Venus braves the weather to beat Brazilian, Vesnina stunned

The biggest upset of the day came when Elena Vesnina, fresh off her victory at Indian Wells, suffered a stunning 3-6 6-4 7-5 loss to world number 594 Ajla Tomljanovic.

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Williams told the Miami Herald she struggled with the windy conditions.

“It wasn’t easy out there, the wind felt like a gale force,” she said. “I never saw her before. I didn’t know what to expect. I’m very impressed with her game and determination, and that will take her very far.” Top seed Angelique Kerber also prevailed in her evening match, beating Duan Yingying Duan 7-6(3) 6-2.

Croatian wild card Tomljanovic led 13th seed Vesnina 5-3 in the third set on Thursday when a thunderstorm halted play and returned on Friday to finish the job, sealing the victory on her third match point to move into the third round.

Vesnina, five days removed from the biggest victory of her career at the BNP Paribas Open, committed a dozen double faults in the two hour, 12 minute match.

French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, whose opening match on Thursday was also interrupted, fared better than Vesnina.

The sixth-seeded Spaniard trailed 46th-ranked American Christina McHale 6-0 3-2 when play was suspended on Thursday but staved off a match point in the tiebreak before emerging with an 0-6 7-6(6) 6-4 victory.

Romanian third seed Simona Halep was pushed to three sets by Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka before advancing 6-4 2-6 6-3, while seeds Timea Babos and Roberta Vinci were eliminated.

American Madison Keys made quick work of Viktorija Golubic 6-1 6-2.

(Reporting by Larry Fine and Jahmal Corner; Editing by Frank Pingue/Peter Rutherford)

Sydney no strange name to China: Keqiang

Premier Gladys Berejiklian took to strengthening China’s love affair with NSW as she met with the country’s second most powerful leader in Sydney.

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“It’s an absolute pleasure to meet with you personally but also to welcome the provincial leaders,” Ms Berejiklian said, as she sat down with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during their first official meeting on Saturday evening.

Those leaders were able to have “very fruitful discussions” at the second China-Australia State/Provincial Leaders’ Forum in Sydney on Friday, she said.

China is NSW’s largest two-way trading partner in goods, and trade was understood to be high on the agenda during the brief 20-minute meeting with Premier Li.

The Emerald City’s appeal to Chinese tourists was also not lost on the premier.

“NSW and in particular Sydney are no strange names to the Chinese people,” Premier Li said, as he pointed out that he had stopped by the city on all three of his Australia visits.

Ms Berejiklian will return the favour in December to attend the NSW-Guangdong Joint Economic Meeting, it was later announced.

She will also lead a delegation to Guangdong touring business centres and tech hubs across the country in her first official visit as premier.

The trip would be a “clear sign of our continued strong friendship with the People’s Republic of China,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Education and tourism remain key trade sectors in NSW, with Chinese tourists spending $2.7 billion in the year to September 2016.

Chinese students represent more than 40 per cent of higher education international enrolments.

Victoria chase Sheffield Shield three-peat

Victoria head into the Sheffield Shield final against South Australia confident that their in-form bowling attack – led by Test paceman James Pattinson – can secure a record third successive state crown.

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The match, commencing Sunday, is a repeat of last year’s final, which Victoria won by seven wickets in Adelaide.

The Bushrangers are aiming to become the first side to win three Sheffield Shields in a row since Queensland completed the feat in 2002 – and the first-ever from Victoria.

The Vics are set to recall Fawad Ahmed after the leg-spinner took five wickets in Alice Springs earlier this month.

And in Pattinson, Victoria have arguably the form bowler of the past month in the Shield.

Pattinson collected 5-7 in a remarkable final-round spell a fortnight ago as Queensland were routed for just 61.

“Our attack is in pretty good form and have been the past few games,” Victoria captain Cameron White said.

“Having Patto (James Pattinson) back has been really handy for us.

“He was on fire in the last game, so I reckon he comes into this game peaking.

“Four games back into his comeback, he is ready to run the race of his life.”

Paceman Chris Tremain is also in form for the Vics, as is spinner Jon Holland, while medium-pacer Dan Christian ensures a balanced attack.

Though Victoria won hosting rights, they chose to take the match to Alice Springs due to a lack of suitable options in Melbourne.

The Bushrangers, however, seem at home in the Red Centre, having won four and drawn the other match there over the past three seasons.

South Australia have never played at the Traeger Park venue.

