POLL: How would you spend the Oz Lotto $100m? ?

A RECORD OZ Lotto jackpot of $100 million dollars has brought out the Newcastle punters and dreamers.
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Michelle McNeil from Aberglasslyn said she decided to take a chance on the $100 million because she didn’t win the $70 million OZ Lotto draw last week.

‘‘I could pay off the house, take my little girl on a holiday and help family and I would still have money left over, ’’she said.

Tonight’s $100 million OZ Lotto jackpot is the largest Lotto prize ever offered in Australia’s history.

It tops a $90 million jackpot that was offered in June 2009 which due to heighten player activity increased to a final Division 1 prize pool of $106.5 million.

However mathematicians calculate the chances of getting all seven winning numbers in this latest draw is one in 45 million.

Kristy Watts, 30, from Newcastle said she only ever purchased a Lotto ticket when the jackpot was more than $20 million.

She always plays her lucky numbers of 9, 11 and 4.

About 7.5 million entries are expected across Australia by the time entries close at 6.30pm today.

Robyn Hudson of Newcastle City newsagency is operating a TAB outlet for Melbourne Cup today as well selling Oz Lotto tickets.

She has in increased her staff from two to six people and anticipates that lines will be out the door at her Hunter Street Mall premises.

‘‘We never had a day where a $100 million Oz Lotto draw has coincided with the Melbourne Cup,’’ she said.

If a single Lotto player takes out Tuesday’s big prize it will rewrite the history books as Australia’s largest Lotto prize.

HOW WOULD YOU SPEND $100 MILLION?

1. Frances Johnson, Fern Bay

I’d pay off my house and book a holiday to England to see my aunty.

2. Hannah Wallace, Nelson Bay

I’d get a new visa card, buy a house and a puppy. I’d also book a holiday home to see my family in the UK.

3. Peter Talevski, Garden Suburb

I’d buy the Newcastle Jets from Tinkler. I’d also purchase several properties and a Ferrari.

4. Adam McAllister, Belmont North

I’d book a round the world trip and buy my favourite old car-the Mitsubishi Sigma.

5. Kristy Watts, Newcastle

I’d quit work and go on a long holiday.

WHAT YOU COULD BUY WITH $100 MILLION

1. A mansion in Charlottesville, USA is on the market for $96,500,000. The property is situated on 300 acres of land. There are 45 rooms including 8 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms. There is also a library, art gallery, home theatre and helipad.

2. The Indian Empress can be bought for 90,500,000. At 54 metres long, it is one of the world’s largest yachts. The vessel can house 32 guests and 42 crew members at the same time.

3. 11 diamond covered iPhone 4S’ worth $9,000,000 each.

4. 40 of the world’s most expensive car – the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

5. 117,647 pairs of Jimmy Choo shoes.

6. 1,250,000 bottles of Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne.

7. Everyone in Australia could receive $4.40.

HERE’S LUCK: Michelle McNeill from Aberglasslyn would pay off the house and take a holiday with her little girl if she won the big lotto prize. Picture PETER STOOP

TRADITIONAL: Kristy Watts, of Newcastle, always includes her lucky numbers in her selection. She only buys a ticket if the prize is over $20million. Picture PETER STOOP

CAR LOVER: Adam McAllister would be happy with an old Mitsubishi Sigma – and a trip around the world. Picture PETER STOOP

MAGNATE: Peter Talevski would buy the Newcastle Jets. Picture PETER STOOP

ANIMAL INSTINCT: Hannah Wallace’s new life would include a puppy if she won. Picture PETER STOOP

A GREAT NIECE: Frances Johnson has plans for a trip to England to visit her Aunt. Picture PETER STOOP

SHOPPING LIST: The 45 room mansion in Charlottesville wouldn’t leave a lot of change from $100m.

SAIL AWAY: The Indian Empess yacht is so enormous it can’t all fit in one photograph. Yours for a tad over $90m.

