Watching Stanislas Wawrinka’s stunning performance at this year’s Australian Open has been one of the highlights of 2014 so far. If his victory in the final was arguably spoilt by the injury of Rafael Nadal, nobody could deny his brilliant win against four-time victor Novak Djokovic.
He has been a player in great form. Having seen Wawrinka play Nadal at the O2 finals in London at the end of last season, it was clear that he was a player brimming with self confidence. Nadal managed to beat him 7-6 7-6 on the day, but the Swiss clearly had the shots to really trouble the world number one. Just a couple of months on and Wawrinka has turned those missed chances into defining moments.
As 2013 nears its end, there seems to be an abundance of sports documentaries for fans to savour during the festive period. The recently released The Class of ’92 is just one ofthe documentaries that has been on the Christmas list of most sports fans. It looks back on the careers of the Manchester United youth team that went on to form the treble-winning United team in 1999. In celebration of this great film, which should be on your list of “must-sees”, here are two more programmes that have to be seen before the New Year celebrations are over.
Keane and Viera: Best of Enemies
Two Premier League greats, two fierce competitors and one fractious rivalry. This is a must-see documentary for all football fans as Roy Keane and Patrick Viera are reunited to look back on their infamous dual. Continue reading →
This season marks ten years since Arsenal won the League title at their invincible best and Saturday’s 4-1 win at Norwich had the same flair and prowess of Arsenal’s past. After a disappointing home defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season Arsene Wenger’s side has blossomed into title contention. Seven games on and Arsenal have surprised everyone by heading the Premier League table.
At the Emirates on Saturday, the home team’s attacking play was purposeful, creative and clinical, as has been the case throughout this season. Wenger’s side entertained the crowd with their team play as his attacking players wove together exquisite passes to expose the Norwich City defence. Continue reading →
It was this time last year that London 2012 began its Paralympic legacy, with record crowds coming together for an inspiring two weeks of sport. Olympic fever had swept the nation and sporting fans were all hoping that the Paralympics would continue the party.
The Paralympics more than delivered. I visited the Olympic stadium on “Thrilling Thursday” and witnessed an unparalleled sporting atmosphere. It was electric. (Read the article here)
This was just one night amongst a fortnight of incredible stories. However, Alex Zanardi’s victory in the handcycling at Brands Hatch was one of the great moments of the games. The Italian’s story is made for a Hollywood script. His life journey has been epic and courageous but at last year’s Paralympics, his sporting journey reached its pinnacle.
Zanardi raced in the world of motorsport for a decade. He was a charming character, respected by his peers during his brief spells in Formula One and, in CART racing, Zanardi proved himself to be a winner. His “donut” celebrations became infamous with fans across America.
It was in 2001 that he experienced the devastating crash that resulted in both of his legs being amputated. The charismatic Italian almost lost his life but has never let that accident thwart his love of racing. He helped to design his own custom-made prosthetic legs so that he could return to the track. His positivity and determination never waivered and, in 2006, he won his first race since his crash in the World Touring Car Championship.
Zanardi’s handcycling career began in 2007, when after only a few weeks of training he raced his first marathon in New York and finished in fourth place. It was soon after that he continued to cycle and made the London 2012 Paralympics his target.
Fast forward to 2012 and Zanardi returned to Brands Hatch looking for Paralympic glory. The setting was perfect, the Italian had raced before at Brands Hatch, but never won a race in his car. Returning to the famous motorsport circuit in his handcycle, he won the hearts of the nation as he claimed gold in both the individual H4 time trial and the individual H4 road race in emphatic style. With his handcycle waived high above his head and joyful tears streaming down his face, the Italian’s emotional post-race interviews and celebrations encompassed the spirit of London 2012.
What makes the buoyant Zanardi stand out from the crowd is his unrivalled determination to succeed in sport. His next goal is to win more medals at the 2013 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships this weekend. At 47, he is adamant that Rio 2016 is his next target, and nobody should doubt him.
It’s been a vintage year at SW19. Favourites have fallen, the unknown talents have made their mark and now the home favourite Andy Murray has spectacularly won the tournament. Great Britain is ready to celebrate, after 77 years, they finally have a male tennis champion to lead the way.
The three sets were played almost impeccably by the world number one Novak Djokovic and Murray, but the final games of the match showed the sheer grit and determination that is needed to win the Championships.
It was a tense third set. The Serb had broken Murray’s serve and looked to take the match into a fourth set at 4-2. Yet, the crowd rose to their feet as the Scot was able to break back and stay in this gripping final set.
Murray won his service game with a stunning final point. Djokovic looked to hit a winning slice before the Scot burst forward from the back of the court to strike the ball past the 2011 Wimbledon champion.
Then at 4-4, came a superhuman game from Murray. His defence was astonishing. At the very limits of his defence, he was able to sprint towards the net and then keep his composure to pass Djokovic for another winner. The open-mouthed expressions of Hollywood heartthrobs Bradley Cooper and Gerard Butler spoke a thousand words.
The final points of the match, were just as thrilling. The eternal fighter Djokovic was able to play his best tennis to save three championship points. Both men were pushing each other to the edge, from one side of the court to the other. However, it was Murray, the best player on the day, who triumphed in this three-set thriller.