“The pitch looks pretty similar to the last few pitches we have had here,” White said.

“There is a bit of grass on the wicket at the moment.

“It is usually pretty flat here, and spins a bit later in the match.”

While Victoria are seeking to maintain their supremacy as Shield kings, South Australia are seeking to end a 21-year winless drought.

Despite scraping in to the final and suffering two defeats against the Vics this season, SA remain confident their bowlers can do the job in a match their opponents only need to draw.

“If we get enough runs to back the bowlers up, I’m sure we can take 20 wickets,” South Australia captain Travis Head said.

“We come in to this match relaxed after this week. Last year, after not being in a final for so long, there was a lot of excitement around Adelaide.

“We have played some good tough cricket in the past couple of weeks and we are ready to go.”

Cyclone Debbie turns towards Qld coast

Tropical Cyclone Debbie is expected to pick up pace as it continues to move towards the far north Queensland coast.

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The tropical low was moving relatively slowly when it was upgraded to a Category 1 cyclone on Saturday morning.

In its latest update on Saturday night, the weather bureau says it expects the low pressure system will adopt a steady west-southwest track.

Debbie is predicted to intensify and develop into a Category 4 by Tuesday morning, bringing wind gusts of up to 260km/h.

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Andrea Peace said a Category 4 would cause “significant structural damage, dangerous airborne debris and also power failures”.

Ms Peace said heavy rain in excess of 200mm per day was expected to develop on Sunday along the far north and central Queensland coast, as well as in adjacent inland areas.

“Abnormally high tides are also expected to occur between at least Lucinda and Mackay as the cyclone approaches the coast,” she said.

“Large waves may also develop along the beachfront so coastal inundation is likely and those highest waves will be on the southern side of the cyclone.”

A cyclone watch zone for residents living between Ayr and St Lawrence – including Bowen, Mackay and the Whitsunday Islands – remains in place.

A flood watch is also current between Cairns and Gladstone.

Ms Peace said the BoM predicted Tropical Cyclone Debbie would make landfall between Cardwell and Hamilton Island either on Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Earlier on Saturday BoM Queensland regional director Bruce Gunn would not rule out the possibility it could intensify into a Category 5.

Residents in the watch zone are being urged to prepare for a cyclone.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told people not to wait until Sunday night or Monday because it could “be too late”.

A decision about school closures will be made on Sunday following the second meeting of the Queensland Disaster Management Committee.

Co-ordination centres in Cairns, Innisfail, Townsville and Mackay have also been activated.

Townsville Local Disaster Management group chair Jenny Hill urged residents to familiarise themselves with the council’s evacuation guide to determine whether their house may be at risk of flooding.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services deployed 50 staff from its Disaster Assistance and Response Team to Cairns on Saturday afternoon to bolster local crews.

Reid’s form a plus for beaten Swans in AFL

An encouraging return from key forward Sam Reid was one of the few positives Sydney coach John Longmire has been able to extract from the wreckage of a stunning 28-point opening round AFL home loss to Port Adelaide.

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The Power had 22 more contested possessions than the Swans on Saturday and Longmire admitted they had few winners on the day.

One exception was 25-year-old Reid, who didn’t play a senior game last year due to calf and achilles issues.

Reid grabbed seven marks and kicked three goals at the SCG, the largest scoring contribution to the Swans outside of Lance Franklin’s 4.2.

“He was one of our winners I guess, particularly early,” Longmire said.

“He was able look really dangerous in our front half, he looked good and got his hand on the ball and got the score on the board for us.”

“He was a real positive to come out of the game considering how much footy he has lost.”

Longmire said former co-captain Kieren Jack ran out the game fine, despite not playing any of their pre-season matches.

Although Sydney fielded nine players with 31 games or less of senior experience, Longmire felt it wasn’t just the younger brigade who struggled.

“We didn’t have a lot of good players win their positions and that includes our experienced players,” he said.

“Maybe some of the younger kids struggled a little bit but we didn’t have a lot of winners for the whole game.”

Captain Josh Kennedy had 28 possessions and a double-digit tally of clearances but most of the Swans’ lauded midfielders were below their best.

Sydney have a six-day turnaround days before they face premiers Western Bulldogs in a grand final rematch.

“We’ll reflect and reset and get going again next week,” Longmire said.

“It’s a simple process, we’ve been thorough it before.

“We need to make sure we get it right this week.”

Swans midfielder Daniel Robinson will undergo scans on the shoulder he injured last season.