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Andrew Symonds dies in car crash

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Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds was killed in what police said was a single-car crash on Saturday night outside Townsville, on the north-eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. Police confirmed that the 46-year-old died at the scene of the mishap.

“Early information indicates, shortly after 11 pm (Australian time) the car was being driven on Hervey Range Road, near Alice River Bridge when it left the roadway and rolled,” the police statement said.
“Emergency services attempted to revive the 46-year-old driver and sole occupant. However, he died of his injuries. The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.”
Symonds’ sudden death triggered an outpouring of emotional tributes in the cricketing world with a host of past and present players, including his Australian teammates and international stars, expressing shock and disbelief at the tragic news. His death follows in quick succession after compatriots Shane Warne and Rodney Marsh – due to heart attacks – in a triple whammy for Australia.
Born on the 9th of June 1975 in Birmingham to West Indian-European parents, Symonds grew up in Australia. He started his Cricket career for Queensland in 1994 where he scored 5000 runs and took more than 100 wickets.
He first grabbed attention in 1995 when, as a 20-year-old, he smashed a record 20 sixes for Gloucestershire against Glamorgan. It didn’t fructify immediately on the international stage, mostly for his temperament as he would admit later. “I was a man without a map when I went out to bat.”
Symonds’ old coach Toot Byron commented that he hated watching him bat. “He wasn’t in control of his shot selection. He’d get 24 off an over and then go out on the last ball of that over” Byron added.


Ten years later, Symonds came through for Australia after Ricky Ponting put faith on him at the 2003 World Cup. This was exactly the kind of break Symonds was eying. Among a masterful 143 off 125 balls against Pakistan, Symonds had a dream run during the tournament with many such invaluable knocks.
However, the roller-coaster ride had only started. In 2006 he was suspended for drinking issues. He bounced back in the 2007-08 season as an all-rounder. He scored 777 runs in nine Tests against Sri Lanka, India & West Indies.
He was the first one to embrace the 20-over format when the IPL came into existence in 2008, and one of the costliest players in the auction. His Deccan Chargers failed miserably in the first season, but went on to win the next season.
Disciplinary issues crept up again though. The infamous ‘Monkeygate’ altercation with Harbhajan Singh and alcohol problems before the 2009 T20 World cup proved to be his undoing.

Journalist for 25 years with leading publications in India and UAE such as The National, Mumbai Mirror, DNA, Indian Express and former Sports Editor of eIndia.com. Now managing editor of Headline.ae, part of MEMc (https://www.memc.co)

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Spanish court hands jail term to Brazil’s Dani Alves for assault – ARN News Centre

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AFP

Brazilian footballer Dani Alves was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on Thursday for sexually assaulting a woman in a Barcelona nightclub in 2022.

The top court in Spain’s Catalonia region also ordered Alves, who had maintained throughout it was consensual, to pay 150,000 euros ($163,000) to the victim.

“The sentence considers that it has been proven that the victim did not consent, and that there is evidence, in addition to the testimony of the plaintiff, to consider the rape proven,” the court – the Audiencia Provincial de Barcelona – said in a statement.

The prosecutor had sought a nine-year prison term for Alves. The verdict can be appealed.

The 40-year-old former Barcelona defender was arrested in January last year and has been held on remand since then.

The case has attracted significant attention not only because of Alves’ profile but because gender violence has become an increasingly dominant topic in Spain’s public discourse.

It has been one of the most high-profile trials in Spain since a law was passed in 2022 that made consent a key element in sexual assault cases and increased the minimum prison time for assaults involving violence.

Alves’ lawyers were not immediately reachable for comment.

“We are satisfied as the sentence recognises what we’ve been saying all along: that the victim was telling the truth and that she suffered,” lawyer David Saenz told reporters outside the courthouse, adding that his team would still analyse whether the sentence corresponds to the gravity of the crime.

Alves won more than 40 trophies for Brazil and clubs including Barcelona, Sevilla, Juventus and Paris St Germain. Following his arrest, he was fired by Mexico’s Pumas UNAM.

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Humbert dominates Bublik to seal ATP 500 glory – ARN News Centre

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Ugo Humbert produced a ruthless masterclass to defeat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in straight sets and seal ATP 500 victory in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday night.

