‘Future of tennis’ Marta Kostyuk to face fourth seed next

Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk makes a forehand return to Australia's Olivia Rogowska during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP)
Updated 17 January 2018
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‘Future of tennis’ Marta Kostyuk to face fourth seed next

MELBOURNE: Teenage sensation Marta Kostyuk was hailed as the “future of tennis” Wednesday after she became the youngest Australian Open second-round winner since “Swiss Miss” Martina Hingis in 1996.
The 15-year-old was rewarded with an all-Ukrainian clash against fourth seed Elina Svitolina as her fairytale run at the year’s first Grand Slam continued with a win over local wildcard Olivia Rogowska 6-3, 7-5.
It had commentators gushing that Kostyuk was “the future of tennis” as she extended her win streak at Melbourne Park to an incredible 11 matches after lifting the Australian Open girls’ title in 2017 and coming through qualifying this year.
“This is the future, ladies and gentlemen. Fifteen years of age,” said former British number one Sam Smith on Australia’s Channel 7. “This is an incredible story. This is the future of tennis on your screen.”
Before the start of this week Kostyuk’s total career prize money was $6,733, but she already has plans for the bumper $142,500 pay day she will earn even if she loses to Svitolina in the third round.
“Maybe I will get presents for my family, first of all, of course, because I have big family,” she said. “And then for myself a bit. Yeah.”
Playing since the age of five and watched by tennis-playing mum and coach Talina Beyko, who once reached 391st in the world, in her player’s box on Margaret Court Arena, Kostyuk said she had been used to setting new standards.
“I think I broke some records every year so I feel OK about it,” she said.
In the first round she had dismantled Chinese number one and 25th seed Peng Shuai in straight sets in just 57 minutes.
The talented Kostyuk continued in the same vein against Rogowska, taking the first set in 39 minutes.
“I didn’t feel like she was 15 at all,” said Rogowska. “I feel she’s going to be a dangerous player when she grows up. Obviously she had some silly errors, I think with experience she’ll clean that up.”
Svitolina clearly knows what to expect when she faces her young compatriot on Friday.
“I little bit watched her first round,” said the world number four after coming through a three-set battle against Katerina Siniakova.
“You know, she has nothing to lose, she goes just for everything. You know, a little bit like a headless chicken.”
The youngster is managed by former player Ivan Ljubicic, Roger Federer’s coach, and said she was pleased to have such experience in her corner.
“He is always helping me, telling me what was wrong, even when I win,” she said laughing. “I am lucky to have his experience.”
And long hours of practice, she said, was the key to her success.
“Well, I heard a lot of times that I’m talented, and I know that,” she told reporters with all the swagger of confident youth.
“But I know that only talent will not help me to play good. So I can say that I’m working pretty hard.”


Philippine basketball team becomes a contender in Asian Games as NBA releases Clarkson

Updated 20 August 2018
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Philippine basketball team becomes a contender in Asian Games as NBA releases Clarkson

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Jordan Clarkson says playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals a few months ago was a “great experience.”
Being the flagbearer at the opening of the Asian Games may have matched it.
“It was probably one of the happiest days I’ve had in my career, in my life,” Clarkson said Sunday, a day after the opening ceremony in the Indonesian capital. “Just seeing everybody’s face, how happy everybody was.”
Clarkson has an American father, and a mother with Filipino roots, which qualifies him to play for the Philippines at the Asian Games. The team takes on tournament favorite China on Tuesday.
Clarkson lobbied for permission to play and the NBA, after a drawn out negotiation, eventually let him board a flight to Jakarta a few days ago.
Clarkson said leading the Filipino delegation into the stadium, cheered by a crowd of 40,000, offered NBA-level excitement.
“It was up there, definitely,” he said. “I haven’t seen something like that — ever. I didn’t know how big the Asian Games were until I came out of that tunnel.”
Clarkson has suddenly turned the Philippines into a basketball contender. He says he’s not facing pressure, although he knows a lot is expected. The embassy of the Philippines in Jakarta hosted a media conference on Sunday in a five-star hotel, and Clarkson was the five-star attraction.
“I don’t think there’s pressure for any of the guys,” he said. “You say all the pressure is going to be on me, but I don’t think so. We got a team full of players that are ready to come out there and compete.”
Clarkson repeated a half-dozen times that it’s an ‘honor” to play for his adopted country, and repeatedly called his good fortune a “blessing.”
It’s clear he’s given many Filipinos a boost.
“He’s an NBA player,” said Jaja Santiago, a Filipino volleyball player at the Asian Games who attended the media event. “He’s an inspiration for us and a morale booster. Maybe we can learn from him how to motivate ourselves, even if he can’t help us on the court.”