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"It’s not acceptable from me." Nick Kyrgios apologises after mid-match meltdown, & more in News in 5.

– With AAP.

1. “It’s not acceptable from me.” Nick Kyrgios apologises after mid-match meltdown.

Nick Kyrgios knew he had to “cut the bullsh*t” as his on-court antics threatened to derail another Australian Open campaign.

The Australian No.2 was coasting to a routine second-round win over French veteran Gilles Simon on Thursday night on Melbourne Arena.

But as the finish line approached – up 4-2 with the break in the third set – the 23rd seed lost his way.

Two straight double faults from Kyrgios handed Simon a lifeline, with the former world No.6 gratefully accepting to force a fourth set.

In the aftermath, the Aussie directed his fury toward his player’s box, which included Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt.

“Of all the things you could say on break point, ‘stay tough’,” he bellowed.

“That’s what I get, every break point, ‘stay tough’ … wow.

“So creative, so creative.”

But rather than let the blip become a full-blown meltdown, Kyrgios hit the reset button to bounce back and score a 6-2 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory.

“I just put my head down,” Kyrgios said.

“I lost my way a little bit in the third set. I put my head down, I told myself ‘just cut the bullsh*t and just get to work’.

“I got the break at five-all. It was a good feeling to get through that.”

The 24-year-old Canberra native admitted it was the type of match he might have thrown away six or 12 months ago, but stopped short of attributing the turnaround to new-found maturity.

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“I was 13 in the world … I was all right 12 months ago. But, yeah, possibly,” he said.

“I did come back from two sets to love down on that court four years ago… but it could have gone to a dark place and I brought it back and I somehow scraped the win.”

After the match, Kyrgios was keen to make amends and said he would not direct them on what support he wanted from them in future.

“I was being a bit of a d*ckhead to them,” he said.

“I apologised as soon as I went back into the locker room. They don’t deserve that. They do a lot of things for me on and off the court.

“It’s not acceptable from me.”

Earlier, Spanish chair umpire Jaume Campistol handed Kyrgios a time violation as he served for the second set.

It drew a comical response, with Kyrgios imitating world No.1 Rafael Nadal’s fidgety service motion to illustrate his point.

“That’s part of my motion,” he said post-match.

“I started my service motion. There wasn’t any extracurricular activities I was doing before my serve to waste time.

“That’s the ref’s discretion whether I went over the clock or not. It really didn’t matter too much.”

Kyrgios joins John Millman and Alexei Popyrin in the last 32 as the only remaining Aussies the men’s draw and will next meet 16th seed Karen Khachanov.

He has a fiery history in his only previous clash with the Russian, a three-set loss at the Cincinnati Masters last August in which he was later fined for verballing abusing a chair umpire.

2. Snowy Mountains plane crash victims were ‘brave Americans’.

The three firefighters who died after their plane crashed while battling raging bushfires in southern NSW have been remembered as “brave Americans”.

Investigators will begin piecing together the events that caused the large aerial water tanker to crash in the Snowy Mountains region on Thursday afternoon.

The three firefighters died after the plane smashed into the ground and exploded in a “large fireball”, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

United States ambassador Arthur Culvahouse said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

“The brave Americans who died near Snowy Monaro died helping Australia in its time of need,” he said in a statement.

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“Thank you Australia for your sympathy and solidarity.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne paid tribute to the US firefighters and said she had passed on Australia’s condolences to Mr Culvahouse.

“Our hearts go out to their loved ones. They were helping Australia, far from their own homes, an embodiment of the deep friendship between our two countries,” Ms Payne said in a statement.

“… Thank you to these three, and to all the brave firefighters from Australia and around the world. Your service and contribution are extraordinary. We are ever grateful.”

Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will travel to the crash site to start collecting evidence.

“Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant stakeholders so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken,” the ATSB said in a statement.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Thursday’s lethal conditions showed the unprecedented fire season was “far from over”.

“We can’t thank people enough for continuing, not withstanding the conditions, to put their safety at risk to protect lives and property of others,” she said.

Fire danger ratings are forecast to drop on Friday as milder weather conditions set in across NSW.

Authorities will contact the families of the plane crash victims before they release their names to the public.

The plane, known as Zeus, was owned and operated by Canada-based company Coulson Aviation and contracted to the RFS.

The company’s owners are travelling to Australia and are expected to arrive later on Friday.

3. “We’re not holding back.” Charities have defended their handling of bushfire donations.

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Charities have defended their roll-out of bushfire donations amid accusations from politicians they have been holding on to millions of dollars.

NSW’s emergency services minister David Elliott has told charities to “pull their fingers out” and ensure money donated for bushfire victims is delivered immediately.

But they say the process takes time.

Australian Red Cross director Noel Clement said the charity is giving out $1 million a day, and will increase that figure, but needs to ensure the rest of the $115 million it has raised so far goes to the right places over the long term.

“We’re not holding back … it’s significant money we need to make decisions on,” Mr Cement told AAP.

