‘A 36-year-old shouldn’t be favourite for a tournament’

Roger Federer has cheekily played down his chances of winning a record 20th grand slam at this year’s n Open, saying he doesn’t think a 36-year-old should be favourite to win such a tournament.

Speaking two days before he opens his campaign for a sixth n Open title against world No.51 Aljaz Bedene (Slovenia) on Tuesday, Federer said it was only natural for him to be less optimistic late in his career.

“With age, I feel like I play down my chances just because I don’t think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament. It should not be the case,” Federer said on Sunday.

“That’s why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career.”

Federer won 2017’s dream n Open final against old Spanish nemesis Rafael Nadal after six months out of the game through injury, but he ominously described this year’s preparation into the first grand slam of the year as “perfect”.

“It’s totally different,” he said. “This year I hope to win the first few rounds and get rolling hopefully, whereas last year I was just hoping to win.

“It was more of a ‘let’s see what happens’ kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak [Djokovic] or Stan [Wawrinka] or others are going through this year.”

Federer went on to win Wimbledon and three ATP World Tour Masters events in 2017, propelling himself back to the world No.2 ranking after he dropped to No.16 at the end of 2016.

His lean run into his superb 2017 could be why he is playing down his chances of success in 2018. Federer knows that Djokovic (elbow) and Wawrinka (knee), like he himself in 2017, could still be dangerous this time around despite their ailments.

World No.1 and n Open top seed Nadal is also under an injury cloud with a troublesome knee.

Before he played in the Kooyong Classic last week Nadal hadn’t hit a tennis ball in a competitive fixture since he lost to David Goffin at the World Tour Finals in London in November.

“It’s like, let’s just see what happens. I’m not at 100 per cent [Federer thought in 2017], but you never know in a week’s time what’s going to be happening,” Federer said.

“If you’re in the draw, you give yourself a chance. That’s what happened for me last year. All ended up way better than I thought it would.

“It was the tournament of the year for me, no doubt about it.”

Newcastle Beachwatch with Dave Anderson: Saturday, February 24, 2018

BEACH WATCH Beachwatch: Saturday, February 24, 2018 SURF: Taken on Friday, February, 23, 2018. Picture: Dave Anderson.

Photo taken on Monday, February 19. Picture: Dave Anderson.

GIRLS RIP: Photo taken at Merewether on Thursday, February 15. Picture: Dave Anderson.

SURF: Jesse Adam four times winner Open Mens Division Merewether Surfboard Club 2017. Piucture: Davbe Anderson

BEACH: Ollie and Felix with dolphins at Merewether. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: The view at Merewether Beach on November 9. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: The view at Merewether Beach on November 8. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: The view at Newcastle Beach … Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Beautiful morning. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Chris Davis at Merewether on October 25. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Nick at Merewether on October 24. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Todd at Merewether on October 24. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Dawn at Merewether on October 23, 2017. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Erosion at Cliff. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Axel-Rose Curotta at the Mattara Classic. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Amelia Bourke at Merewether on October 20. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Amelia Bourke at Merewether on October 20. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Kite-surfers at Nobby’s. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Sunday arvo at Newcastle. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Merewether morning on September 21. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Dixon Park. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Nobbys Spit on September 20. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Stockton on September 20. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Gleaming grom at Merewether on September 19. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Hollow shorey at Pogos on September 19. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Heavy shorebreaker at Nobbys on September 18. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Backpacker surfer at Nobbys. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: The spit at Nobbys on September 18. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Morning SUP at Pogos. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Ski Paddle at Dixon. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Nobbys. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Cleaning at Merewether beach. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Ollie at Merewether. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Ollie Ryssenbeek navigates The Ladies on September 12. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Dixon Park on September 12. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Morgan Cibilic at Merewether training for the Junior Worlds on September 11. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Morgan Cibilic at Merewether training for the Junior Worlds on September 11. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Off-reef at Nobbys on September 11. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Paul Snow at Merewether. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Backside glide Merewether. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Dawn sets at Merewether on September 7. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Gulls at Nobbys on September 7. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Twin Peaks at Merewether on September 6. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Nobbys spit on September 5. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Sanding-up at Merwether on September 4. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Super Grom at Merewether on September 3. Picture: Dave Anderson

SURF: Father’s Day at the beach. Picture: Dave Anderson

TweetFacebookHUNTER BOATINGWindsNorth to northeasterly 15 to 25 knots, reaching up to 30 knots offshore during the afternoon and evening.

