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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 January 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 2015 31 SPORT Mixed fortunes for Special Ks Australian Open: Thanasi Kokkinakis defeated in second round while Nick Melbourne Victory get set to soar. Expect plenty of goals The Asian Cup has pushed the A-League to one side for the past couple of weeks, but now the knock-out rounds of Asia's most important international tournament are underway the domestic League is set to return this afternoon. Adelaide United kicks off a split round against the Newcastle Jets this afternoon - but one big name Jets player won't be taking part. Former Johnny Warren medallist Marcos Flores is on his way out of the Aleague, headed for a threeyear deal with Jacksonville in the United States second tier league. The 29-year-old had an injury plagued career in the A-League but he's got no regrets after spells with Adelaide, Central Coast, Melbourne Victory and the Jets. "What I can say is that I really enjoyed Australia. I really enjoyed the A-League and I will always be thankful." Adelaide are the only side Newcastle have beaten in 14 games this season, but that's where their one-upmanship ends. The second-last Jets have conceded more goals (28) and had fewer shots (96) than any other team. The Reds lead the stats on both counts and are just six points adrift of the league leaders Perth, who they beat last start before the Asian Cup break. After that Adelaide versus Jets match, Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold takes his Sky Blues back to his former club the Central Coast Mariners. Graham Arnold returns to Gosford for the first time as Sydney FC coach and the barbs have started early. The Mariners were forced to apologise mid-week after describing their ex-boss as "cashed-up Arnie" in a promo. It could fire up the Sky Blues (5th), who haven't scored in any of their last four matches. Nor have they beaten the Mariners (8th) at home since August 2008. Phil Moss' men are slight favourites, having ended a 12-game winless streak against Melbourne City last start. But the match of the round takes place on Sunday when first-placed Perth Glory welcomes third-placed Melbourne Victory. Expect plenty of goals in this battle between two of the season's best early performers. The Victory are just four points behind ladder leaders Perth after beating Western Sydney Wanderers before the break and are eyeing that top spot. While it helps that they've never failed to score in 14 visits to Perth, Glory have found the net in each of their last 11 matches. Kyrgios moves ahead MICHAEL SWEET Crowd favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis was outmuscled by fellow Australian Sam Groth on Wednesday evening at a humid Hisense arena, but as the Greek flags still waved in appreciation of Kokkinakis' efforts, all who witnessed the Adelaide teenager's play in this year's singles competition found comfort in the knowledge that he'll be back. Kokkinakis went down in five sets 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in the round 2 match, after an arm-wrestle that ebbed and flowed until the fifth, when the Groth's weight of stroke play finally sunk the young Greek Australian. While Kokkinakis played the more graceful tennis, it was Groth - 9 years his senior - whose firepower eventually won out. Earlier in the week, in round 1 Kokkinakis defeated Croation number 11 seed Ernest Gulbis in the biggest win of his career. Kokkinakis saved four match points in the fourth set and held his nerve in a tense fifth set to steal the show on opening night at Melbourne Park, winning 5-7, 6-0, 1-6, 7-6 (72), 8-6. While Kokkinakis may have lost on Wednesday, he's certainly won hearts and minds, and not just with his hundreds of supporters - mostly women under 25 - who flocked to his practice sessions during the week. After his win against Gulbis, Australian Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter, it was Kokkinakis' composure and attitude in handling his first five-set grand slam victory that impressed. "I was excited for Thanasi, that was one of my most exciting matches, [to] see a kid with a lot of potential starting to come of age," Rafter said. Thanasi Kokkinakis celebrates after beating Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in the first round of the Australian Open. Kokkinakis was defeated by fellow Aussie Sam Groth in round 2. PHOTO: AP/ANDY BROWNBILL. "He's still three or four years away, he's not ready yet … but I like his attitude, and I liked the way he kept his composure really level and he had some really big situations throughout that match, and he showed a lot of maturity." Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios made it to round 3, with his exploits in the first week of the tournament getting just as much, if not more attention for his behaviour on and off court as the tennis he has played. After overcoming a nagging back injury, Kyrgios knocked out Argentine Federico Delbonis in a stunning five-set performance in round 1, before taking on the Croatian Ivo Karlovic (seeded 23) in round 2. In a potent display dominated by a serving battle Kyrgios toppled Karlovic, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in a match that saw the 19-year-old Canberran buoyed on by a vociferous crowd. Nick Kyrgios defeated Ivo Karlovic of Croatia to set up a third-round tie with Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri. PHOTO: AAP/LUKAS COCH After the win Kyrgios said his confidence was now on the up from a below par first round "In the first round, there was a lot of expectation and pressure to do something," Kyrgios said. "When I got past the first round it was the first win by me in a long time and it gave me a lot of confidence in my game. "Physically backing up after five sets as well, I can take massive confidence out of that." Kyrgios, arguably the tennis world's greatest showman at the moment, and undoubtedly the player with the most bravado, was criticised heavily for his antics in the Karlovic match, which included almost constant conversations with the crowd and asking fans to predict where his opponent would serve. Fined $4,500 for 'racquet abuse' and leaking an 'audible obscenity' in the match, Kyrgios was equally combative in the post-game TV interview where his performance was described by many as arrogant. Not that any such criticisms are likely to phase this young man. Kyrgios and Kokkinakis - playing together - were defeated in round 1 of the mixed doubles competition 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 by Andrey Golubev and Denis Istomin on Thursday.
17 January 2015
31 January 2015