Muller scythes past Querrey at Queen’s, Cilic next

The late-blooming 34-year-old chalked up a seventh successive victory on the green stuff as he beat the powerful American 6-4 7-6(5) to reach the semi-finals.

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Next in Muller’s firing line will be fourth seed Marin Cilic, one of three former champions to reach the last eight, who was equally impressive in dispatching American Donald Young 6-4 7-5 on another sunny day at the prestigious London club.

Grigor Dimitrov, who won the title in 2014, also made it through after a mid-match hiccup against young Russian Daniil Medvedev who needed shoulder treatment after appearing to injure himself while practising his smashing.

Bulgarian Dimitrov, seeded six, won the opening five games but made life difficult for himself before winning 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Medvedev, ranked 60, was a break up in the decider but Dimitrov hit back to win with something to spare.

He will face Spain’s 35-year-old Feliciano Lopez, who beat seventh seed Tomas Berdych 7-6(5) 6-7(1) 7-5, in Saturday’s semi-finals.

Muller had never won an ATP title before this year.

He opened the year in style by putting that statistic to bed in Sydney, and last week ruled on the grasscourts of Den Bosch where he beat serving demon Ivo Karlovic in the final.

Now, after beating Querrey, he is closing in on a third.

There was little between them and the match boiled down to one poor service game by Querrey early in the first set when Muller broke to love with a beautifully angled winner after chasing down a drop volley by the American.

There were no breaks in the second set although Muller had to fend off two set points at 5-6, the first after turning around a rally Querrey had been in control of with a crafty lob and the second with an unreturnable serve.

Muller, who cracked down 12 aces with a swinging serve that is tough to read, finished the job with a feathered drop volley.

“I’m going to play semi-finals here for the first time tomorrow. I lost in the quarter-finals for the two years, so I’m really happy that I was able to go one step further,” he said.

Muller confirmed he had pulled out of next week’s Eastbourne tournament to rest up ahead of Wimbledon.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

South Africa fight back to level T20 series with England

South Africa made 174 for eight with JJ Smuts contributing 45 and skipper AB de Villiers striking 46 from 30 balls.

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England will feel they should have won after being well- placed but they struggled in the closing overs after losing top scorer Jason Roy.

Opener Roy, who had been struggling for form, led the run chase with a fine 67 before he was given out for obstructing the field when scampering back to his crease, having been sent back by partner Liam Livingstone.

Roy ran across the pitch, placing himself between the fielder and the wicket and Phehlukwayo’s return struck his leg, leading to the appeal, which was backed by the umpire’s after video review.

Roy had shared a 110-run second wicket partnership with Jonny Bairstow (47) but with 29 needed to win off the final three overs, England fell short.

The hosts required 12 from the final over but Phehlukwayo, bowling yorker length outside the off stump, restricted England to singles off the first three balls and debutant Livingstone was run out after confusion over a second run.

Liam Dawson smashed the penultimate ball for a one-bounce four but the final delivery from the South African seamer beat Dawson and the tourists levelled the three-match series at 1-1.

It had been a strong bowling performance from South Africa with seamer Chris Morris, who removed the dangerous Bairstow after picking up opener Sam Billings early, providing pace and fire in his spell of 2-18 from four overs.

It was an entertaining game for the Somerset crowd, enjoying the first international contest at their ground since the 1999 World Cup.

“It was about the energy and showing the South African never-say-die, attitude…now we have a decider on Sunday” said De Villiers.

England skipper Eoin Morgan had no complaints about the Roy dismissal or the performance of his debutants Livingstone and seamer Tom Curran, who took three wickets.

“We want to see these guys play but we also want to win at the same time,” he said.

“It is disappointing to lose given the position we were in but South Africa bowled well at the end,” said Morgan.

The deciding match will be played at Cardiff on Sunday.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond)

Concrete barricades installed in Martin Place to stop vehicle attacks

Concrete barricades have been installed to block vehicle access to Sydney’s Martin Place following attacks in England and France in which terrorists deliberately drove into crowds of people.

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The barricades in Martin Place, between Phillip and Elizabeth Streets, are part of an ongoing review of security in public spaces, the City of Sydney said in a statement.

“The City of Sydney takes advice from NSW Police and state emergency services on issues of public safety, including the installation of bollards and barricades to block vehicle access in response to security concerns,” a spokeswoman said.

A NSW Police spokesman said the installation was not in response to any specific threat.

Concrete barricades have been installed to block vehicle access to Sydney’s Martin Place. (Channel 7)Channel 7

IS and Al Qaeda have encouraged followers to use trucks and cars as deadly weapons.