PURRR: The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is worth considering if you need new wheels to drive to the bank.

BLING BLING: Answer your diamond covered iPhone 4S, or have a rock star moment and throw it at the paparazzi in a hissy fit. You can afford 10 more if you win $100m.

TELL US WHAT YOU’D DO WITH $100 MILLION

Auctions return to spring favouritism

The auction of 5 Ethel Street, Malvern.In a positive sign for the residential market, more vendors are choosing to sell properties by auction. The Real Estate Institute of Victoria says the proportion of auction sales to private-treaty sales in Melbourne is trending upwards and providing the foundation for a ”better year” in 2013.
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The growth in auction sales comes hard on the heels of a 10-point improvement in Melbourne’s auction clearance rate since June.

In buoyant periods, auctions account for 30 per cent of Melbourne sales. In a sluggish market, the share of sales by auctions can dip below 20 per cent.

According to the REIV, auctions accounted for 22 per cent of 57,785 house and unit sales between January and the end of October.

Victorian valuer-general figures show auctions accounted for 24 per cent of 59,537 sales in Melbourne last year. In 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis, auctions’ share of sales was 19 per cent, while in the boom market of 2007 it was 31 per cent.

REIV spokesman Robert Larocca said the trend since June had been to an improving market, with more auction listings and sales compared with this time last year.

”The improving confidence should ensure that, from a transaction perspective, this year remains on par with last year or ends up slightly ahead,” he said. ”If the trend is sustained in the next six weeks, it will provide the foundation for a better year in 2013 in terms of transaction volumes and price growth.”

First National Lindellas director Dennis Dellas, who specialises in the Box Hill and Whitehorse areas, said more vendors were selling by auction.

”Last year vendors had no choice but to go with private sales because most auctions were a non-event,” he said. ”Since July it’s definitely changed – the auction is the way to go and there are multiple bidders out there.”

Melbourne has been called the ”auction capital of world”. The auction method of sale is particularly favoured in the inner suburbs because it creates urgency and limits the number of days properties are on the market.

Australian Property Monitors senior economist Andrew Wilson believes Melbourne’s market is being driven by ”a value momentum that started in the inner areas”. He said a generalised market recovery would be slow to occur because most recent growth had been isolated to mid to upper-end property.

Another real estate data company, RP Data Rismark, also doesn’t see a quick recovery pushed along by lower interest rates. Capital city house prices fell 1 per cent in October, following a 1.4 per cent increase in September, according to RP Data. It said home prices fell by 1.1 per cent in Melbourne and by 0.9 per cent in Sydney and Brisbane.

”Whether the October decline is a blip on the path to a recovering market or a sign of further weakness is yet to be seen,” said RP Data research director Tim Lawless. ”Other indicators are suggesting the market has gathered some strength.”

The auction clearance rate was on trend yesterday at 62 per cent from the 151 auctions reported to the REIV. The small number of auctions held reflects the impact of Melbourne Cup week on auction scheduling.

The clearance rate for last weekend’s bumper market has been revised down to 64 per cent (from 1128 auctions). There are 810 auctions scheduled for next weekend.

Report: Cheaper to buy than rent in 388 suburbs

More than meets the eye … the report on the affordability of buying compared to renting has sparked disagreement.Falling property prices and interest rate cuts have made it cheaper to buy rather than rent in 388 suburbs and towns around the country, a new report finds.
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And if buyers are willing and able to spend an extra $50 a week in mortgage repayments over rent, the number of suburbs where purchasing becomes a viable option rises to 1419, according to RP Data’s latest Buy vs. Rent report.

National research director Tim Lawless said the combination of steep price falls and significantly lower interest rates was creating new opportunities for renters keen to buy a property.

“For many buyers now may be a good time to either re-enter the market or buy their first home,” he said.

In the group’s last report in August, it was more affordable to buy rather than rent in only 238 suburbs.

