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Volume 6 No. 211

Events and Attractions

Maria Sharapova has "called for tennis officials to clear confusion over what qualifies as unplayable conditions after she was forced to play" in temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) at the Australian Open, according to Michael Chammas of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The heat "forced matches to be suspended" at 1:52pm on Thursday after tournament referee Wayne McEwen used his "discretionary powers to stop play after the wet-bulb temperature reached a certain level and was forecast to remain there for at least an hour." Despite the policy being applied, Sharapova and Italian Karin Knapp were forced to continue for 50 minutes "before the Russian claimed a 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 victory in three hours, 28 minutes." Sharapova: "There is no way of getting around the fact that the conditions were extremely difficult, and have been for the last few days. It's a tough call. I think the question I have is no one really knows what the limit is. Not the players or the trainers themselves when you ask them when will the roof be closed. No one actually knows what that number is in comparison to humidity or the actual heat" (SMH, 1/17). In Sydney, Margie McDonald reported Sharapova's "other gripe was that the Rod Laver Arena roof should have been closed after the second set in her match, or after a fourth set in any men's match, because the third and fifth sets respectively have no tiebreaker." Sharapova said, "If you know that there is no tiebreaker, officials can't just rely on maybe the set will go fast and the set will be over and we will be off court, because we have no tiebreaker in that last set. So that's what you have to consider." The Herald Sun "measured the on-court temperature with its own thermometer and recorded 52C (126F) on the rubberised Plexicushion surface." The "thermometer then broke" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/17).

DECISION CORRECT, OVERDUE: Also in Sydney, Richard Hinds opined Andy Murray had "warned on Tuesday that someone might have a heart attack if Australian Open officials continued to insist players toil away" in the 43 degrees Celsius (109 Fahrenheit) heat. So "lacking in charisma is the Scot that, should he be the first player to expire, it could take spectators some time to notice." But the "straight talking Murray made a good point." Because tennis is "only a game," the decision to "protect the health of players, officials and spectators should have been easy." Although, a "few sceptics had muttered, slightly less easy when you are beholden to TV paymasters and trying to keep the turnstiles clicking." Common sense "finally prevailed on Thursday." Fortunately this "was not prompted by the death of some overwrought clay-courter." Actually, other other than the "reading of the dubious and vaguely rude sounding 'wet bulb globe,' it was difficult to tell why the policy was enacted." Perhaps they had "run out of ice vests or the air-conditioner in the office of tournament director Wayne McEwen's had gone on the blink" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 1/17).

'MISSING COMMON SENSE': SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Jon Wertheim commented, "For all the jokes and throwaway lines that flew around Melbourne Park earlier in the week, Thursday turned gravely serious. In kiln-like conditions, players took the court at 11 a.m. It was the hottest day yet, which is saying something: Triple-digit temperatures with no wind or cloud cover, temperatures on court eclipsing 120 degrees. These weren't tennis matches so much as they were physical battles, sadistic tests of the outer limits of human endurance." Wertheim also took organizers to task, writing, "As devastating as the heat has been, the reaction by the sport's officials has been comparably brutal. Double-speak. Vagueness. An absence of common sense. This was tennis -- fractious and fractured -- at its worst" (SI, 1/16).

Australian Open fan Daniel Dobson, the first person arrested in Australia for gambling courtside at the tennis event, "was sitting in Show Court 2 at the Australian Open with a device hidden in his shorts, a court has heard," according to Mark Russell of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Dobson, 22, allegedly "used the device to send information to his mobile phone which was forwarded to an overseas international betting agency to give it an advantage." He had "arrived in Australia from Britain on Sunday." The "maximum penalty is 10 years' jail" (SMH, 1/16). The AAP reported police prosecutor Josh Diemar said that Dobson "sent the agency the results before they could get them through official channels." Diemar added that "had the ability to affect betting odds." Diemar: "That (data) has been sent quicker than the official results can get posted." Dobson's lawyer, Sass Nasimi, said that his client was "simply collecting data for the betting agency." The agency, Sporting Data, released a statement "defending Mr Dobson's actions and its business practices, denying any corrupt activity." The statement said, "Sporting Data has never been, and never will be, involved in any type of match-fixing" (AAP, 1/17).

Cricket Australia's Big Bash League is "attracting larger crowds, greater audiences and broad interest on the back of an extraordinary summer of Test cricket that some suspected would suck the air out of any other competition," according to Peter Lalor of THE AUSTRALIAN. CA CEO James Sutherland said during the summer that the "radical changes to the game should not be judged by the results of this Ashes or next year's World Cup." With seven games and the finals to play in Big Bash 03, TV ratings and attendances "suggest the domestic tournament is almost as big a success as the Ashes." The BBL is attracting "almost 1 million viewers a game" -- a four-fold increase on '12-13. Channel 10's coverage has "attracted widespread positive feedback." Average match attendances this year are "up from 14,000 to almost 20,000." CA "blew its budget establishing the league," investing more than $20M. This year the marketing budget "remains high and Sutherland admits it will be some time before there is a genuine return on the financial investment." Sutherland: "It will be a long time before we recoup the money from it but in a strategic sense it is starting to pay dividends and the benefit of being on free-to-air has turbocharged the Big Bash League" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/17).

The German Basketball Federation (DBB) "is applying for a wild card for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup," according to Anno Hecker of the FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG. Germany's "secret weapon" is NBA Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki. Should Germany receive the wild card, Nowitzki "could make a national team comeback." DBB President Rolf-Ingo Weiss said, "We can guarantee that Germany would assemble its best and most competitive team including our NBA players." It could mean that the DBB "is intensively working on gettting Nowitzki to return to the national squad for which he has not played in three years" (FAZ, 1/15)

Brazil's Tourism Ministry is encouraging "alternative accommodations in certain cases for tourists who want to visit the country during the World Cup," according to NOTIMEX. One of these alternatives is called "bed and breakfast," where families offer a place to stay and breakfast at their homes at lower prices than hotels. In Brasilia, which will host seven games, "there are already 325 homes registered to provide this service." Brazil's Tourism Ministry "has created a website,, where various options are displayed." Some homes offering "bed and breakfast" are charging around 190 reales ($80) per night, a fourth of the price of a hotel (NOTIMEX, 1/15).