Bernard Tomic denied tanking in his limp defeat to Andy Roddick. The third set suggested otherwise
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HEROES & GOATS: Bernard Tomic sparks John McEnroe's ire, Daniel Geale is the real deal and Mitchell Starc comes of age…
The Australian middleweight enjoyed the greatest moment of his career with a split-decision victory over German WBA super champion Felix Sturm in Oberhausen, Germany, making the Tasmanian the first Australian-born boxer to unify two major world titles in the same division. The fact that Geale went into the lion's den - fighting Sturm in front of his home fans - made his win all the more impressive. Now with two belts, Geale's only professional loss came at the hands of Anthony Mundine more than three years ago. Their careers have since taken vastly different paths and should they meet again, few would bet against Geale delivering on his pledge back in March to shut Mundine's mouth for good.
Brett Ratten (Carlton)
Few were surprised when the Blues opted to sack Ratten in the wake of their shock loss to Gold Coast but the coach's grace and dignity in a difficult situation was remarkable. He answered all questions from journalists with respect and honesty, and even praised the club's ruthlessness in what was an ideal audition for a coaching role - senior or otherwise - at another club. Ratten could easily have quit on the spot, leaving a caretaker to coach against St Kilda but his love of the club is such that he wanted to guide his players one last time. There aren't many sacked coaches who leave with their reputations enhanced but Ratten might just have managed it.
Hashim Amla (South Africa)
South Africa became the first team in world cricket to be no.1 in all three formats simultaneously, albeit briefly. This amazing record has come about in no small part due to the contribution of Amla, so it was fitting that the hirsute batsman played one of his best knocks to achieve the feat. Amla made 150 in the second ODI against England in Southampton, on a pitch that was offering plenty for the bowlers. His patient innings made him the fastest player to reach 3000 one-day international runs, doing it in 57 innings, trouncing the previous best of 69 innings set by Sir Vivian Richards. It was also the highest scores in ODIs between England and South Africa.
Mitchell Starc (Australia)
Bowling on the flattest of decks in Sharjah in temperatures north of 40 degrees would be enough to blunt the most experienced fast bowlers. But Starc, playing in just his ninth ODI, accepted the challenge head on against Pakistan in the opening one-dayer, and made his case for permanent selection with career-best figures of 5-42 from his 10 overs. The pick of his dismissals was a snorter of a delivery to Nasir Jamshed. Starc somehow managed to get the ball to rise sharply on a pitch that was giving little reward and Jamshed edged behind for Matthew Wade to take a difficult chance.
Ben Barba (Canterbury)
Barba helped the Bulldogs ensure their round 25 loss to Canberra was an aberration rather than a sign a form slump was on the way at the wrong time with his role in their 42-10 final round demolition of the Roosters at ANZ Stadium. The Dally M Medal favourite made a bust from his own 40-metre line through to the opposition 20-metre line before putting Josh Morris over for a try inside the first minute which set the tone for the evening. Barba scored a try of his own at the 54th minute, neatly grounding a clever Josh Reynolds kick before it crossed the dead ball line, and had a hand in two other second half tries, capping off a whirlwind performance. The victory secured the minor premiership for the Bulldogs, setting up a mouth-watering qualifying final against Manly on Friday night.
Liz Cambage (Tulsa Shock)
The young Aussie centre distinguished herself on the court in London (with a bronze medal) and off (with her Twitter backhander to Stephanie Rice) but the court of public opinion can turn with one misstep. In Cambage's case, her decision to pull out of the remainder of her WNBA club's season with just two days' notice, citing fatigue, put plenty of noses out of joint. The lowly Tulsa Shock are in a rebuilding phase and they were banking on Cambage to give them a much-needed boost. Now, it will never come. Club officials were conciliatory in their public statements but it is unlikely Shock fans will be as forgiving when (if?) their Aussie superstar finally returns to the club.
Bernie picked the wrong day to have a shocker against retiring US star Andy Roddick at the US Open, going down in three limp sets and winning just five points in the final six games. As Tomic was moping his way to defeat, veteran countryman Lleyton Hewitt was willing himself to an trademark five-set win over Gilles Muller across the other side of Flushing Meadows. US commentator John McEnroe was typically direct in his criticism of Tomic, labelling his non-effort a clear case of tanking. It was a charge the brash young Aussie fiercely rebutted but it will take more than strong words to rectify his reputation.
Tim Sheens (Wests Tigers)
The Tigers' failure to reach the finals in 2012 marks the 12th time Sheens has missed the finals in his last 15 seasons as a top grade coach. Granted, they had a wretched run of injuries throughout the season, and their state of mind wasn't helped by the passing of captain Robbie Farah's mother in June, but it's a record that won't be looked kindly upon when Wests' hierarchy sit down and discuss Sheens' future with the club. The Tigers have a stretch of missing the finals four years in a row between 2006 and 2009, but what saved Sheens from the axe on that occasion, rightly or wrongly, was his 2005 premiership win against all odds with a playing roster lacking depth. It remains to be seen whether that 2005 title can continue to save Sheens' skin now seven years on, particularly after missing the finals with a team that was favourite for the premiership before a ball was kicked.
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