“This result highlights the dramatic impact adjustments to mortgage rates can have on housing affordability in the marketplace,” Mr Lawless said.

But would-be buyers hoping to snap up a traditional house will be disappointed. Apartments accounted for about 75 per cent of the 388 suburbs where it’s cheaper to buy than rent.

“Across the capital cities, it is typically apartment-style housing where renting can be more expensive than paying a mortgage. The buy-in price tends to be lower compared with weekly rents, providing a narrower gap between mortgage payments and rental payments,” the report found.

Queensland, with 147 suburbs, and NSW, with 88 suburbs, offered the most opportunities for renters to become owners nationwide. South Australia (48 suburbs) and Western Australia (44) were next, while Victoria (17) trailled a distant sixth behind Tasmania (30).

RP Data said that the buy v rent equation was most favourable in regional areas, accounting for nearly two-thirds of suburbs where it was cheaper to buy than rent.

In Sydney, Rushcutters Bay, The Rocks and Macquarie Fields were among the 41 suburbs revealed as affordable.

Melbourne, by comparison, put in a dismal showing of just three suburbs, including Docklands, Carlton and Abbotsford.

Fortitude Valley, Oxley and the CBD made the list of 42 suburbs in Brisbane.

RP Data’s survey compared median asking rents against mortgage repayments based on a 5.9 per cent lending rate. It did not include additional buying or holding expenses such as council rates, land tax, stamp duty, owners corporation fees or maintenance costs.

The report has been criticised by industry operators who say the “theoretical” calculations bear little relationship to experiences at the coalface.

Buyer’s advocate Catherine Cashmore cites the findings for the inner Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, where the median value is said to be $360,868 for units and the rent is $475 per week.

“Anyone who knows the area knows that price would only buy a one-bedroom unit, while that kind of rent would get a small, two-bedroom house.”

RP Data said there are 5386 suburbs across Australia, with the affordable buy v rent suburbs accounting for only 7.2 per cent of the total.

Despite a recent rally in some capital cities, home values are still down 6 per cent nationally from their 2010 peak.Comment at BusinessDay

Cheaper to buy than rent in 388 suburbs: report

More than meets the eye … the report on the affordability of buying compared to renting has sparked disagreement.Falling property prices and interest rate cuts have made it cheaper to buy rather than rent in 388 suburbs and towns around the country, a new report finds.
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And if buyers are willing and able to spend an extra $50 a week in mortgage repayments over rent, the number of suburbs where purchasing becomes a viable option rises to 1419, according to RP Data’s latest Buy vs. Rent report.The full report with all the suburbs

National research director Tim Lawless said the combination of steep price falls and significantly lower interest rates was creating new opportunities for renters keen to buy a property.

“For many buyers now may be a good time to either re-enter the market or buy their first home,” he said.

In the group’s last report in August, it was more affordable to buy rather than rent in only 238 suburbs.

“This result highlights the dramatic impact adjustments to mortgage rates can have on housing affordability in the marketplace,” Mr Lawless said.

But would-be buyers hoping to snap up a traditional house will be disappointed. Apartments accounted for about 75 per cent of the 388 suburbs where it’s cheaper to buy than rent.

“Across the capital cities, it is typically apartment-style housing where renting can be more expensive than paying a mortgage. The buy-in price tends to be lower compared with weekly rents, providing a narrower gap between mortgage payments and rental payments,” the report found.

Queensland, with 147 suburbs, and NSW, with 88 suburbs, offered the most opportunities for renters to become owners nationwide. South Australia (48 suburbs) and Western Australia (44) were next, while Victoria (17) trailled a distant sixth behind Tasmania (30).

RP Data said that the buy v rent equation was most favourable in regional areas, accounting for nearly two-thirds of suburbs where it was cheaper to buy than rent.

In Sydney, Rushcutters Bay, The Rocks and Macquarie Fields were among the 41 suburbs revealed as affordable.