A truck-ramming attack, claimed by IS, left 86 people dead and injured hundreds in the French city of Nice in 2016.

IS-influenced terrorists this month ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing passersby.

The Martin Place barricades are a temporary measure while the City considers more permanent features, such as bollards, garden beds or other landscaping features.

“Barricades or bollards will be rolled out to other stages in Martin Place over the coming weeks after further consultation with NSW Police and emergency services,” the City of Sydney spokeswoman said.

NSW Police said the advice followed a significant amount of work around vehicle mitigation strategies.

The Martin Place barricades are a temporary measure while the City considers more permanent features. (Channel 7)Channel 7

Similar security measures were introduced in Melbourne earlier this month after a car drove down Bourke Street Mall in January, killing six people and injuring more than 30.

The incident was not terrorism related.

Temporary bollards have been installed in Federation Square, Bourke Street Mall and other busy public places.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew said the bollards would help prevent the threat of hostile vehicle attacks.

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Police considering manslaughter charges over London tower blaze

The deadly blaze that engulfed the Grenfell Tower block started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer and cladding on the building failed all safety tests, London police said.

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Police Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said the Hotpoint model, FF175BP, was not subject to recall and that the manufacturer was doing further tests.

“We now have expert evidence that the fire was not started deliberately,” McCormack said.

Police said both the insulation and tiles used in cladding at the 24-storey tower block failed all post-fire safety tests.

“Preliminary tests show the insulation samples collected from Grenfell tower combusted soon after the test started,” McCormack said.

Such were their concerns after the tests that the information was immediately shared with government to disseminate more widely.

“Given the deaths of so many people we are considering manslaughter as well as criminal offences and breaches of legislation and regulations,” McCormack said.

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Britain ordered an immediate technical examination of the Hotpoint fridge model, manufactured between 2006 and 2009, to establish whether further action needed to be taken, but said there was no need for owners to switch off their appliances.

Whirlpool Corp, the world’s largest maker of home appliances, owns the Hotpoint brand in the Europe and Asia Pacific regions. In the United States, the brand now belongs to Haier, following the Chinese group’s purchase of General Electric Co’s appliance business.

“We are working with the authorities to obtain access to the appliance so that we can assist with the ongoing investigations,” Whirpool said in a statement. “Words cannot express our sorrow at this terrible tragedy.”

The blaze, Britain’s worst since World War Two, has heaped pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, already fighting for her political survival after her party lost its parliamentary majority in a snap election on June 8.

When speaking about the 79 people dead, presumed dead or missing, McCormack said: “I fear that there are more.” 

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CIA knew in August that Putin sought to boost Trump: report

The intelligence shocked the White House and put US security chiefs on a top-secret crisis footing to figure out how to react.

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But amid confidence that Democrat Hillary Clinton still had the election in the bag and worries over president Barack Obama himself being seen as manipulating the election, the administration delivered warnings to Moscow but left countermeasures until after the vote, the Post reported.

After Trump’s shock victory, there were strong regrets among administration officials that they had shied from tough action.

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“From national security people there was a sense of immediate introspection, of, ‘Wow, did we mishandle this,'” a former administration official told the newspaper.

The Post said that as soon as the intelligence on Putin came in, the White House viewed it as a deep national security threat. A secret intelligence task force was created to firm up the information and come up with possible responses.

0:00 Trump ‘under investigation’ over Comey firing Share Trump ‘under investigation’ over Comey firing

They couldn’t do anything about embarrassing WikiLeaks revelations from hacked Clinton emails. The focus turned to whether Moscow could disrupt the November 8 vote itself by hacking voter registration lists or voting machines, undermining confidence in the vote tally itself.

Worried about making the situation worse, the administration put off retaliating, and instead delivered stiff warnings directly to the Russians not to go farther.

At least four direct warnings — Obama to Putin, spy chief to spy chief, and via top diplomatic channels — appeared to have an impact, officials told the Post. They believe that Moscow pulled back on any possible plans to sabotage US voting operations.

“We made the judgment that we had ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures,” a senior administration official told the Post.

Options to retaliate were on the table early: more crippling sanctions on the Russian economy, leaking information that would embarrass Putin diplomatically, and launching cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure were high on the list.

But Trump’s shock victory dampened the response.

Obama took modest measures at the end of December, expelling 35 Russians and adding to existing sanctions. He also, according to the Post, authorized a plan to place cyberattack implants in the systems of critical Russian infrastructure. But it remains unclear, the Post said, whether Trump has followed through with that.

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