…as GTA awards outstanding contributorsGuyana has the potential to become a major eco-tourism destination, and there is always room for growth.This is according to Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Country Economist Mark Wenner.Wenner made the comment while speaking at the Guyana Tourism Authority awards on Monday night at the Pegasus Hotel.According to Wenner, public/private partnerships are important for the industry to become sustainably viable. The IDB representative added that tourism stakeholders must decide what is it that they want for the sector, and then begin to work on achieving that goal.Meanwhile, as efforts continue to push the “Guyana – South America Undiscovered” initiative, the Guyana Tourism Authority has awarded eight organisations for their outstanding contributions towards making Guyana a tourism destination.Guyana Tourism Authority Board Chairman Donald Sinclair, while speaking at the event, congratulated the awardees on the 10th Annual Awards ceremony, and said he was happy to be part of this significant event.A section of the audience at the 10th annual Tourism Awards at Pegasus on Monday eveningAwards were presented in eight categories. Taking away the Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year prize was Surama Eco Lodge.The People’s Choice Award for Responsible Tourism was awarded to Cara Lodge while the Tourism Recognition Award was copped by Classic International Hotel.Additionally, Yupukari Village won the Most Outstanding Community Tourism Project; the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) or volunteer group was awarded to Visit Rupununi while Herdmanston Lodge received the Service in Tourism Accommodation Establishment award.Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) President Andrea de Caires, in brief remarks, noted that partnerships were really important in the tourism sector.On Monday, Business Minister with responsibility for tourism, Dominic Gaskin during the Budget debate said that the sector has faced many challenges and has not developed the way it should after 50 years of independence.Gaskin said he was hopeful that tourism would become a permanent item on all 10 Administrative Regions’ councils and they would make the right decisions that would result in their respective economy thriving.He gave an update on the accomplishments of the Ministry during 2017, highlighting that the Ministry’s Department of Commerce recorded an increase of approximately 20 per cent in the number of import and export licences processed, when compared to the same period in 2016.Meanwhile, in a statement on the 2018 Budget, THAG noted: “If tourism is to become a significant economic driver, then our approach to developing this sector must be multifaceted and the development focus, therefore, should be on attracting visitors as well as investment in the development of tourism products including accommodation, transport and amenities.”The award ceremony is part of Tourism Month activities which are being held under the theme, “Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development”. (Yanalla Dalrymple)
5 5 Arsenal players look dejected As well as this, Wenger’s side are the only team to have done the double over Leicester City this season – here is a selection of reaction from fans following the latter of those victories on Valentine’s Day. 5 5 Now, though, after some pretty mixed results, Arsenal have dropped all the way down into fourth spot – 12 points behind a relentless Foxes side and five behind Spurs. As Tottenham drew 1-1 with West Brom on Monday night to go seven points behind leaders Leicester City, the north London side were almost inevitably labelled ‘bottlers’ by rival fans.On Twitter many laughed at the Lilywhites reverting to their ‘Spursy’ type as they failed to find a way to beat the Baggies at White Hart Lane after Craig Dawson cancelled out his earlier own goal.The way some Arsenal and Chelsea supporters reacted you’d have thought Mauricio Pochettino’s side had let a lead at the Premier League’s summit slip.In fact, Spurs haven’t been top of the pile all season.The last team to be seated above the Foxes over their fairytale campaign was actually Arsenal.The Gunners, coming out of the hectic festive period, were in first place from December 28 until January 24 when Chelsea beat them 1-0 at the Emirates.At their highest point this campaign, on January 3, Wenger’s men were two points ahead of Leicester City, three in front of Manchester City, and six ahead of rivals Tottenham. But, straight after putting themselves back into the race, within two points of Claudio Ranieri’s side, they immediately lost two on the spin – to Manchester United and Swansea City, conceding five goals and scoring three. So the Arsenal fans who laughed at Tottenham should probably be taking a look at their own side and ask why it is Spurs and not the Gunners who are left as Leicester’s only rivals for the title. 5
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SACRAMENTO – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is learning that getting a major program such as his $222 billion public works plan through the Legislature isn’t as simple as the “action, action, action” mantra he is fond of reciting. That’s particularly true during an election year and after his popularity nose-dived in 2005, when voters rejected all four of his initiatives during the November special election. Democrats and Republicans have criticized at least some parts of the plan, and administration officials concede it will face changes. “We know there will be dialogue (between the Legislature and governor) that will change the exact mix of priorities,” state Finance Director Mike Genest told a legislative committee recently. The Senate’s leader warns that if a deal isn’t struck soon, the Republican governor could be forced to run for re-election in November without being able to claim credit for beginning to solve the state’s backlog of public works projects. “If this doesn’t get done before the (June) primaries and before we start our