Melbourne, by comparison, put in a dismal showing of just three suburbs, including Docklands, Carlton and Abbotsford.

Fortitude Valley, Oxley and the CBD made the list of 42 suburbs in Brisbane.

RP Data’s survey compared median asking rents against mortgage repayments based on a 5.9 per cent lending rate. It did not include additional buying or holding expenses such as council rates, land tax, stamp duty, owners corporation fees or maintenance costs.

The report has been criticised by industry operators who say the “theoretical” calculations bear little relationship to experiences at the coalface.

Buyer’s advocate Catherine Cashmore cites the findings for the inner Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, where the median value is said to be $360,868 for units and the rent is $475 per week.

“Anyone who knows the area knows that price would only buy a one-bedroom unit, while that kind of rent would get a small, two-bedroom house.”

RP Data said there are 5386 suburbs across Australia, with the affordable buy v rent suburbs accounting for only 7.2 per cent of the total.

Despite a recent rally in some capital cities, home values are still down 6 per cent nationally from their 2010 peak.

Qantas hits back at Virgin over Emirates claims

Qantas has accused Virgin Australia of making a ‘‘thinly veiled attempt’’ to convince the competition regulator to reject its proposed alliance with Middle Eastern airline Emirates.
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In a strongly worded rebuttal of Virgin’s claims, Qantas said its rival was trying to ‘‘minimise Qantas International’s competitive position’’ so that what it termed the ‘‘formidable Virgin/Singapore Airlines/Etihad/Air New Zealand alliance’’ would not have to respond as vigorously.

Virgin has claimed in submissions to the competition regulator that a Qantas-Emirates alliance will make it harder for competitors to challenge the dominance of Australia’s largest airline on key routes.

But in its latest submission, Qantas has accused Virgin of a ‘‘gross exaggeration’’ in claiming that it already had a significant fare premium over Emirates and its other rivals.

Qantas told the regulator that the proposed alliance would not result in the two airlines having ‘‘the ability to increase fares’’. It argued that its average fares were ‘‘not materially different’’ than those charged by other full-service airlines and emphasised that ‘‘we are selling a commodity product’’.

‘‘The amount of capacity on the relevant routes means pricing needs to be set to attract the marginal passenger,’’ Qantas said in its submission.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is looking closely at the impact an alliance between Qantas and Emirates will have on fares.

Qantas has also taken aim at Singapore Airlines’ claims that it should look at alternative ways to turnaround its international operations.

The Australian airline said it had unsuccessfully attempted over many years to form an alliance with Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Malaysia Airlines to improve its fortunes.

It has also rejected calls from Air New Zealand, which has a large stake in Virgin, that the Australia-New Zealand route be considered on a stand-alone basis from the rest of the proposed alliance with Emirates.

Virgin and Singapore Airlines want the proposed deal – should it be granted anti-trust approval – to be granted for only half the 10 years sought by Qantas and Emirates.

Under the proposal, Qantas and Emirates will co-operate on passenger and freight operations on routes to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and New Zealand.

The ACCC has said it intends to make a draft ruling on the proposed Qantas-Emirates alliance by Christmas, and make a final decision in March.

The alliance stands a better chance of winning approval since the federal Transport Department gave its blessing and government ministers echoed calls for the deal to be approved.

Qantas’s response to its rivals’ claims was lodged before Virgin launched bids last week to take control of Tiger Australia and West Australian airline Skywest. The Qantas submission was only made publicly available by the ACCC on Monday.

Emirates has also lodged a submission echoing similar sentiments to its proposed alliance partner Qantas.

In a submission, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry has said it wants the United Arab Emirates government to issue a public guarantee that anyone traveling via Dubai will not “suffer any adverse consequences whatsoever” if they have an Israeli stamp in their passport.

The peak body wants the ACCC to make the guarantee from the UAE government a condition of the regulator granting approval for the Qantas-Emirates alliance.

