Roof planned for U.S. Open’s Arthur Ashe stadium

The USTA announced a news conference for Thursday to detail the plans, which are part of a major overhaul of the venue, including the creation of two new stadiums at New York’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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Despite frequent calls for a roof, last year the organisation ruled out including one as part of the redevelopment, citing logistical issues.

Center courts at Wimbledon and the Australian Open have retractable roofs, while the French Open has announced plans to cover its main court.

“For certain reasons it’s great,” Andy Murray, the reigning U.S. Open champion, told reporters after advancing to the third round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. “For TV and stuff, it’s fantastic. Always good that you know matches are going to get finished.

“I don’t necessarily miss being rained off but rain delays and stuff, it used to be part of it; whereas now that’s kind of going away gradually.

“I don’t particularly like going from indoors to outdoors to indoors but it’s good for TV.”

Opened in 1997, the Arthur Ashe stadium has a 22,500 capacity, making it by far the largest tennis stadium in the world but some, such as four-times U.S. Open champion John McEnroe, argued a smaller arena with a roof would have made more sense.

The scale of the arena has been one of the main logistical challenges that has emerged from previous feasibility studies with the USTA previously saying a roof would be “technically complex and financially challenging”.

This year’s U.S. Open, which starts on August 26, has a Monday finish included as the official final day for the first time.

But the switch to a scheduled Monday finish, unique among the four grand slam events, was criticised by the men’s governing body the ATP.

(Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami, additional reporting by Steve Keating in Cincinnati. Editing by Ossian Shine and Frank Pingue)

Chelsea still chasing Rooney, says Mourinho

United have maintained that the 27-year-old is not for sale, but Mourinho said following a pre-season loss to Real Madrid in Miami on Thursday that they would continue their pursuit.

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“We are far away so we are not in England to know every detail but we are doing things in the correct way,” Mourinho told reporters in America.

“We made the bid and Manchester United have reacted. Let’s see what happens. But we can’t do more than we are doing now.

“We are doing things legally, making the official bid directly to the club, no interviews or comments or direct relations with the player, no contact, absolutely nothing.

“We are doing everything in an ethical way, so let’s see if things change,” added Mourinho, who was fined by the Premier League in 2005 for tapping up Ashley Cole prior to the defender’s transfer from Arsenal during his first stint in charge of the Blues.

Mourinho also said he had no interest in selling Brazilian defender David Luiz to Barcelona and was happy to be patient over Rooney, with Chelsea already boasting a strikeforce of Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba.

“There is no time limit,” Mourinho said. “We have our squad of strikers. We have identified the player as one we would like to have with us. We have done it in an ethical way and we are going to do that until the last day.”

ENGLAND FOCUS

Rooney has yet to appear for United in pre-season, having suffered hamstring and shoulder injuries, and his possible departure would leave the Old Trafford side short up front.

United manager David Moyes has yet to make a significant addition since taking over from Alex Ferguson, with hopes of landing Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas squashed on Thursday when the former Arsenal midfielder said he was not planning to leave the Nou Camp.

Despite training with United’s reserves to improve his fitness, Rooney was selected by England manager Roy Hodgson on Thursday for next week’s friendly against Scotland.

Rooney will join Chelsea players Cole, Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard in the England squad but Hodgson told reporters on Thursday that he would instruct his players not to discuss club matters once they assembled on Sunday.

“I do accept a duty of care,” he said.

“We’re not naive. Ashley Cole and Wayne are quite close friends. David Moyes must know that as well. If they weren’t speaking in a hotel, they would be speaking on the telephone.”

“I will try to make it clear to everybody, the Chelsea players and the Manchester United players and anyone else for that matter, that this is England.

“As far as we’re concerned, you can speak as much as you like to each other now but during these two or three days this is England, this is England against Scotland and, even more importantly, the matches beyond Scotland.”

(Reporting by Josh Reich. Editing by Patrick Johnston)

Bulldogs sink Dragons with late burst

Canterbury survived some Josh Dugan magic to maintain their charge towards the NRL finals with a 39-20 come from behind win over St George Illawarra on Monday night.

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Trailing by 12 points with half an hour remaining, the Bulldogs scored five unanswered tries – including a double to man mountain Sam Kasiano – to solidify fifth spot on the ladder.

For much of the night it looked like being the Josh Dugan show after the recently re-signed Dragons fullback scored a first half double and set-up another for Jason Nightingale during a withering burst by the home side.

Four straight tries gave the Dragons a 48th minute 20-8 lead, but when they botched a kick-off for the second time in the game, the momentum shifted violently in the Bulldogs’ favour.

The much-maligned Tony Williams did what ‘Dogs fans have been asking him to do all year when he rumbled over off a short Trent Hodkinson pass to start the rot, the halfback again the orchestrator when Kasiano locked it up just after the hour mark.

Two minutes later the Bulldogs were in the lead when Tim Lafai sliced through to set up Josh Morris before Kasiano and Williams secured their doubles to complete the ambush.

It looked like being a comfortable night at the office when the Bulldogs scored two tries in the opening 12 minutes, before the Dragons turned to Dugan – who on Friday agreed to terms for another four years in the ‘red v’.