The charity has given out $8 million of a planned initial allocation of $30 million which includes around 3000 grants of between $2000 and $10,000 for people who have lost their homes and $20,000 to families who have lost loved ones.

Mr Elliott on Thursday backed his frontbench colleague Andrew Constance who said he was “gutted” that only a third of the money donated to the Red Cross was being distributed swiftly.

“My message to the charities is ‘Pull your finger out’. This is not a time for us to delay – particularly while people are hurting so much,” Mr Elliott said.

Mr Constance has been helping people in his southern NSW seat of Bega in the blazes which have killed 24 people and razed more than 2000 homes across the state.

“People have given around Australia to the Red Cross so that it gets in the hands of people who need it most,” he told reporters in Batemans Bay.

“They can’t just sit there and expect Australians to keep donating to them and hold onto the money. We can’t have a drip-feed.”

But Mr Clement said the money can’t all be used immediately when decisions are yet to be made on rebuilding and other recovery measures which will take years.

The charity has already assigned $5million for its teams to assist with all disasters, $30m in grants, $1m for the bereaved and $18m for recovery over the next three years.

“There’s a whole range of options for the rest – rebuilding, mental health, we want to make sure the balance of that remaining $60m will be used to its best effect,” he said.

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“We’re looking at other needs for the medium to long term, so it goes out to people as they need support.”

He said before the initial $30 has been fully distributed, the charity will announce the next phase of its support.

The St Vincent de Paul Society said it had distributed more than $2.4 million of $12.5 million collected and it planned to speed up the response.

“Vinnies will not, and has never, kept funds from disaster appeals for any other work or cause,” the charity said in a statement.

“The process of assessing people and establishing their need does take some time.”

The Salvation Army said it’s been responding to the crisis for the past four months.

“To date, we have distributed $8.4m (80 per cent) of the $11m that has been received in funds,” it said in a statement.

“Over $42m has been pledged to The Salvation Army since the Disaster Appeal was launched on 9 November 2019.”

4. Scientists are developing a quick test for coronavirus.

Scientists are developing a quicker test to diagnose the coronavirus, as the death toll rises and Australia boosts its border protection measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy says the current test is a two-step process, but scientists are working on a one-step version.

“There is a test at the moment and we are getting a quicker one,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said coronavirus had been added as a listed disease, which allows the country to beef up border control measures.

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Wuhan, the sprawling capital of central China’s Hubei province, is the epicentre of the coronavirus which is thought to have started in animals before spreading to humans.

The outbreak has killed 17 people and infected nearly 600, Chinese authorities say.

Biosecurity and health officials checked passengers departing a plane from Wuhan after it landed in Sydney on Thursday.

All passengers were checked for fever and although no passengers were found to be ill, Professor Murphy said they could be incubating the virus.

“That’s always a possibility in any disease of this nature,” he said.

If the passengers feel unwell in the next few weeks they should visit their doctor and say they’ve come from Wuhan, Prof Murphy said.

Australia’s top medical officers from around the country are meeting on Thursday afternoon and again on Friday to ensure they’re up to date with the latest information.

5. Victoria’s wildlife gets $17.5m rescue package.

Vulnerable animals affected by Victoria’s huge bushfires will be supported with a $17.5 million initial rescue package.

It’s estimated 185 of Victoria’s species, many of them rare and threatened, have already been impacted by this season’s blazes.

The money will go towards food drops, treatment, rehabilitating habitats, ensuring protection from predators and research into affected species.

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“A number of species have been endangered … their habitat has been directly impacted by these fires,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday.

“People are genuinely grieving to see so many of our native species injured, so many under real threat and they’re very keen to see governments and all of our partners do more.”

Victoria is the second state to airdrop food into inaccessible, bushfire-ravaged regions in an effort to save starving wildlife.

A reconnaissance flight on Tuesday determined the immediate priorities and locations for the drops, while food is being made available to teams on the ground in Buchan and Mallacoota in the state’s east.

Zoos Victoria veterinary staff are staffing three wildlife triage centres and providing special pellets for kangaroos and wallabies, as well as their critically endangered cousin, the brush-tailed rock wallaby.

More than one billion animals are thought to have perished in the unprecedented bushfires across Australia, but the final extent won’t be known for some time.

Data published on Monday by the federal Department of the Environment and Energy showed 49 species had seen more than 80 per cent of their known or likely habitat damaged in the fires.

For a further 65 species, at least half of their habitat was affected.

The threatened species include hundreds of plants, 16 mammals, 14 frogs, nine birds, seven reptiles, four insects, four fish and one spider species.

The federal government has pledged an initial $50 million wildlife and habitat restoration package.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio called for the federal money to start flowing.

WILDLIFE AFFECTED BY BUSHFIRES

* Estimated 185 species statewide affected by fires this season

*19 of those are mammals

*13 are frog species

*10 are reptile species

*9 types of birds are affected

*29 aquatic species

*38 plant species have been hit *Victoria’s most endangered mammal, the brush-tailed rock wallaby is among those at risk

*The long-footed potaroo and large brown tree frog are also affected

Feature image: Getty.

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