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Play with Flair

The men’s 100m at London 2012
The men’s 100m at London 2012

Usain Bolt's failure to win both the 100m and 200m finals at the Jamaican Olympic trials last week has become a major talking point in world athletics. The hero of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was completely outclassed by his Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake, who was the victor in both events. The prospect of an Olympic upset is being discussed among fans and critics alike. Alarm bells are ringing. However, the regular followers of Bolt will know that he likes to save his best form for the biggest stage. The 100m world record holder will be looking to run significantly faster than 9.86 seconds when he lines up to start in London. There is no doubt that Bolt's attempts to break the world record again will be grabbing all of the headlines before the start of the games. However, with Yohan Blake recording a time of 9.75, the fastest time this year, the 100m final could be the most closely contested and fastest final ever seen at a major championships. At 22 years of age, Blake looks ready to stamp his authority amongst the sprinting elite. His rise to the top would not surprise those who have followed him closely. Now the fourth fastest man ever, he still holds the record as the youngest sprinter to run under 10 seconds, which he completed at 19 years and 196 days. ...

Centre Court at Wimbledon
Centre Court at Wimbledon

There is no doubt that, for many tennis fans, Wimbledon is the most highly anticipated tournament in the tennis calendar. The pristine courts, royal visitors and unconditional support from the masses on Henman Hill make the tournament unmistakable. Amidst the great frenzy, the tennis at SW19 has always provided moments that will long remain in the memory; the 1980 final between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, the dramatic finals between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and the 2001 victory of Goran Ivanisevic are firmly etched in tennis history. Yet, week one of Wimbledon 2012 has shown that the tournament is well and truly creating a new era; one with the Centre Court roof. Fans on Centre Court were no longer worried about the rain and fading light, but instead were treated to matches of the highest quality. ...

Wimbledon 2012: update
Wimbledon 2012: update

For those who read my latest post and then followed the first day of action at Wimbledon, you will have noticed that two of the names mentioned previously are already out of the competition. In my defence, it's quite a surprise that both Tomas Berdych and John Isner have been beaten by their first round opponents! So, I'm going to suggest two more potential threats to the top four's chances and keep my fingers crossed that day two will not upset any more of the Play with Flair predictions. ...

Wimbledon 2012: Who can stop the top four?
Wimbledon 2012: Who can stop the top four?

The start of men's draw at Wimbledon 2012 has been met with great anticipation. The developing rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has dominated discussion as well as the inevitable debate about Roger Federer's chance of winning 7 titles at SW19. On top of this, Wimbledon will provide the British press with the chance to scrutinise every aspect of Andy Murray's game before asking if it is finally his time to win. So, the men in the top four are grabbing all of the headlines and will continue to do so, but who else can stand in their way? ...

US Open final day
US Open final day

Fans at The Olympic Club in San Francisco should prepare themselves for a great US Open showdown today. Last year, the script was already written for an imperious Rory McIlroy to win his first major and come back from his Augusta disaster. Most golf fans would agree that McIlroy's skill and flair was simply breathtaking. However, this year will be different. With Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk tied at -1 and two shots ahead of the rest of the field, it could become a two-horse race. ...

Time for Lewis Hamilton to win.
Time for Lewis Hamilton to win.

There is much to discuss for those who have followed the 2012 Formula One season; it is an understatement to say that it has been a strange year of racing. Sebastian Vettel has not been able to replicate the same form that he showed last season and with no outright leader after six races, it is hard to pick a winner. For this reason, some are saying that this is one of the most exciting seasons in recent years. Yet, for others, the season has lacked any clear rivalry, with the biggest battle being between the drivers and their rapidly disintegrating tyres. The fact that Lewis Hamilton is still tipped by many to win the title should be an unusual choice when considering that he hasn't won a race after securing three pole positions on the grid. However, few would disagree that Hamilton has been one of the outstanding drivers of the season so far. ...

French Open reaches fever pitch
French Open reaches fever pitch

Since my last post, the French Open 2012 has already provided us with unbelievable matches and plenty of splendid displays from the tennis elite. In the women's draw, the biggest shock was the exit of Serena Williams in the first round. Since entering her first Grand Slam event in 1998, she had never lost at this stage in a major tournament. Virginie Razzano, the French number four, completed this astonishing victory after eight match points in an incredible 25-minute final game. After my comments on Monday, saying that Maria Sharapova's biggest obstacle in winning the career slam is Serena Williams; it should follow that Sharapova is now the outright favourite. If her first round demolition of Alexandra Cadantu, which ended in a 6-0 6-0 scoreline, is replicated on Friday then this must be the case. ...

Can Maria Sharapova win at Roland Garros?
Can Maria Sharapova win at Roland Garros?

 As one of the favourites to win the French Open title this year, Maria Sharapova has seriously put herself in contention to win the only Grand Slam that has eluded her. After a gutsy victory in Rome, against the reigning French Open champion Li Na, Sharapova yet again displayed the battling spirit that has made her a three-time Grand Slam winner. Yet, the question remains as to whether the former Wimbledon champion can conquer Roland Garros. ...