Seas1.5 to 2 metres, increasing to 2 to 3 metres during the afternoon. 1st Swell: Northeasterly 1 to 1.5 metres. 2nd Swell: Southeasterly around 1 metre.

WeatherPartly cloudy. The chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon and early evening.


Yesterday: Tenso, 12.18am; FPMC B Luck, 8.12am; SBI Capoeira, 10.35am; UBC Canada, 4.06pm; Wincanton, 4.30pm; Matisse, 8pm.

Today:United Halo, 4am; Century Wave, 5am;Elisabeth Oldendorff, 6.45am; Mariolina De Carlini, 8am; Ocean Prometheus, 8.45am; Oslo Bulk 5, 1.45pm; Golden Ace, 2.15pm; Maersk Marmara, 2.45pm; Ya Tai 2, 5pm; Shoyo, 5.30pm; Hyundai Samcheonpo, 7.30pm; Belle Rose, 8pm; Ivs Sunbird, 10.15pm; Sincere Pisces, 11pm.


Yesterday:Sti Onyx, 3.17am; Azul Integra, 7.58am;Olympic Glory, 12.45pm;Berge Hakodate, 1.52pm; Tenso, 9.45pm.

Today:Castellani,1am; Anangel Vision, 2.03am; Teizan, 3am; Helveita, 6am; Sonja, 9am; Matisse, 11.30am; UBC Canada, 12pm; Pacific Venture, 12.15pm; SBI Capoeira, 12.30pm; FPMC B Luck, 3.30pm; Wincanton, 9.15pm.

AIR QUALITYNewcastle Good Wallsend GoodBeresfieldGoodMuswellbrookGoodSingleton Very Good

‘Is this it?’: Chinan mother feared for her life

An n living in Hawaii has told how her frightened teenage son alerted her that a missile was apparently on its way.

Donna Smallwood, 49, was mistakenly warned of an imminent attack in an alert issued to Hawaii cellphone users about 8.07am local time on Saturday.

“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” The message also appeared on Hawaii television stations, according to news reports. The alert was officially cancelled about 38 minutes later.

The frightening mistake, which Governor David Ige later attributed to a state employee’s errant push of a button, prompted outrage and calls for an investigation.

Ms Smallwood said she thought “Is this it?” as she sheltered in a closet with her two children. While relieved it turned out to be a false alarm, she was angry about having been put through the fear in the first place.

“I’m so mad,” she said. “The emotional rollercoaster was something no one should have to go through, ever.”

“The things that go through your mind: Is this it?”

Ms Smallwood, a businesswoman and the administrator of the ns in Hawaii Facebook page, was outside her house at Ewa Beach, a Honolulu suburb, when she heard a siren sound from the golf course next door.

Inside, her 13-year-old son, Connor, was walking down the stairs saying, “Mum, I’m scared”.

He was shaking as he showed her a text saying a ballistic missile was heading for Hawaii and to seek emergency shelter.

Ms Smallwood said she was “freaking out on the inside” but trying to keep calm.

“I got my 11-year-old, Pierce, up and he was like, ‘Mum what’s this on my phone?’ ” She called her husband, Nick, who had not been notified. He “bunkered down with the guys in the clubhouse”.

Ms Smallwood and her sons sat in a closet until an n friend, Gina Ornellas, and children Noah, 14, and Sophia, 11, knocked on the door.

Thirty minutes after the initial warning, a friend married to a policeman posted that it was a false alarm.

Ms Smallwood said the ordeal was terrifying.

“Your mind goes 100 miles an hour, trying to problem solve: Is it real, isn’t it real, do we ring people, do we tell people we love them?”

Her curious 11-year-old was looking up statistics online about how many people could die if a missile hit.

Ms Smallwood, who is from Broken Hill, lived on the Gold Coast for 20 years and has lived in Hawaii for 15 years, said some locals had grabbed food from shops without paying. One neighbour shoved their children into a manhole.

She is angry the government didn’t have much of an emergency plan. “It was just a huge mess.”

“You think that you’re protected and that the government here will look after you and have all the right steps set in place, but they obviously didn’t.

“It’s very unnerving and makes me kind of want to go, I want to go home again now. I’ve had enough of this, this isn’t fun any more.”

Danielle Smith was standing on a beach with her husband and two children when a sea of mobile phones buzzed with news of the attack.

“Suddenly about 50 phones went off around me on the beach,” Ms Smith said from Hawaii on Sunday afternoon.