Qantas has sought to allay the concerns by assuring the Jewish community that Israeli passport holders can buy tickets for Emirates flights and transit Dubai without requiring a visa.

The airline has also given assurances that anyone traveling on a non-Israeli passport but with a stamp indicating they have visited Israel will be able to enter Dubai.

States to eye online shopping for GST boost

State treasurers will this week consider calls to cut the GST-free threshold for goods bought from overseas online stores, in an attempt to bolster flagging revenues from the tax.
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Under current rules, products costing less than $1000 that are privately purchased from overseas are not subject to GST, sparking complaints domestic retailers face an uneven playing field.

State governments – which receive the revenue raised by the GST – also miss out on about $600 million a year due to the threshold, and this foregone revenue is projected to rise as online shopping takes off.

In a meeting of state Treasurers on Thursday, NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are expected to make the case for Australia’s threshold being lowered so that it is brought into line with other countries.

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird, who wants the GST-free threshold to $30, will raise the issue as a “key consideration” at the meeting, a spokeswoman for Mr Baird said.

Victoria’s Treasurer, Kim Wells, has also supported a lower threshold if Canberra can devise a cost-effective way of collecting the extra tax.

Any move to cut the threshold would require backing from all states and the federal government – and the Gillard government has so far played down the likelihood of a change to the threshold.

However, it is likely to come under renewed pressure to consider the issue from a high-level panel looking at how tens of billions in GST is shared between the states each year.

In a final report handed to the government last week, former premiers Nick Greiner and John Brumby and businessman Bruce Carter are expected to recommend that changes to the threshold to be considered.

A 2011 review by the Productivity Commission found the administrative costs of cutting the threshold were too high, but other experts dispute this analysis.

A Professor of Taxation at the University of NSW, Neil Warren, said the current situation was ‘‘unsustainable’’ because it was not a level playing field for local retailers.

‘‘At the present moment it’s small beer, but the thing is it’s a problem you need to address so you might as well address it,’’ Professor Warren said.

The simplest way to resolve the situation was to require foreign retailers selling into Australia to charge GST, he said.

Mr Greiner has also called for a debate on raising the GST’s rate from 10 per cent or broadening its base, but this was ruled out on Monday by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

‘‘We believe that the GST, by lifting it or broadening the base, would really hit people, particularly battlers, really hard. And that’s not a priority of this government,’’ Mr Swan said on Monday.

Telstra’s Chen back in the fold

Telstra has appointed its recently departed board member Timothy Chen as the regional head of its international group, signalling the Telco’s renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
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Mr Chen left Telstra’s board barely a month ago under mysterious circumstances. The publicly-stated reason for his departure was that he wanted to take an executive position in China.

It was only two weeks ago that Telstra chairman, Catherine Livingstone, said at the company’s annual general meeting that she was disappointed that Mr Chen could not continue as a director of the board.

In a dramatic turn of events, the telco’s chief executive David Thodey said on Monday that Mr Chen’s appointment was important for the company’s expansion strategy in the fast growing Asian region.

“Tim’s appointment increases the focus and urgency in growing our presence in Asia and realising the significant revenue opportunities in the region,” he said.

“We know that having deep insights into the Asian environment across our leadership team is a strategic advantage as we look to strategically grow our regional interests, particularly in network applications and services and expanding with our pan-Asian customers.”

Mr Chen’s predecessor at Telstra, Tarek Robbiati, left the company late last month to take a position at Flexigroup, a financial services and leasing company chaired by former Qantas chairman Margaret Jackson.

It is understood that Telstra approached Mr Chen immediately after Mr Robbiati’s departure , asking him to head up its Asian operation.

It normally takes eight to 12 months to appoint a senior executive at that level. Mr Chen’s prior board experience and business experiences in China is seen as a huge plus, according to a source close to Telstra. Mr Chen, who previously headed a marketing push by the American National Basketball Association in China — the second largest basketball market after the US — is credited with repairing a damaged relationship between the NBA and the semi-official Chinese basketball association.

