Sharapova happily back in old routine at Open

MELBOURNE: Maria Sharapova said Tuesday she was delighted to be back in the old routine after a trying 2017 as she sailed into the second round of the Australian Open.

It was the Russian star´s first match at Melbourne for two years, having tested positive for performance-enhancing meldonium in Australia in 2016 and only returning from a 15-month doping ban last April.

And she sealed a 6-1, 6-4 victory in style with an ace against Germany´s Tatjana Maria in an hour and 18 minutes.

“I felt like I have got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally last year,” said Sharapova, who only returned to Grand Slam action at the US Open, where she reached the last 16.

“(In 2017) there was a lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament, first Grand Slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely.

“But it felt pretty routine today, just really happy to be back here.”

On paper this should have been a close match. Sharapova, who is climbing her way back up the tennis ladder following her ban, is ranked 48th with her German opponent one place higher.

But the gulf in class and experience between Sharapova, who has won 36 singles titles, and the 30-year-old journeywoman yet to register a WTA title was evident from the opening exchanges.

The 2008 Australian Open champion hardly looked back after racing into a 2-0 lead, holding her own serve to love and then breaking the German three times with ease to take the first set 6-1 in 32 minutes.

“Look, I´ve got shivers,” said Sharapova, pointing to her arm when asked on court how much being back in Melbourne meant to her.

“I cherish these moments. I love it here,” she added.

“It´s been a couple of years and I wanted it to be really meaningful to me. But we know it´s only going to get tougher.”

– ´Nothing will be handed to me´ –

The German found her service range at the start of the second and briefly led 3-1 before the unseeded Russian cranked up the decibel meter and broke back with a flurry of forehand winners.

Sharapova broke again, closing out the win with a booming ace and a huge smile for the rapturous crowd on Margaret Court Arena.

Sharapova, one of the highest earners in women´s sport, she suffered a string of early defeats after her comeback but has been working her way back up the rankings since.

She broke through to win the Tianjin Open in October — her first title since 2015 — and enjoyed a run to the semi-final in Shenzhen to start the year.

But she was guarded when asked if her new found-confidence could take her to a second Australian Open crown.

“Look, I think confidence comes with time and with match play and putting yourself in situations where you´re able to take those opportunities,” she said.

“I know that nothing will be handed to me or anyone. You have to work for every point in a match. It´s too far to tell.

“I have expectations because of my previous results in my career But I´m also realistic, and the process of coming back takes time. I keep building and learning.”

She got back into the world´s top 50 just before the year´s first Grand Slam and next faces either 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia or American Varvara Lepchenko.

Nawaz calls change in Balochistan a cruel joke

ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday asked his rivals instead of launching anti-government movement they should wait for general elections that were only four to five months away.

Speaking to media outside the Accountability Court where he appeared to attend hearing of corruption reference against him, said timing of Tahirul Qadri’s return from Canada was meaningful.

“You will find answers of many question yourself if you think about the purpose of anti-government movement,” said he referring to the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s protest scheduled to be held on January 17 over Model Town Tragedy.

The Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Isnaf have also assured Qadri of their support.

He said the government has only a few months left, adding that he was unable to understand the purpose of the protests.

Asked to comment on change of government in Balochistan, the former prime minister called the recent political development in the province a cruel joke with the nation.

He said a person who bagged 500 votes in the election and almost got his surety bonds confiscated was made chief minister of the province.

Nawaz Sharif said he has convened a meeting that would also be attended by Baloch leadership to discuss the ongoing situation.

Journalist Panel wins NPC elections 2018-19 secured all seats except the secretary finance seat..

ISLAMABAD: The Journalist Panel swept the National Press Club elections on Saturday and secured all seats except the secretary finance seat.

The panel’s Tariq Mehmood Chaudhry was elected president with 989 votes while Shakeel Anjum was elected general secretary after securing 1,225 votes. His opponent, Sami Ibrahim got 650 votes.




The victorious panel has been in power for ten years.


The Azad Panel’s Nausheen Yousaf was elected secretary finance with 1,013 votes while her opponent Shakir Solangi received 848 votes.Shakeel Qarar, the presidential candidate of the Azad Panel, put up a good fight and secured 978 votes.

The Azad Group has alleged the election committee deprived it of its mandate.

The Journalist Panel’s Asif Bashir Chaudhry, Bilal Dar and Khawaja Kashif Rafique were elected as vice presidents while Maira Imran of the same panel was elected on the vice president woman seat by getting 943 votes.

All seats of the governing body were also won by this panel.

Floor at Indonesia’s stock exchange collapses, 20 injured

A floor at Indonesia’s stock exchange collapsed into the building’s lobby on Monday, injuring at least 20 people according to officials, as victims were carried out on stretchers.

Part of the floor on the first level gave way, sending a cascade of debris crashing onto the ground level, a Jakarta police spokesperson said, adding that it was an accident and not an explosion.

The director of the Indonesian stock exchange, Tito Sulistio, said those injured had been sent to hospital.

“At least 20 people have been injured, but I can definitely confirm there are no deaths,” Sulistio said on Metro TV.

Those hurt mostly sustained injuries to their legs and arms, Jakarta police spokesperson Argo Yuwono said.

Injured people lie on the steps outside the Indonesia's stock exchange after an internal floor collapsed.─AFP
Injured people lie on the steps outside the Indonesia’s stock exchange after an internal floor collapsed.─AFP

“The accident happened at the first floor… It’s a floor where many employes are passing by. There are some victims but they have been taken to a nearby hospital,” Yuwono told reporters.

He did not confirm how many people had been hurt in the accident, which took place in one of two towers in the modern complex.

Television footage showed several people lying on the ground and being carried outside the building, with crowds of panicked and screaming people being evacuated amid piles of debris.

Despite the chaos, stock exchange spokesman Rheza Andhika said trade continued as usual in the afternoon session.

The accident happened shortly after noon local time (0500 GMT) while the market was on its lunchtime break.

“There was a lound banging so people who were inside immediately ran outside of the building,” said Metro TV journalist Marlia Zein who was on the scene.

The Indonesia Stock Exchange is located in the centre of Jakarta, and the local office of the World Bank is also housed on the 12th floor of the complex, according to its website.

In 2000, powerful plastic explosives packed in the trunk of an old car caused a blast at the Exchange building, leaving 15 dead and several injured.

IHC again bars ECP from taking action against Imran Khan

The Islamabad High Court (IHC), once again, issued a stay order to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), barring it from taking action on notices against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for allegedly flouting election code of conduct.

The ECP had taken notice against Khan for addressing public gatherings and campaigning in different constituencies even after the announcement of by-elections in those areas.

Babar Awan represented Khan in court on Monday and said that politicians who are public office holders are not allowed to participate in election campaigns under Article 260, but Khan is not a public office holder. He is only a representative of the public and thus, he cannot be kept from participating in election campaigns, Awan said.

While presenting his arguments to the court, Awan also said that ECP notices that are sent out after an election has taken place are not effective.

After hearing the PTI lawyer’s arguments, Justice Amir Farooq, who was hearing the case, stayed ECP from taking action against Khan until further notice.

The case was adjourned until February 12.