budget negotiations, we will never get it done,” said Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland. Schwarzenegger wants to spend $222.6 billion over the next 10 years to expand highways and intercity rail, upgrade levees, build more schools, prisons, jails, courthouses and reservoirs, and undertake certain other public works projects. Funding for the plan includes selling $68 billion in state bonds, which need approval from lawmakers and voters. The governor wants the first of those bond measures to go on the ballot this June. The rest would be spread out on ballots through 2014. The deadline for lawmakers to add bond proposals to the June ballot is March 10. If they fail to meet that deadline, getting a measure on the November ballot could be tougher, given the political pressures as campaigns for governor, legislative seats and other state offices heat up. Enacting a plan to start addressing California’s long-neglected infrastructure needs could be key to Schwarzenegger’s re-election chances. A poll taken by the Public Policy Institute of California found that the governor’s weak approval ratings improved after he announced the plan last month in his State of the State address. “It’s in his best interest as a candidate to give voters something they’ve been clamoring for for years,” said Perata. “He needs this.” But so do Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislature. Polls show lawmakers’ popularity is even lower than the governor’s, and Perata himself said 2005 was essentially a lost year legislatively. Democratic leaders want to show they can pass substantive legislation that helps the majority of Californians. When Schwarzenegger revealed his plan, he did so from a position that was much weaker than when he entered office in 2003. The next year, Schwarzenegger used his sky-high popularity and bipartisan appeal to push workers’ compensation reform through the Legislature and persuade voters to pass bonds that helped close a record budget deficit. His approval ratings have plunged since then, culminating in the rejection of all four of the measures he placed before votes in last November’s special election. He wanted to have more power over state spending, take redistricting duties away from the Legislature, lengthen the probationary period for new teachers and make it tougher for public employee unions to raise campaign contributions. Schwarzenegger’s poll numbers have improved somewhat since then. The Public Policy Institute survey found that his approval rating among likely voters had climbed from 38 percent to 45 percent since October. He also seems to be more flexible this time than he was in some previous negotiations with lawmakers. “The governor’s been fairly consistent since day one,” said Vince Sollitto, a Schwarzenegger spokesman. “He welcomes the Legislature’s involvement and input and understands there are other ideas that need to be considered in the art of reaching agreement and is optimistic that can be accomplished.” But Sollitto also said Schwarzenegger wanted to see a “long-term, comprehensive plan” approved. “Trying to do this piecemeal doesn’t provide the comprehension that’s needed,” he said. “But more importantly, it doesn’t provide the stability in funding that’s required for the type of projects needed to significantly reduce congestion …” Democrats aren’t eager to hand the Republican governor a major victory right before he runs for re-election, but they need do something to boost their own standing with voters, Perata said. “Our approval ratings are lower than the governor’s,” he said. “Together we would have a hard time getting elected most places in the world. If we can do something together, it will enhance his chances and ours.” But Democrats have staked out sharply different positions than the governor’s on financing for the public works plan and what the money should buy. They want bond money for parks, housing, port improvements, earthquake upgrades for hospitals and more money than Schwarzenegger is proposing for mass transit. They’ve also downplayed the need for new prisons, jails, courthouses and reservoirs. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu!tildelown!ez, D-Los Angeles, said recently that a third of the bond money spent on transportation should go to light-rail, bus and other forms of public transit. Schwarzenegger, he said, was proposing less than $100 million for transit, compared to about $8 billion for highways and roads. Nunez also said recently that members of his caucus didn’t want to sell more than $30 billion in bonds – less than half the amount Schwarzenegger wants to sell. Nunez said debt payments on a larger bond package could consume money needed for schools. Democrats also criticize Schwarzenegger’s request for a constitutional amendment that would put a limit on annual bond debt payments. They say it could cripple the state’s ability to replace structures destroyed by a massive earthquake or other natural disaster. Republican lawmakers have their own proposals, including a pay-as-you-go constitutional amendment that would require the state to set aside a percentage of annual state budgets to pay for public works projects. That would reduce the need to sell bonds, they say. “We want to see efficiency. We want to see accountability,” said Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. “Currently, in the (Democratic) proposals I don’t see all that. … If it’s not accountable to the public, I don’t see how we can go with it.” Perata has labeled the pay-as-you-go proposal a “nonstarter.” Other Democrats contend it could end up costing the state more than selling bonds. Lawmakers would need at least two Republican votes in the Senate and six in the Assembly to put together the two-thirds majorities required to place bond measures on the ballot. Nunez said drafting an infrastructure plan that could get those super majorities is a “tall order.” “It’s not going to be easy to negotiate this over the next three weeks,” he said. “(But) I am committed to getting this done, either in June or November.”