The French No5 seed, who rises to a career-high World No14 after his heroics in Dubai, made it a clean sweep of six titles in six ATP finals with a clinical 6-4, 6-3 dismantling of No7 seed Bublik, the World No19, at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Humbert, who defeated compatriot Gael Monfils, Britain’s Andy Murray, World No8 Hubert Hurkacz, and World No4 Daniil Medvedev to reach the final, unleashed his full repertoire of booming forehands and laser-like double-handed backhands to eclipse Bublik, who progressed past 2022 Dubai champion Andrey Rublev in a dramatic semi-final, which saw the No2 seed disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct. 

After tight opening exchanges where the pair were evenly matched, the final stayed on-serve until the 10th game when Humbert, who had failed to convert break points in Bublik’s two previous service games, finally broke the Kazakh’s resistance to clinch the first set 6-4. 

With Bublik delighting the Dubai crowd with a combination of whipped forehands and a deft array of dropshots, Humbert, relaxed and controlled, raced into a 3-1 second set lead after breaking Bublik. From there, the 25-year-old left-hander relied on his own dominant serve – unbroken throughout the final – to close out the match on his second Championship point.

“I played a fantastic level all through the week, but it was not easy,” said Humbert, who claims the winner’s prize of $550,140. “I really don’t know how I stayed calm. I have too much respect for [Bublik], he’s such a nice guy on and off the court, and congratulations to him on a great start to the year.”

A beaten but upbeat Bublik reflected: “This week has had almost everything for me, and I can’t wait to come back here again in 2025. Before the final, I thought if I won I would dedicate it to my son, but sorry, maybe next time,” said the 26-year-old, who pockets the runner-up prize of $296,000.

In the men’s doubles final, the Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor and Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff narrowly defeated Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and the USA’s Austin Krajicek 6-4, 4-6, 10-6. With a pair of service breaks enough to settle the opening two sets, Griekspoor and Struff came from 1-3 down in the deciding super tiebreak, winning nine of the last 12 points to claim a maiden Dubai title and shared prize pool of $180,700. Beaten finalists Dodig and Krajicek share a runners-up purse of $96,370.
 
“It’s the first time we’ve played together, so maybe we should keep it one week,” Griekspoor joked during the post-match ceremony. “We played really well and had a great time, it was a lot of fun on court. I had such a pleasure on court this week.”

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. 
 



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F1 season opens with Verstappen in ‘a different galaxy’ – ARN News Centre

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Max Verstappen could not have hoped for a better start to his bid for a fourth-consecutive Formula One title, with even rivals hailing his crushingly dominant display in Saturday’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as being in “a different galaxy”.

The Dutch driver took the chequered flag 22.4 seconds clear of his teammate Sergio Perez driving a similar RB20.

He did it having started from pole, led every lap and with the fastest lap to complete a ‘grand slam’.

“Unbelievable, I think today went even better than expected,” said Verstappen.

“It was a lot of fun, I felt really good in the car.

“It’s special to have these kind of days, where it all feels perfect and you feel at one with the car.”

A close-run qualifying on Friday and a constant changing of the guard in practice, with three different teams occupying top spot in the three sessions and none of them Red Bull, had raised the prospect of a closer-run race on Saturday.

The seemingly untroubled ease of Verstappen’s win in the first race of a record 24-round season swiftly dashed those hopes, instead giving way to a sense of resignation and foreboding.

The 26-year-old, barely breaking a sweat as he got out of the car, had similarly won last year’s Bahrain season-opener from pole.

But that wasn’t as commanding as his win on Saturday, with his winning margin then half what it was this year and no fastest lap.

Nevertheless, it set the stage for Verstappen to sign off 2023 with 19 wins from 22 races.

With his Red Bull harder to catch, at least on the evidence of the 2024 season opener, there is every possibility he could go better.

Rivals are not ruling out the prospect.

“Unfortunately, yes,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said when asked if Verstappen could be uncatchable. “(We) just have to acknowledge his performance levels are really strong.

“I think today Max is not in a different league but he’s in a different galaxy — the performance is extraordinary.”



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