It has been a superb comeback from Andy Murray after losing in last year’s final to Roger Federer. This win was truly deserved. Now, tennis fans will relish the thought of a rematch at the US Open 2013. Has Murray taken the lead in this epic rivalry with Djokovic? We’ll find out soon enough.
This weekend’s build-up to the Grand Prix at Silverstone had British motorsport fans bursting with anticipation at the thought of a home victory for Lewis Hamilton. Unfortunately, for fans of the former world champion, their hopes imploded as fast as the rubber at the rear end of Hamilton’s Mercedes car.
For the drivers, today’s race has raised serious questions about their safety, as Pirelli are once again at the centre of a media storm. Fives tyre punctures over one race weekend will fill nobody with confidence. However, the high drama made the entire race unmissable viewing. Continue reading →
Rafael Nadal has just made Grand Slam history by winning his eighth French open title against David Ferrer. It was a disappointing final as Ferrer was completely outclassed (in three sets) by the imperious Nadal. The Spanish number two had little to cheer about amongst the drizzle on Philippe Chatrier. The final result was 6-3 6-2 6-3.
The first set was dominated by errors from both Spaniards, with Ferrer missing his opportunities to hurt the Spaniard. Meanwhile, Nadal’s backhand was troubling him, missing the line on several occasions. However, the twelve-time Grand Slam victor showed off his clay court prowess towards the end and clinched the first set.
The second set followed suit but as Nadal’s mighty forehand began to dominate play, Ferrer just couldn’t match the powerful display of his Spanish compatriot.
After a slight delay in the third set, Ferrer attempted to stage a fightback and looked comfortable at 3-3. Ferrer had the chance to break Nadal and lead the set 4-3 but failed to close the game. Unfortunately for the older Spaniard,this followed the narrative of this final; a final of missed chances.
When tennis pundits look back on this year’s tournament, they will remember the brutal semi-final matchup between Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the defining moment. It was a renewal of what is fast becoming another classic rivalry in men’s tennis. Previously, it had been Roger Federer versus Nadal. Now, the current rivalry between the Serb and Nadal draws the attention of tennis fans from across the world.
See one of the best points in the French Open semi-final below:
It was an another epic encounter between these two giants of the game that will not be forgotten. Djokovic was incredibly close to beating the Spaniard if not for some unlucky breaks throughout the match.
However, the final at Roland Garros will be remembered as securing Nadal’s place in the tennis hall of fame. Tennis fans have seen history made. At 27, and eight Roland Garros titles, the fear for his opponents is that he should have more titles in Paris to come.
It was apt that Usain Bolt was there to meet Nadal in victory. Two sporting legends of today, with pace, power and tenacity in battle. Let’s hope that the Spaniard can recover in time to make a great challenge at Wimbledon in a couple of weeks time.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s announcement this morning has sent shockwaves throughout the footballing world. 26 years, 38 trophies, 13 leagues titles; his retirement will be a great loss to football. In his 26 years at the helm of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson has achieved unrivalled success and his ability to continually build upon his previous squads is what has made him an anomaly in the game.
Ferguson is ,without question the most successful manager in the English game. His records are staggering; the United treble of 1999 and surpassing Liverpool’s 18 league titles are just two of his greatest achievements.
It is worth remembering the situation in which the soon-to-retire Manchester United manager took the reins at Manchester United in 1986. United were still awaiting their first Division One title since Matt Busby’s side won in the 1966-67 season, with Denis Law as their top goalscorer.
He dd not immediately bring success either, finishing in 11th place in two of his first 3 seasons. Fast forward to 2013 and the clubs position in global football is incomparable. Ferguson has left Manchester United in arguably the strongest position that the club has ever been in.
So, the question arise of whether anyone can possibly match the Scot’s success. He is arguably the greatest manager in the history of football, but who can surpass him? Here are my top 3 candidates of the moment: Continue reading →
This afternoon, tennis fans at the Monte Carlo Masters will be thrilled to see eight-time champion Rafa Nadal go for a ninth title at his stomping ground. He looks set to rule in Monaco again. Of course, it is only the world number one Novak Djokovic who stands in his way.
The scene in Monaco is set. The heavenly backdrop of the Mediterranean sea is apt as the two tennis idols get ready to show their divine powers on the tennis court. Continue reading →
With Manchester United’s firm grip on the Premier League title looking impossible to break, the race for Champions League qualification is arguably proving to be the more exciting conclusion to the 2012-13 season. Tottenham are flying high with Gareth Bale’s imperious displays and pundits are highlighting the realistic chance of Spurs finishing above Manchester City in the table.
Their victory over Arsenal last weekend was a major blow for their north London rivals, whose manager seems to be under real threat from supporters. In West London, Chelsea are the club constantly in the spotlight and are surrounded by negativity following the signing of interim coach Rafa Benitez.
Liverpool and Everton are not technically out of the race, but I think that the three London clubs are the most likely to take the remaining Champions League positions. Although, both of the clubs from Merseyside may play a crucial role in deciding which London clubs will finish in the coveted fourth spot.