Donegal winner hits €33,000 jackpot with €1 bet on EuroMillions draw was last modified: July 10th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) There were celebrations in Donegal on Tuesday evening as one BoyleSports shop customer collected a handsome amount of €33,001 after placing a small bet on the EuroMillions, costing €1.The anonymous punter called into their local BoyleSports betting shop and selected numbers 7, 29, 36, and 41 for the EuroMillions draw that evening.When all four rolled out of the machine, the celebrations started in the county as the fortunate punter had defied massive odds as big as 33,000/1 to land the big prize.
The tranquillity of the newly proclaimed Vhembe biosphere reserve in Limpopo province. (Image: Mapungubwe) The imposing Mapungubwe Hill, where kings once held council. (Image: SA National Parks)Janine ErasmusFind out more about using MediaClubSouthAfrica.com materialSouth Africa added a sixth biosphere reserve to its tally when the Vhembe region of Limpopo province became one of 22 newly proclaimed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).The 22 new biospheres, located in 17 countries, were added to Unesco’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves during the 21st session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere programme. The total now stands at 553 sites in 107 countries.Unesco’s Man and the Biosphere programme addresses the impact of man on the environment by studying the social, ecological and economic implications of biodiversity loss. It then takes steps to minimise this loss through sharing of knowledge, research and monitoring, education and training, and multilateral decision-making.Biosphere reserves are nominated by their governments for inclusion to the Man and the Biosphere programme.Whether they are terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine in nature, all are experimental areas where different approaches to integrated environmental management are tested. This is important as it helps to deepen our knowledge of what works in conservation and sustainable development.With South Africa celebrating National Environment Month in June and focusing on climate change and the attitude of citizens towards the environment, the biosphere project takes on an even greater significance.Various activities are planned throughout the country to mark the occasion, including campaigns to boost awareness of the need for sustainable living, much tree planting, and conferences, workshops and information sessions.A number of important environmental commemorative days are held around the world during June. World Environment Day falls on 5 June, while World Oceans Day is celebrated on 8 June and World Day to Combat Desertification falls on 17 June.The other new world biosphere sites range from the sacred Mount Myohyang in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to the tiger reserve of Similipal in eastern India and the island of Fuerteventura off the coast of Spain, and Australia’s Great Sandy marine area.Vast biodiversitySouth Africa’s six biosphere sites are Kogelberg (added in 1998), Cape Winelands (2007), Cape West Coast Reserve (2000, with an extension in 2003), the Waterberg (2001), the Kruger to Canyons Reserve (2001), and Vhembe. This is a tshiVenda name for the mighty Limpopo River symbolising life.The new addition is situated in the northeast of Limpopo province. It is famous not only for its bird and animal life, but also for its rich cultural history, dating far back to the awe-inspiring rock paintings of the San people. Vhembe encompasses the ancient African kingdoms of Thulamela and Mapungubwe. The latter is one of South Africa’s eight world heritage sites and was inscribed on the Unesco list in 2003.Vhembe includes the northern part of the Kruger Park, the Makuleke Wetlands, which are protected under the international Ramsar Convention, the Soutpansberg and Blouberg bio-diversity hot spots, and the Makgabeng Plateau, which boasts hundreds of rock art sites.Economy in the region is driven mainly by agriculture. As it falls into the subtropical belt of the country, crops are usually fruits and vegetables. There is also a substantial cattle farming industry.Natural treasuresVhembe is preceded by five biosphere reserves that cover an amazing diversity of landscapes, plants and animals.The 100 000ha Kogelberg reserve on the country’s southern coast sits in the middle of the world heritage Cape Floral Region. Home to an extravagant 1 880 different plant species, 77 of which are found only in this region, the Kogelberg is richer than the South American rainforest in terms of sheer biodiversity. Economy is boosted by apple farming, commercial pine forests, and tourism.The Cape West Coast biosphere reserve starts in Cape Town in the southern suburb of Diep River and stretches up the west coast as far as the Berg River. Also encompassing parts of the Cape Floral Region, the reserve includes the Ramsar-protected Langebaan lagoon as well as Dassen Island, a penguin colony. The Koeberg nuclear power station falls within its boundaries. The main economic activities are fishing and agriculture.The Cape Winelands biosphere reserve includes a part of the Cape