NBA China’s business grew strongly under Mr Chen. A senior Chinese sports official described him as someone who understood the Chinese way of doing business who was less offensive than his American bosses, according to a Chinese media report.

It is understood that Mr Chen, a Taiwanese national of Chinese descent, enjoys strong connections with the Chinese government and has access to Chinese leaders at senior level.

Mr Chen also headed the Greater China operations of two blue-chip American technology companies, Motorola and Mircosoft and he was rumoured at one stage to be in line to take over the chief executive position of Google China.

Telstra owns the majority stake in CSL, a Hong Kong-based mobile carrier and owner of undersea cable assets in the region. It wants more contracts supplying telecommunications and data services to global companies in Asia.

Space and light help seal big-ticket sale

Top end… bidding proceeds for 7 Court Road, Double Bay. Top end… bidding proceeds for 7 Court Road, Double Bay.
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The top end of Sydney’s property market passed the spring recovery litmus test on Saturday when a Double Bay mansion was sold at auction for $3.1 million.

The new owners, who asked not be named, liked the ”position and style” of the four-bedroom house at 7 Court Road.

”We have been looking for a year to find something suitable in the area,” one said.

Vendor Shelley Griffin, the wife of the late Allco executive Phil Griffin, is moving to Woollahra where she recently purchased a $5 million Gothic mansion.

”I loved the sense of space and light in this house,” she said after the auction.

The overall impression is that the property is modern, sleek and luxurious but it lacks the personal touch of a family home.

The two-storey home sits on 429 square metres and includes a 7-metre lap pool, double garage, three bathrooms, study, family room and gas kitchen with high-end appliances.

The lower level is dedicated to living, dining and entertainment with a white travertine floor that reflects the natural light coming through a row of glass doors that lead to the pool outside.

Two of the bedrooms upstairs have a balcony that overlooks the pool and private courtyard while the other two bedrooms share a balcony facing Court Street. The master bedroom has a large walk-in robe and comes with an en suite that includes a spa.

Quoted at $3 million, agent Bernadette Berlyn of McGrath Edgecliff showed the property to more than 100 parties over the past four weeks. Five bidders had registered on auction day.

”This sort of interest proves that confidence is back in the market,” Ms Berlyn said.

Auctioneer Josh Larson took the first offer at $2.8 million in front of a crowd of about 25 people.

From there on four interested parties made their bids in increments of $50,000 until the property was at $3.05 million and officially on the market. With increments reduced to $20,000 and than to $5000, two remaining bidders battled it out until the hammer fell at $3.1 million.

The sale was conducted in conjunction with Sotherby’s International Realty, which specialises in the top market segment.

Sydney principal of Sotherby’s International Realty, Michael Pallier, believes there is no lack of buyers for prestige properties. ”If the property is priced correctly, it usually sells,” he said. ”While the falling interest rates have mainly psychological effects on buyers in this price range, they are looking for value for money.”

MERSEY HOSPITAL SERVICES

Healthscope chief medical officer Michael Coglin said yesterday there was a two-part plan to restart obstetrics at the privately owned hospital at Latrobe which also offers public services.
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The Mersey this month ended obstetric services and restricted the emergency department to treating serious cases on office hours Monday to Friday.

Dr Coglin said the short-term aim was to establish a panel of locum doctors who could offer obstetric cover for three months while a recruitment consultant looked for a full-time obstetrician.

Two doctors have agreed to join the panel but the roster was not ready and Dr Coglin could not say when it would be completed.

He also confirmed reports from hospital sources that two obstetricians were interesting in working for Healthscope in Tasmania, but not necessarily at Latrobe.

An obstetrician, Dr Foote, from southern Africa, began talking to Healthscope in August last year.

This was before the Mersey crisis and he agreed to fill an 18-month-old vacancy at the North West Private Hospital in Burnie. But working at the Mersey was a possibility. He is expected to start work in May.

