’t have the chance to play as often as I would like,” Nadal, who did not play after retiring against Juan Martin del Potro in their US Open semi-final in September, said.

“On the other hand, I won five events out of nine I played. It was a great level of tennis every time that I was on court. So that’s great news. I enjoyed it a lot.”

Nadal was plagued by hip, knee, abdomen and ankle problems last season but said he still had plenty to offer.

“I believe I have a lot of tennis to play in my career, and I really feel my body is not going worse every year,” Nadal, who plays France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Thursday, added.

In the women’s competition, double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was made to work before she downed American Danielle Collins 6-7(6) 7-6(6) 6-3 in a little over three hours.

Johanna Konta struggled with patchy form last season but the Briton began the New Year with a bang, downing third seed Sloane Stephens 6-4 6-3.

“That was a tough match. The first three games took about half an hour,” Konta, who takes on Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic next, said. “I’m happy I was able to maintain my level consistently throughout.”

US Open champion Naomi Osaka beat local qualifier Destanee Aiava, hitting nine aces during a routine 6-3 6-2 victory.

Sebokeng residents affected by flooding
31 December 2018, 6:20 PM

At least 70 houses have been flooded in Sebokeng Zone 6, in the Emfuleni Local Municipality, south of Johannesburg.

Persistent wet weather conditions have put a damper on plans for New Year celebrations in various parts of the country.

Emfuleni Municipality’s Spokesperson, Stanely Gaba says they are still assessing the extent of the damage in other parts of the affected areas.

“There are at least 70 houses that have been flooded in Zone 6 only. We are still trying to assess the damage that has been caused to infrastructure such as housing and other structures. So far, no fatalities or injuries have been reported.”

Wet conditions to continue in Gauteng

The Weather Service says wet conditions inland are expected to continue into Tuesday. The Service has warned of flash flooding in parts of Gauteng as residents of Sebokeng  are cleaning up after the flood.

The Emfuleni Municipality is assessing the extent of the damage as the rain persists.

Forecaster Dipuo Tawana explains, “Gauteng and North West, Mpumalanga and the western bushveld of Limpopo, the western and north-eastern parts of KwaZulu-Natal – we do expect this rain to persist on and off – throughout this evening into tomorrow. Even though we’re not expecting torrential or heavy rainfall, but because the soil is saturated, we’re expecting most of the water that would be coming from the sky to run off, thus resulting in flooding in most areas.”

Fireworks display
New Zealand, Australia enter 2019 with a bang
31 December 2018, 3:45 PM

The world’s first major city to enter 2019, Auckland in New Zealand, has said a raucous goodbye to 2018.

A massive fireworks display had revelers partying up a storm, kicking off major celebrations expected across the globe.

New Zealand follows Samoa and Kiribati, who were the first countries in the world, to welcome 2019.

Meanwhile, Australia’s largest city Sydney has been treated another spectacular New Year’s fireworks display in the world famous harbour.

At least eight tonnes of fireworks were ignited and the Opera House was lit up by a technicolor of light as the fireworks filled the sky.

The show lasted twelve minutes in recognition of the 12 months of the new year.

It was watched by well over a million people in the harbour area and over a billion on TV and streaming media around the world – including channel 404.

A thunderstorm did not dampen the spirits of revellers.

Oversupply, faltering growth to weigh on oil prices in 2019: Poll
31 December 2018, 3:33 PM

Crude oil prices look likely to trade below $70 per barrel in 2019 as surplus production, much of it from the United States, and slowing economic growth undermine OPEC-led efforts to shore up the market, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

A survey of 32 economists and analysts forecasts the North Sea Brent crude oil benchmark will average $69.13 per barrel in 2019, more than $5 lower than last month’s projection.

Brent has averaged $71.76 in 2018.

“The first half of 2019 will be dominated by concerns about oversupply,” said Ashley Petersen of Stratas Advisors.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, known collectively as OPEC+, agreed earlier this month to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to try to drain global crude inventoriesand support prices.

But the cuts are not due to take place until January and prices have fallen more than 15% since the announcement.

“The market had largely priced in renewed production cuts from OPEC. As a result, we expect prices to sink if OPEC or Russia diverge from their production quotas notably,” said Cailin Birch, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“We expect the cuts to be renewed in April, when the dealcomes up for review, as higher output from the US and weakening global demand require continued restraint.”

Oil prices have fallen more than 40% from multi-year highs reached in early October on concerns about the impact of a trade dispute between the United States and China on global economic growth and demand for oil.

Another potential headwind next year is slowing consumption.

Many analysts project demand growth of a little over 1 million bpd in 2019, compared with an increase of 1.54 million bpd in 2018, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Meanwhile, US shale oil output growth is expected to remain robust, adding to supply.

The United States this year surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer, with overall US crude production climbing to arecord 11.7 million bpd.

“We expect US (companies) will increase shale oil production continuously over the next year,” said Adri Salmeron, economist at Caixa Bank Research.

The Reuters poll forecast US light crude would average $61.05 per barrel in 2019, versus $67.45 projected in the previous poll.

It has averaged $64.98 in 2018.

Analysts believe the end of US sanctions waivers on Iran’s oil exports will put extra pressure on oil prices.

‘Wet weather won’t dampen our party mood’
31 December 2018, 3:14 PM

South Africans in many parts of the country including Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban are hopeful that the wet weather will not dampen their New Year’s eve celebrations.

Johannesburg and Pretoria have received soaking rains with overcast weather expected to continue into Tuesday.

In Durban, the Weather Service says light showers are expected in and around parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

Forecaster, Ayanda Nsele says temperatures are expected to remain cool across many parts of the province.

“We are expecting a 30% chance of showers and thundershowers to come through on Monday afternoon. Parts of KZN, including Pietermaritzburg, Newcastle, and Ladysmith will be experiencing a 50% chance of showers. Along the KZN coastline residents can expect a 30% chance of rain. Early afternoon, evening temperatures will be peaking between 24 and 26 degrees.”

Beachgoers in Durban can expect some sunshine on the first day of 2019. Nsele says there is a 30% chance of isolated showers in parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

“Tomorrow, the weather will be fine during the day. However, in the afternoon we can expect afternoon isolated showers and thundershowers.”



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