Floral Region as well as the world-famous wine-growing region. Here, too, lie the historic settler-founded towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Agriculture and tourism are the main sources of income.In the northern reaches of South Africa lies the Waterberg biosphere reserve, an area of some 400 000ha in Limpopo. It is an important catchment area for the Limpopo Basin, with four large rivers originating within its borders – the Lephalale, the Mokolo, the Matlabas and the Magalakwena Rivers. San rock art abounds, as does the flora and fauna of the area. The main economic driver is tourism.The Kruger to Canyons biosphere reserve is so named because it stretches from the Kruger National Park to the spectacular Blyde River Canyon. It is an important conservation area in South Africa because it also covers three biomes, or communities of plants and animals living together in a certain climate – the Savannah woodlands, montane grasslands, and forest. The economy revolves around mining activities, forestry, and fruit and vegetable farming.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Contact Janine Erasmus at email@example.com.Related articlesSouth Africa’s national parks World heritage in South Africa The Tour de Kruger: a wild ride Useful linksLimpopo tourismRamsar convention on wetlandsSoutpansbergVhembe district municipalityKruger National Park
A R25 billion mixed use development will create homes, retail opportunities and create an industrial park between Durban and King Shaka International Airport.The Cornubia mall, as envisaged by developers. (Image: Cornubia)Brand South Africa reporterPresident Jacob Zuma officially launched the government’s massive Cornubia development on Sunday. The R25-billion mixed-use development of housing, commercial and industrial sites is set to change the skyline between Durban and King Shaka International Airport.“I am hopeful that with integrated human settlement projects like Cornubia, we will be able to effectively eradicate a significant number of the informal settlements across various areas in eThekwini and across South Africa,” Zuma said, noting that the project would cost the government R25-billion over 20 years.Developers have integrated a public transport system that serves the entire development. (Image: Cornubia)Over 24 000 new homesCornubia is a mixed-use, mixed-income, 1 200-hectare development, with 80 hectares earmarked for industrial development and the rest for commercial, housing and other social and public facilities, including schools, creches, clinics, multi-purpose halls, police stations and post offices.It is strategically located between Durban’s wealthier Mt Edgecombe and Umhlanga areas and disadvantaged areas north of the city such as Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Phoenix, Ottawa and Waterloo.Situated some 15 kilometres south of King Shaka International, Cornubia will see over 24 000 new mixed-income homes being built over the next 10 years, 15 000 for subsidised housing and the balance for a wide range of affordability levels.What started as a joint venture between the eThekwini Metro Municipality and agriculture and agri-processing company Tongaat Hulett has since been adopted by the Cabinet as a national priority project, bringing in all spheres of government as official partners.Phase 1A of the development was completed in September last year at a cost of nearly R100-million, and the first 482 beneficiaries moved into their new homes in November. Construction of phase 1B is under way and promises another 2 100 homes at a cost of around R560-million.The first homes built at Cornubia will go to residents of nearby informal settlements. (Image: Cornubia)The units consist of two bedrooms, a lounge, a kitchen and ablution facilities – a far cry from the usual one-bedroom RDP starter homes.The development is expected to create 48 000 new sustainable job opportunities over a period of 15 years, and a further 15 000 during the construction phase.Zuma said the residents would also be linked to the city’s new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, with planned BRT routes linking Cornubia to areas including Umhlanga, Phoenix, the Dube Trade Port and the King Shaka International Airport nearby.‘We now have so much space’The first phase of Cornubia residents are being drawn from surrounding informal settlements, including Blackburn, Stonebridge and Ridgeview, as well as transit or waiting camps in Clermont.One of the beneficiaries, who moved into her home in November, is 66-year-old Lucy Xaba. After spending five years in Lindela, a waiting camp in Waybank, Clermont, Xaba finally has her own roof over her head.The home is a godsend to the pensioner, whose husband, a construction worker and the family’s breadwinner, died a few years ago. Originally from KwaSwayimane, in Pietermaritzburg, she had to raise her children alone, and made ends meet by selling potatoes.