“He signed a contract to come to Burnie so an 18-month search is over,” Dr Coglin said.

“We do not see a lot of point in robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“The idea that we should influence him to break his contract is something that we are not going to do. If he changes his mind, a problem is solved at Mersey but there is still a problem at Burnie.”

Dr Coglin said Healthscope was also talking to another overseas obstetrician who looked “a very promising prospect”.

But nothing was definite, and immigration, medical registration and other matters would take at least four months.

Dr Coglin said the locum panel would give 50 per cent obstetrics cover, allowing the one remaining obstetrician, Michael Saunders, to only be on call every second day.

“If and when we can identify a suitable group of locums, then services will be restarted. It will be done as soon as possible,” Dr Coglin said.

He said an international medical recruitment consultant employed to “scour the world” for staff had visited the Mersey yesterday.

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Sport briefs

Agassi is dethroned
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at Key Biscayne

[BB] KEY BISCAYNE, Florida – Andre Agassi was dethroned after a three-year reign at Key Biscayne but Serena Williams finds her crown still fits perfectly even after an eight-month lay-off. Argentina’s Agustin Calleri hammered 47 winners in a 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), triumph against Agassi yesterday at the $8.65 million WTA and ATP Masters Series hardcourt event, ending the 33-year-old American’s 19-match and three-title run in Miami. “I wish somebody would tell me how he hit so well,” Agassi said. “I raised my standard to stay in there. I was lucky to win two games in the first set. The guy was just making me play great tennis and I wasn’t coming up with it.”

Two-time defending women’s champion Williams breezed into the semi-finals by routing 73rd- ranked fellow American Jill Craybas 6-0, 6-1. She faces Greece’s Eleni Daniilidou for a berth in Saturday’s title match.

Rusedski in clear

LONDON – Greg Rusedski will be able to resume his career after the governing body of men’s tennis chose not to appeal against its own tribunal’s decision to clear the Briton of failing a drugs test. “The main thing is that we agreed with Greg to move forward and help him back into the game and we felt it was the right decision at this time,” the ATP’s vice-president of corporate communications David Higdon said yesterday.

Noriega retires

SYDNEY – Wallaby prop Patricio Noriega yesterday announced his retirement from rugby union after an international career spanning 13 years and two countries. Noriega, 32, played 24 Tests for the Wallabies after moving to Australia with his young family from Argentina following the 1995 Rugby World Cup having played 25 Tests for the Pumas from his 1991 debut.

Aussies in the money

ORLANDO, Florida – Robert Allenby defeated women’s world No.1 Annika Sorenstam and Stuart Appleby fired a final day low 66 to help their team to victory in the most lucrative interclub golf match in history yesterday. The $2 million, two-day Tavistock Cup battle between Orlando, Florida’s exclusive residential golf course estates Isleworth and Lake Nona featured 10 of the world’s top 50 players. And it proved a worthwhile couple of days for Aussies Allenby, Appleby and Craig Parry, who live at Isleworth as their nine-man team triumphed 14.5 to 9.5 even without celebrated neighbour Tiger Woods. The winning team received $133,000 a player for turning out when they would probably have been practising anyway as the Masters looms next week.

Ronaldo on guard

ASUNCION – Brazilian striker Ronaldo says his team will have to be prepared to make sacrifices to keep intact their unique record of playing at every World Cup. “This is a really difficult competition,” said Ronaldo, who is playing in the South American World Cup qualifiers for the first time. “Our team has always had difficulty qualifying but we have to get over this – if we don’t, we won’t go to the World Cup,” he said yesterday, a day ahead of Brazil’s match against Paraguay. “All the games are difficult but we have to get over the other problems – the travelling, the tiredness, the lack of understanding on the field.”

Ronaldo played for Real Madrid at the weekend, arrived in Asuncion on Monday and will be back in Spain in time for the following weekend.

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