With little else working for the home side, Dugan scored two brilliant individual tries, the first with two big right foot steps before a chip and chase on the stroke of halftime to give his side an unlikely lead.

He played the crucial role in Nightingale’s try just after the restart and when Sam Perrett’s missed intercept attempt gifted Daniel Vidot a four-pointer, the home side appeared in control.

“We probably let ourselves down a little bit … I think they had six penalties in a row which made it really difficult,” Canterbury coach Des Hasler said of his side’s mid-game slump.

“It was difficult for us to build momentum and then when we were down their end a couple of times we squandered a couple of opportunities.

“Once we got a bit of footy in the second half we were able to get on a bit of a roll.”

Dragons coach Steve Price was furious with his side, defeat ending whatever slim chance they had of making the top eight.

“20-8 up, we started to play like a footy team that was behind and that was the most frustrating thing,” Price said.

“We started to throw balls out of our arse as opposed to playing field position, kicking long.

“We didn’t play with any smarts at all.”

Hird denies being offered AFL plea deal

Essendon coach James Hird has denied the AFL offered him a chance to clear three of his Bombers colleagues by pleading guilty to bringing the game into disrepute.

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Hird, Bombers assistant Mark Thompson, football manager Danny Corcoran and club doctor Bruce Reid all had that charge laid against them by the league on Tuesday night over last year’s supplements saga, as did the club itself.

The Bombers and their officials plan to fight the charges.

It’s been reported that the AFL had proposed a deal under which Thompson, Corcoran and Reid would not have faced any charges, had Hird been prepared to plead guilty, but Hird emphatically denied that.

“That’s not true at all,” Hird told reporters on Saturday night.

“I’m not sure why that was reported.

“I’m unable to give the specifics of what was offered.

“But all I know is that I was charged and the club was charged and three other people were charged.

“But it was never put to myself or the club that if I took a guilty plea the other three or the club wouldn’t be charged.

“That’s totally incorrect.”

Earlier on Saturday, Bombers chairman Paul Little said Essendon believed some of the allegations on which the AFL have based their charges were way off the mark.

“We are fully aware that mistakes were made, particularly in the areas of management and governance, which have now been effectively addressed,” Little told a pre-match function.

“However the nature of some of these allegations go way beyond what we believe is the truth, in particular with regard to the use of illegal substances.

“We cannot let these allegations go unchallenged.”

The Bombers and their four officials charged are scheduled to face an AFL Commission hearing on August 26, although there is speculation they will instead seek a court injunction.

Little said everyone wanted the matter over as soon as possible and the focus to return to the field, but the Bombers were also determined to receive justice.

He said Hird, Thompson, Corcoran and Reid were people of outstanding character who had always believed all supplements used by players complied with the anti-doping code and weren’t injurious to players.

“But again, let me be clear, not just to the Essendon faithful but to the Australian Football public, there were shortcomings in internal management of the club and inadequacies in supervision of key individuals in certain areas,” Little said.

“We also accept that these failings occurred at the club and there may well be repercussions.”

Aurizon flags more job cuts by 2015

Australia’s largest freight rail operator Aurizon has flagged more job cuts as it deals with a growth slowdown in China.

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The company, formerly known as QR National, made a net profit of $447 million in the year to June 30, marking a one per cent increase from the previous year’s $441 million.

Still, Aurizon chief executive Lance Hockridge has earmarked $230 million in potential job cuts and asset sales during the next two years, following 921 voluntary redundancies during the past financial year.

“Job cuts are going to be an important component but it’s very broad ranging,” he told reporters on Monday, adding potentially affected corporate support and operations staff would be informed this week.

But Mr Hockridge said while Aurizon was operating in a “subdued growth environment”, concerns about a China slowdown hitting the mining sector were overstated.

“Even the most modest levels of growth translate into very large absolute numbers,” he said.

Morningstar equities analyst Ross MacMillan said a more modest seven per cent growth pace in China would still be a hurdle to Aurizon’s goal of raising earnings.

“The business is really entering a low-growth environment,” he said.

Aurizon paid out $96 million in voluntary redundancies in 2012/13 but it estimated the program would generate an annual benefit of $85 million to $90 million.

Another $11 million was spent on repairs after ex-tropical cyclone Oswald damaged the Blackwater and Moura rail line in January.

More optimistically, Aurizon forecast iron ore volumes in Western Australia growing by 21 per cent in fiscal 2014, following an 82 per cent tonnage increase in fiscal 2013.

The WA iron ore haulage business makes up 10 to 15 per cent Aurizon’s earnings, Mr Hockridge said.

“Yes, it is our intention to grow from there.”

Coal haulage volumes are expected to rise by five per cent during this financial year, following a four per cent rise in fiscal 2013.

The Goonyella to Abbot Point Expansion in Queensland’s Bowen Basin is also expected to drive revenue growth and higher coal revenues.

“We believe there will be continuing growth, albeit modest, in the northern Bowen Basin and that in turn will drive the demand for further port capacity,” Mr Hockridge said.

“Unless we have the rail capacity, there’s no point having the port capacity.”

Underlying profit, which excludes one-off costs, was up 16 per cent to $487 million in fiscal 2013.

Aurizon achieved statutory earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $685 million, up 16 per cent.

Underlying EBIT was $754 million, up 29 per cent.