“Life has indeed been tough for me, but I am happy today because my suffering has come to an end. I never expected that I would ever live in a place like this,” Xaba said.Living in Cornubia was like returning to the promised land, said 51-year-old Inderlal Mothilal, who lives with his wife Mominbibi, 49, and their two children. The couple now earn a living by running a local tuckshop where residents can buy bread, milk and other essentials.Just a few doors down is the Muthia family. After 46 years of marriage, James and Sally Muthia finally have a home of their own. Originally from Blackburn Village – an old slum near Phoenix – the couple’s home is known by residents as having the best garden in the area. “My new home is my pride and joy, that is why I take pride in my garden,” said James.Added Sally: “My husband was always sickly, but now since we have moved to Cornubia his blood pressure is down and he has been feeling much better.”Living in a mixed community is quite nice, says 26-year-old mother of three Zanele Cele. Zanele lives in Cornubia with her father Zozwane Ngcobo and mother Eunice Cele, who are both unemployed.The family moved to Cornubia after living in a one-room shack in Clermont. “We now have so much of space, and a bathroom – it is really a different life that we are used to, and we love it,” Cele said.“Living with people of mixed races is very nice. We learn a lot about different cultures, and Cornubia is how South Africa should be, one big happy mixed family.”Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
A local court in Muzaffarnagar on Tuesday awarded death sentence to seven persons for firing indiscriminately at a group and murdering one person following a clash over a volleyball game eight years ago. District and Sessions judge Rajesh Bharadwaj found the accused guilty under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code, among others. They accused were also convicted under Section 25 of the Arms Act.Those convicted and awarded death penalty were identified as Sadiq, Sarfaraz, Shahid, Arshad, Rashid, Mumtaz and Farrukh.The incident took place in February 2010.According to details shared by Uttar Pradesh police, brothers Naseem and Khalil had got into a fight with some locals, the accused, during a game of volleyball in Harsoli village of the district. Following this, the accused persons allegedly barged into the house of the brothers “in a planned manner armed with guns and country-made weapons” and fired indiscriminately, said the note issued by the U.P. police. Shot five timesWhile Naseem, who was shot five times, died, his brothers Khalil and Raiyan, and nephew Shakeel received bullet injuries; the three were shot eight times. The incident had left locals terrorised, the court noted. A total of nine witnesses, including the three injured survivors, were produced in the case.
MOST READ LATEST STORIES US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Nevertheless, speculation is sure to keep swirling around Irving, with suggestions that the Knicks — who traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas on Thursday in what many see as a move to clear salary cap space — could be among the clubs that will try to land him.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next “And my focus this season is winning a championship with the Boston Celtics. Obviously, we had goals coming into the season, and the primary goal is to win a championship. So that’s where my focus is.”Irving can opt out of the last year of his contract to test the free agent market at the end of this season.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesIn October, he cheered Celtics fans by proclaiming at a team event that if Boston wanted him to stay that’s what he planned to do.On Friday, he sounded a more ambiguous note when asked if his mindset had changed. “Ask me July first,” he said.With the departure of LeBron James from Cleveland to the Los Angeles Lakers, Irving-led Boston were tipped to emerge as a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference a season after the Cavs denied an injury-hit Celtics squad in game seven of the conference finals.But it has been the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors dueling atop the conference in the first half of the season, with the 32-19 Celtics currently tied for fourth place, 5.5 games behind the Bucks.“Obviously, things this season haven’t gone as I planned,” said Irving, who is averaging 23.7 points per game. “That’s part of being on a team where you’re still trying to figure things out.”Irving did say that the Celtics remained “at the head of the race” for his services after this season, and in the meantime he’d prefer to not have the “distraction” of looking ahead.ADVERTISEMENT Moved to tears, Rudy Gobert feels disrespect in NBA All-Star snub PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts to a call in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)Celtics guard Kyrie Irving says he’s focusing on bringing an NBA title to Boston this season — and where he might end up after the 2018-19 campaign remains an open question.“At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for my career, and that’s just where it stands,” Irving told reporters at Madison Square Garden on Friday, as the Celtics prepared to take on the New York Knicks.ADVERTISEMENT SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes View comments Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Don’t miss out on the latest news and information.