“Everyone’s just looking around me going, ‘What do you do? What do you do?’.”

Ms Smith, who works as a photographer for Fairfax Media in Sydney, had been on holiday for about a week-and-a-half with her husband, Nick Conrick, their eight-year-old son, Nixon, and 13-year-old daughter, Ebony.

The family had driven from their accommodation at Waikiki at 6am to catch a glimpse of the famous swell.

“We were pretty much helpless, standing on the beach just going, ‘What the hell do you do?'” Ms Smith said.

As reality set in, they desperately sought out locals for advice on what to do, but many were just as clueless. Eventually someone herded them into the local school, Sunset Beach Elementary School, where they “bunkered down”, with nothing left to do but wait.

“We were just sitting in there and literally it was just silent, no one was talking,” she said.

“It was just fingers crossed, I guess, just sitting there waiting.”

A spokesman for the military command said the warning message had been sent accidentally.

David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, said in a statement: “The public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future.”

Mr Ige told reporters the mistake was the result of human error and someone at the state emergency management agency pushed the “wrong button” during a shift change, CNN reported.

Images and postings on social media showed people flooding area highways, crowding into police stations and seeking shelter in concrete structures including parking garages. One unconfirmed Twitter posting showed a resident lowering children through a manhole in a sidewalk.

The US Federal Communications Commission said it was launching a “full investigation” into the mishap, which sent panic throughout Hawaii.

The incident happened amid high international tensions over North Korea’s development of a ballistic nuclear weapon.

North Korean President Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country’s growing missile weapon capability against US states or the US territory of Guam, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten tough actions against Pyongyang.

As the event unfolded, Mr Trump was wrapping up a round of golf at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

He returned to his resort, Mar-a-Lago, where the White House said he was briefed on the situation.

Hawaii, a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of about 1.4 million people, according to the US Census Bureau, and is home to the US Pacific Command, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and other elements of the American military.

In November, Hawaii said it would resume monthly statewide testing of Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens for the first time in at least a quarter of a century, in preparation for a possible missile strike from North Korea, state officials said at the time.

Mr Ige said the false warning was “a mistake made during a standard procedure at the changeover of a shift and an employee pushed the wrong button”.

At a news conference, Mr Ige and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi promised that no single person will be able to cause such an error in the future.

Mr Miyagi said a rule has already been put in place to mandate that two people be present before the button is pushed to alert for a drill or emergency.

He also said a cancellation message template would be created for such an error scenario so a delay like Saturday’s did not happen again.

The false alert prompted US military officials to scan systems that monitor missile launches; they determined almost instantly that there was no threat. But officials described confusion over whether or how the military should correct a state-issued alert.

Hawaii struggled to issue a comprehensive correction. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency transmitted its first “no missile threat” message within 12 minutes of the mistaken alert, but that revision only went out on the agency’s Twitter account.

It wasn’t until 8.45am that the agency was able to issue a stand-down message across the same cellphone and cable television networks that had spread the initial, erroneous warning.

By that time, officials from Hawaii including Democrat Tulsi Gabbard had taken it upon themselves to distribute stand-down messages on social media.

“What happened today is totally inexcusable,” Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat, said in a posting on his Twitter account. “The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.”

With Reuters, The Washington Post and Miriam Webber

Bushfire forces closure of Newcastle Airport

Masonite Rd Tomago bushfire. Pic shows a water bombing helicopter at work over the fire. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers MMH Bushfire threatening homes, property and livestock between Tomago and Williamtown. Picture shows fire fighters at a property along Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown.

A large bushfire burning near Newcastle, which forced the city’s airport to close and caused residents to shelter in their homes, was downgraded in severity to “watch and act” on Sunday evening.

Though the fire had begun to subside with crews “slowly gaining the upper hand”, strong southerly winds were expected overnight, pushing the fire north.

On Monday morning the fire was downgraded to ‘advice’ and was being controlled by the Rural Fire Service.

The Bureau of Meteorology had on Sunday issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds to Newcastle, with gusts averaging 60 to 70 km/h, while peak gusts could reach 90 km/h.

Almost 200 firefighters worked to contain the fire “ahead of hot conditions this week”, the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Sunday evening.

The fire, which has burned 1931 hectares of land, was given “emergency” status when it flared up at Tomago on Saturday, then downgraded overnight to “advice” level.

