Australia's Jesse Williams celebrates Alabama's BCS national college football championship. An NFL career awaits
Photo: Getty Images
HEROES & GOATS: Tomic, Turbo Durbo and 'Tha Monstar' dazzle with titles galore while Cibulkova disappoints everyone in Sydney
The world's tennis fans must be rubbing their eyes in disbelief. The turnaround in the controversial young Australian's performance and attitude of late has been nothing short of miraculous. Having endured a dismal finish to an incident-marred 2012, culminating in his dumping from the Davis Cup team and a plummet down the tour rankings, Tomic has thus far enjoyed the shiniest of golden summers. After upsetting the higher-ranked Tommy Haas and Andreas Seppi, then claiming the prime scalp of world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the Hopman Cup, Tomic continued his run of mighty recent form in the Sydney International, in the process claiming his maiden ATP title with a tough three-set victory over South Africa's Kevin Anderson. The win was his eighth in succession since the Christmas break and restores him as this country's top-ranked male player. Australian tennis' problem child may finally have matured and be set to fulfil his great potential.
Phil Hughes (Australia)
The once-discarded batsman took another big step towards reigniting his international career on Friday, scoring 112 with the bat after opening for Australia against Sri Lanka at the MCG. No other Australian has made a ton on debut in a one-day international, and Hughes is just the eighth player worldwide to achieve the feat, joining the likes of Desmond Haynes, Andy Flower and Martin Guptill. The New South Welshman, who would not have even been in the side were it not for the absence of Shane Watson and David Warner, took full advantage on a good wicket against a weak Sri Lankan attack. His nearly flawless knock, one of great patience as the runs dried up in the middle overs, set up Australia's massive 107-run win over the visitors.
Jesse Williams (University of Alabama)
At 1.93m tall, a healthy 145kg, and sporting tattoos such as "Fear is a liar" and "I stopped checking for the monster under the bed when I realised the monster is me" all over his body, Williams is rapidly becoming famous in the US, capping off a fine second year as nose tackle for Alabama with a powerhouse display in the BCS National Football Championship to help the Crimson Tide claim their second consecutive college title. "Mr Monstar" also did his profile no harm earlier this year by tweeting a picture of himself bench-pressing a lazy 600 pounds (270kg).
He looks a certainty to be a first-round NFL draftee, joining compatriots Colin Scotts and Hayden Smith as the only Australians to play in a position other than punter – and the first indigenous Australian at that. Not bad for a kid born on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait who didn’t start playing gridiron until he was 14 years old.
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE)
Durbridge's mastery of the time trial is such that has been touted as the heir apparent to Swiss maestro Fabian Cancellara, and he underlined his superiority in domestic ranks with a clear win in the elite men's TT at the national road cycling championships this week. But no one expected 'Turbo Durbo' to dominate the men's road race in such devastating fashion, thus drawing comparisons to reigning Tour de France champ Brad Wiggins. Durbridge was part of a seven-man breakaway that leapt clear of the peloton early in the 195km race and none of his fellow escapees could stay with him. Once it became clear that Durbridge had his rivals' measure, his Orica-GreenEDGE teammates controlled any potential challengers from the peloton, leaving the 21-year-old to solo to the finish line for a memorable win. Durbridge becomes the first man to hold both the TT and road race crowns since the races were first held together 11 years ago.
Edwin Kipsang Rotich (Kenya)
The Kenyan runner is certainly no prima donna. Not only was he tackled by a crazed spectator while leading the 10km Kings Race in the Brazilian city of Cuiaba, but he was very nearly wiped out a couple of times by accompanying police on motorcycles as they apprehended the attacker. Rotich calmly shrugged off the assault, neatly sidestepped the security, and, barely breaking stride, went on to claim the race. Puts some golfers’ tantrum-throwing over clicking cameras in perspective.
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Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia)
This may be a bit harsh, considering the Slovakian had great upset wins over 2011 Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova and second seed Angelique Kerber on her way to the Sydney International final against Pole Agniezka Radwanska, but really — a double bagel, and in less than an hour? Cibulkova’s effort was worthy of a qualifier ranked outside the top 200, not that of the world No.15. Let’s hope the tickets for the tournament decider were very cheap.
Jason Tovey (Cardiff Blues)
It's no Joel Monaghan, but Blues fly-half Jason Tovey still has a dog to blame for getting into a spot of bother with his teammates and coaches. Tovey was forced to pull out of Cardiff's European Cup game at French side Toulon on Saturday after his Labrador puppy ate his passport, an excuse that ranks just below 'My car broke down' on the totem pole of lame defences. The 23-year-old told BBC Wales: "Buster is always chewing things, but usually it's my sock and shoes. As soon as I saw the passport, I thought I would never get through airport security with it." His club saw the funny side at least, telling reporters Tovey is "in the doghouse" (chortle, chortle).
Jon Walters (Stoke City)
After heading home not one, but two own goals in his side's 4-0 hammering by Chelsea, one can only wonder at the state of the Stoke striker's mind as he stepped up to the spot in the closing minutes after a foul from the Blues' John Terry. Good — and bad — things tend to come in threes and, sure enough, Walters' penalty shot cannoned off the cross bar, making his 100th EPL appearance one to remember, though not quite as he would have liked.
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