The Cricket Association of Bengal’s (CAB) financial committee has disclosed that the state cricket association has a surplus of around Rs 3.5 crore this year.The amount was revealed after the financial committee met here on Thursday night.”We have had surplus of Rs.3.5 crore this year,” CAB Treasurer Biswaroop Dey said after the meeting.The cricket governing body also has got a profit of Rs16 crore from the International Cricket Council (ICC) World T20, which was held here in March-April.The iconic Eden Gardens had played host to the high-voltage India-Pakistan tie as well as the final which was played between the West Indies and England.Last year, the CAB suffered a huge loss and the members received a lot of flak for it.The CAB also announced that former Bengal skipper Gopal Bose will be feted with the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award at the annual awards function to be held later this year.
It might be argued that 36-year-old fathers of four have no business winning grand slam titles but try telling that to Roger Federer as the evergreen Swiss bids to claim a record-equalling sixth Australian Open crown in two weeks’ time.Federer will saddle up for a 19th time in the main draw at Melbourne Park, looking to frustrate ‘Generation Next’ once again and defend the title he won last year during a stunning comeback from knee surgery.No such queries hang over his fitness this year and if bookmakers are to be believed the other 127 men in the draw will be fighting for the scraps from Federer’s plate.WATCHOn immediate form, few could argue.Federer, seeded second, arrives for a first round match against mid-ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene after cruising through an undefeated run at the Hopman Cup.His major rivals, meanwhile, are either carrying injuries or returning from them, or in the case of ‘Big Four’ cohort Andy Murray, ruled out because of them.A magical 20th slam might seem a formality for a player who did it all in last year’s tournament with the shortest of run-ups, but on closer inspection, Federer’s path through the draw is far from straightforward.”The last eight years have just been…the best.”For @rogerfederer, family comes first pic.twitter.com/wp2a8tYW7L— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 12, 2018Danger lurks at almost every corner, with former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro, the man who beat Federer for the 2009 U.S. Open title, looming as threats before the quarter-finals.advertisementYet few would be surprised if the tournament ends in a repeat of last year’s final with Federer up against his great Spanish rival and top seed Rafa Nadal.The pair split the four grand slam trophies between them last year, with Nadal, at 31, finishing the season as the ATP rankings’ oldest world number one.FIT AND FIRINGLike Federer, Nadal has pared back his playing schedule to prolong his career but the strain still showed when he pulled out of the ATP Tour Finals in November with a knee problem after losing his opening match.He missed warmup events in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane but appeared untroubled in an exhibition match win over Austrian world number five Dominic Thiem at Melbourne Park on Friday.If fit and firing, 2009 champion Nadal will be hard to beat but needs to bring something new to the court if he ends up facing Federer, who won all four of their matches last year.Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/cOssUeXmSQ— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen)January 12, 2018The Melbourne crowds will throw their support behind the two grand slam titans but the younger generation of players probably wish they would just go away.Year after year the bright sparks and ‘Next Big Things’ have been denied by the ‘Big Four’ at the slams.Even with Murray and Novak Djokovic out of the frame for much of 2017 due to injury, ‘Gen Next’ once again failed to make inroads at the four tournaments that really count.Most bookmakers see third seed Grigor Dimitrov as the best chance among them to make a breakthrough in Melbourne, but still rate the Bulgarian lower than Djokovic, who brings a major query over his serving elbow, is seeded 14th and has barely swung a racquet in six months.While Melbourne Park maestro Djokovic will bid for a record seventh Australian Open title, those fans hoping for a shake-up of the establishment may look to 20-year-old Alexander Zverev after his stellar 2017.Like 22-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, fourth seed Zverev possesses a majestic game capable of toppling the very best but also has a propensity to crumble on the biggest stages.Grand slam success is seen as a matter of when, not if, for Zverev but the ageless Federer stands ready to thwart another youth-led insurrection.ALSO WATCH: