Birth­day boy gets Kookas home

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - LEO SCHLINK

WORLD cham­pion Aus­tralia is al­ready look­ing to 2018 men’s hockey World Cup op­po­nent Eng­land af­ter beat­ing Ire­land in In­dia.

The Kook­abur­ras started their World Cup de­fence with an open­ing 2-1 win over world No. 10 Ire­land on Fri­day in Bhubaneswar.

Blake Glovers’s open­ing goal off a cor­ner in the 11th minute was can­celled out two min­utes later by Ire­land’s Shane O’Donoghue, but Tim Brand scored the win­ner in the 34th minute.

The Syd­neysider, who de­buted with the Kook­abur­ras in June, was de­lighted to seal the vic­tory on his 20th birth­day.

“We played very well but so did Ire­land. Great crowd and I couldn’t have asked for any­thing bet­ter to cel­e­brate my birth­day,” he said.

Brand said Aus­tralia was al­ready look­ing ahead to its next match, against world No. 7 Eng­land, at 12:30am (AEDT) on Wed­nes­day.

“Eng­land is our next game and they’re al­ways a tough op­po­si­tion. They’re a great team. They’re all qual­ity. We’ll do our home­work and hope­fully get the win,” he added.

The score­line of its open­ing match didn’t do jus­tice to Aus­tralia’s dom­i­nance. The Kook­abur­ras led Ire­land in ev­ery key statis­tic. BERNARD Tomic’s re­ju­ve­na­tion is set to con­tinue next month af­ter the Queens­lan­der se­cured a Kooy­ong Clas­sic place along­side grand slam elite. Tomic, who over­came a sham­bolic start to the 2018 sea­son be­fore be­com­ing one of only two Aus­tralian men to lift ATP sin­gles ti­tles, has signed on for the Kooy­ong Clas­sic.

He will fine tune for the Jan­uary 14-27 Aus­tralian Open with at least two matches against op­po­nents, in­clud­ing grand slam win­ners Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic.

Wim­ble­don fi­nal­ist Kevin An­der­son is also com­mit­ted to the re­vamped Kooy­ong Clas­sic.

Tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Peter John­ston says Tomic’s el­e­va­tion was fur­ther ev­i­dence of an in­spired resur­gence.

Tomic, who lapsed to No.243 in May af­ter fail­ing to qual­ify at Mel­bourne Park last Jan­uary, is now ranked No.86 — and safely in­side the Aus­tralian Open’s di­rect cut-off.

Tomic used Rafael Nadal and Pa­trick Mouratoglou’s Euro­pean bases to grind his way back into shape.

The ef­fort paid off in Chengdu in Septem­ber, when he won seven matches in a row to win the ATP 250 event, top­pling world No.13 Fabio Fognini in the fi­nal.

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