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Germany's Alexander Zverev celebrates
Zverev beats Isner to reach last four at ATP Finals
16 November 2018, 7:32 PM

Alexander Zverev became the first German to reach the last four at the ATP Finals for 15 years as he beat American John Isner 7-6 (5) 6-3 at the O2 Arena on Friday.

The 21-year-old edged a tight opening set before breaking in the eighth game of the second to close in on his second victory in the Gustavo Kuerten group and move on to a semi-final clash against six-times champion Roger Federer.

His victory meant the day’s second singles between group winner Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic is academic — apart from ranking points and the $200,000 on offer for each round-robin win at the year-ending showpiece.

Zverev became the first German in the semi-finals of the event since Rainer Schuettler lost in the last four to Andre Agassi in 2003 in Houston.

World number 10 Isner still harboured hopes of reaching the semi-finals despite losing his first two matches.

A straight sets victory and a win for Djokovic later would have seen him scrape into the weekend.

When he levelled the tiebreak at 5-5 with a thunderous forehand return it still looked possible, but Zverev responded with a superbly improvised pass on the next point before Isner dumped a forehand into the net.

Despite his hopes having gone, Isner stuck to his task in the second set but Zverev, still needing the victory to make sure of his semi-final berth, powered to his 56th match win of the year.

Zverev, the leader of the next generation of players expected to dominate the game in years to come, is the youngest semi-finalist at the tournament since Juan Martin del Potro reached the final in London in 2009.

Regardless of what happens in the day’s second singles Djokovic will play South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Anderson hitting a backhand.
Anderson off to flyer at ATP Finals with win over Thiem
11 November 2018, 9:27 PM

Kevin Anderson made a winning debut at the ATP Finals with a 6-3 7-6 (10) victory over Austrian Dominic Thiem in the opening singles match at the O2 Arena on Sunday.

Wimbledon runner-up Anderson, the first South African to qualify for the season-ender since Wayne Ferreira in 1995, was comfortably the better player in a one-sided first set.

The second set was a much tighter affair with serve dominating but Anderson sneaked a gripping tiebreaker 12-10 on his fourth match point, banging down his 13th ace to open his account in the Lleyton Hewitt group.

Anderson, 32, celebrated by leading the packed crowd in singing ‘happy birthday’ to his wife Kelsey.

Swiss Roger Federer will begin his quest for a record-extending seventh title at the eight-man season-ender when he faces Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the evening session.

Anderson had lost both his matches against Thiem this year, having won their previous six clashes, and he looked fired-up to reassert his dominance over this year’s French Open runner-up.

He broke serve in the fourth game after a deep service return forced an error from the Austrian and had chances for a double break two games later but Thiem hung in.

Anderson wrapped up the set on serve at 5-3 but Thiem came out striking the ball with more aggression in the second set and improved his serving percentage to such an extent that he conceded only two of 25 points after landing his first delivery.

Thiem could make little impression on the Anderson serve either, though, and the match drifted into a tiebreaker.

The 25-year-old Austrian saved a match point at 5-6 before playing a sensational point to earn a set point of his own, only to then net a forehand off a powerful Anderson first serve.

World number six Anderson earned a second match point and again Thiem responded strongly, saving it with a deft volley.

Anderson fired down an ace to save a second set point and, despite failing to convert a third match point, he would not be denied.

Having to still play Federer, Thiem is now in danger of falling at the group phase for the third year in a row.

The Gustavo Kuerten Group, featuring world number one and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic, Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev and American debutant John Isner begins on Monday.

Lee Westwood
Big finish bags Nedbank Challenge title for emotional Westwood
11 November 2018, 7:00 PM

Lee Westwood bagged five birdies on his back nine to storm to victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday, his first title on the European Tour for four years.

Westwood, 45, carded a faultless 64 that included an eagle and six birdies for a tournament total of 15 under par, three shots ahead of overnight leader Sergio Garcia.

The Spaniard, who had led from the first round into Sunday, could manage only a 70 as his two-shot overnight advantage was swallowed up by a magnificent finish from Westwood.

The Englishman secured a 24th European Tour title, the eighth most of all time, and a third at the Nedbank Golf Challenge after previous wins in 2010, when he was ranked the number one golfer in the world, and 2011.

“I’m a bit emotional,” a tearful Westwood told reporters. “You are never sure if you can do it again. And I needed to.

“I’m getting old, I did one for the old men today. You reach 45 and don’t know what to expect. But I’ve always felt comfortable playing this golf course. This one is very special.”

Westwood, who took home a first prize of $1.25 million, had girlfriend Helen Storey carrying his bags during the tournament after giving long-time caddy Billy Foster the week off.