Strong southerly winds on Sunday returned the fire to emergency status, when a spot fire was sparked to the north of the initial blaze. Almost 200 firefighters continue to work on the Masonite Fire burning near Campvale & Williamtown, north of Newcastle. These crews will remain on the fireground overnight as they work to contain the fire ahead of hot conditions this week. #NSWRFS#FRNSW#NPWSpic.twitter苏州美甲/vjzQdjq3MN??? NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 14, 2018Emergency Warning: Masonite Rd, Tomago fire. This infrared imagery is looking south east over the Newcastle airport. The video shows the location of spot fires to the north of the airport runway. https://t成都夜场招聘/o5vERBAR4L#NSWRFSpic.twitter苏州美甲/f5Fi4U9DBc??? NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 14, 2018Masonite Rd Fire now at Advice. Conditions continue to ease. Firefighters will remain on the fireground overnight as they work to contain the fire. #NSWRFShttps://t成都夜场招聘/l60v534xuGpic.twitter苏州美甲/YH781GGZ41??? NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 14, 2018Tomago bushfire smoke chokes Richardson Road as wind starts to pick up. @nbnnewspic.twitter苏州美甲/VfPp0HJvT2??? Meredith Gibbs (@meredith_gibbs) January 14, 2018Gale force winds are expected along parts of the NSW coastal fringe today. A Severe Weather Warning has been issued: https://t成都夜场招聘/MSG9BOrwXQ. Check observations at https://t成都夜场招聘/T7xOVXXHiq. #Sydney#Illawarra#Hunter#MidNorthCoast#NorthernRiverspic.twitter苏州美甲/Dc8xcP6SfM??? Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) January 13, 2018It’s windy in Sydney. This just fell down. pic.twitter苏州美甲/8mjLUZHVOx??? David M. Levinson (@trnsprtst) January 14, 2018

This wheel’s on fire – the small measures keeping Sydney’s CBD in deliveries

Courier Paul Tubert at the Goulburn Street Courier Hub. The state government has established a free “courier hub” for courier companies to use. They truck goods into the hub, put them in a cage, and then use bike couriers to get the goods across the city. Thursday 11th January 2018. SMH photo Louie Douvis .Amid Sydney’s latest batch of transport woes it can be easy to overlook that sometimes the best-laid plans work out tolerably well.

When construction started on Sydney’s light rail line two years ago, authorities were keen to foreshadow the worst.

Traffic would be slower; the roads would be a nightmare; it might be best to delay your trip.

The thinking behind the campaign was to try to convince Sydney residents to avoid driving into the city centre whenever they could.

Two years on, the strategy seems a success.

“Traffic in the morning and afternoon peak is actually pretty good here in the city,” said Marg Prendergast, the co-ordinator-general of Transport Co-ordination at Transport for NSW.

“Your busiest time is midday, with all the deliveries.”

Those deliveries, however, remain one of the inner city’s main transport challenges.

Not only has there been an increase in the number of goods being delivered, but the government also removed 12 per cent of the city’s loading zones for the light rail.

The risk was that delivery vehicles, unable to find a loading zone, would have to circle for a park, adding to congestion.

One of the ways the government has tried to manage this risk is by encouraging delivery companies to use bicycles when the job allows.

To that end, the state government and the City of Sydney have for the past two years provided a free “Courier Hub” for mid-size transport companies to use in the Goulburn Street car park.

The hub, which consists of a few cages, lockers, and parking spots, allows firms a potentially cheaper way to deliver goods by car to Goulburn Street, where they can then be transported by bike.

“There are fewer cars in the CBD as a result of it,” said Ely Benchoam, the dispatch centre manager at Bonds Transport Group.

When the Herald visited the hub last week, car drivers were dropping off parcels – mostly for law firms – from the suburbs, which Paul Tubert, a bike courier of some 12 years’ experience, would carry through town.

“Sometimes it will be the major proportion of the work you do,” said Mr Tubert, of jobs originating or finished in the hub. “For the cars, it’s a nightmare for them to get into the city.”

According to Ms Prendergast, the usage of CBD loading zones has dropped 9 per cent during the day.

The transport challenge has not lessened – “most of our drivers have said they don’t like coming into the city,” said Mr Benchoam, “we’ve had occasions when they have refused to come into the city” – but it might mean daytime delivery patterns are shifting.

“We’re showing them the evidence,” said Roads Minister Melinda Pavey. “Then [delivery companies] are saying, ‘why do we have to come into the city between 9am and 1pm to fight with everybody else.”

Until the next new thing.

“In the future, ultimately we’ll have drones,” Ms Prendergast said.