“She’s caddied for me three times this year and I’ve lost in a play-off and won, so maybe I have a decision to make,” he joked.

Key to Westwood’s success on Sunday was accuracy off the tee on to the narrow fairways, but also a red-hot putter, especially on the back nine.

“I was seeing the lines and I’ve working on a few things with my putting, just trying to relax and have confidence in it,” he said.

“To give yourself those birdie chances is key here and I hit a lot of fairways. The seven iron into 17 was one of the best shots I have ever hit, definitely in the top three.”

He started the day three shots behind Garcia, with home favorite Louis Oosthuizen (69) also in contention.

The latter proved Westwood’s biggest challenger through the round until three dropped shots over the last four holes saw him fade from contention.

An eagle on the par-five second hole drew Westwood level with Garcia, who had bogeyed the first, early in the round.

But it was five birdies in seven holes between the 11th and 17th that saw him sprint away from his rivals.

 

Trump claims a “Big Victory” in US Mid-Term election
7 November 2018, 7:05 PM

Despite facing a vastly different political landscape, United States President is claiming a “Big Victory” in Tuesday’s midterm election.

He’s taken to Twitter to claim a tremendous success with Republicans picking up several key seats to solidify their hold on the Senate while Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives that could represent a huge blow to the President’s agenda.

Democrats already have 222 seats confirmed, requiring a 218 majority in the House while Republicans have 51 in the 100-seat Senate. That could spell trouble for the Trump administration as Democrats now have the power to provide oversight of his administration, which includes subpoena power.

 

 

It wasn’t the blue wave many were expecting. But Democrats regain one lever of power that gives them more leverage in dealing with the administration of President Trump – with the minority leader Nancy Pelosi earmarked to retake the Speakership – a position she first held in 2007 and the only woman ever do so.

“In stark contrast to the GOP Congress, a Democratic Congress who will be led with transparency and openness so that the public can see what’s happening and how it affects them, and that they can weigh in with the members of Congress, and with the president of the United States. We will have accountability and we will strive for bipartisanship with fairness on all sides. We have a responsibility to find our common ground where we can, stand our ground where we can’t, but we must try. We have a market of a bipartisan marketplace of ideas that makes our democracy strong. A Democratic Congress will work for solutions that bring us together.”

Democrats suffered key incumbent losses in Senate races in Missouri, North Dakota and Indiana – rural states where President Trump remains popular –  and were unable to shift Republican holds on Senate seats in Texas and Arizona.

In Florida the Senate race remains too close to call with Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson hanging on by a thread – giving the President enough ammunition to claim victory in this election. But he complained on twitter about not being given enough credit and sent a warning shot to Democrats that if they’re planning to waste taxpayer money by investigating Republicans then his party would be forced to return the favour in the Senate. After a night in which a record number of women won election to Congress.

Abigail Spanberger unseated a Republican incumbent in her Virginia district.

“This is what can happen when everyday citizens realize their collective strength in a democracy and when they join with their neighbors to stand up for what they believe in and they use their voices at the polls.”

Democrats also suffered emotional loses in Texas where insurgent Beto O’Rouke failed to unseat Ted Cruz and in Florida when Andrew Gillum fell short in his quest to become the states first black Governor. He lost to Ron DeSantis.

“Other than serving our nation in uniform, the opportunity to serve as the 46th governor of the great state of Florida is the greatest professional honor of my life.”

Next door in Georgia, the project to elect the country’s first black woman Governor hangs in the balance. Stacey Abrams trails but has yet to concede the race.

“There are votes remaining to be counted, there are voices remaining to be heard, across our states folks are opening up the dreams of voters in absentee ballots and we believe our chances for a stronger Georgia is just within reach. But we cannot seize it until all voices are heard.”

Several key races remain outstanding but the dye in this election has largely been cast.

Eskom plans executive lay-offs to cut costs
7 November 2018, 3:26 PM

South Africa’s cash-strapped power firm Eskom has approved a plan to cut executives jobs as it struggles to bring down operating costs, the utility said on Wednesday, the first step in the firm’s proposed restructuring.

“Eskom’s operating costs have continued to increase dramatically while output has remained largely unchanged … As such, Eskom’s Board has approved a Section 189 process for its executive structure,” the firm said in a statement.

According to the Department of Labour’s website, section 189 outlines the steps a firm must follow when it is considering “dismissing one or more employees for reasons based on the employer’s operational requirements”.

An Eskom spokesperson did not answer phone calls and texts from Reuters seeking clarification on the number of jobs the planned lay-offs would involve.

Eskom, supplier of more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity, has suffered years of mismanagement.

The utility reported a R2.3 billion loss for the latest financial year, and announced plans to shed around 7 000 staff from its bloated workforce over the next five years.

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