News from Sporting Agenda

 

  • Doubles to the rescue in Melbourne

    The scorching weather having been replaced by some much needed rain, and with it a coating of mud and dust which fell during a storm in Melbourne, leaving the outside courts needing to be power washed, the Australian Open is now well under way. However, with all British interest in the singles ended before the third round, it will be once again up to our doubles and wheelchair players to keep the flag flying. In the mens doubles, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski are always a potent threat, eleventh seed Joe Salisbury is progressing well and Jonny O’Mara is already through to round three. And with Andy Lapthorne still to come in the Wheelchair Quad events, where he has won the doubles on five occasions, as well as twice reaching the singles final, there’s plenty of cause for British optimism.

  • Tennis down under

    Following the emotion and excitement of November’s newly formatted Davis Cup, won so impressively by hosts Spain, the inaugural ATP Cup, held across Australia, proved equally thrilling, with Serbia, headed by Novak Djokovic, defeating Rafa Nadal’s Spain in the final in what is effectively the lead up to next week’s Australian Open. Meanwhile, across the Tasman Sea, Serena Williams has done her preparations for Melbourne no harm by winning the Auckland Classic, her first title in three years. Elsewhere, Britons Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund are currently looking for confidence boosting wins in their build up to next week, whilst Sir Andy Murray sadly misses out through injury. However, the terrible bushfires currently raging in Australia are a cause of concern for all, with many players donating to the relief efforts, but the resulting air quality remains a real threat to the event

  • 2020 vision for the sporting calendar

    As another incredible year of international sport draws to a close, it is time to start looking ahead to see what 2020 might bring. On the cricket field England are currently about to take on South Africa over four test matches, before heading to Sri Lanka, followed by a full summer of domestic cricket. After the thrills and spills of the recent World Cup, international rugby returns in February in the considerable shape of the Six Nations Championship, whilst England’s footballers host Italy and Denmark in March as they build towards the European Championships in June. The tennis calendar has as its usual New Year curtain-raiser the Australian Open, and hopefully with it the continuing return of Sir Andy Murray, as he looks to reclaim his seat at the top table of the game and have a tilt at another Wimbledon title. Elsewhere, the challengers are forming a disorderly queue to take on Anthony Joshua after he recently reclaimed his heavyweight world title. Meanwhile, on the turf, the national hunt world will be looking to Cheltenham and then Aintree, before the flat season kicks in with Newmarket and Epsom classics followed by Royal Ascot. On the subject of horse power, Lewis Hamilton will be looking to continue where he left off as he bids for a record-equalling seventh world title. After a classic year of sport, with so much to look back on, there is still plenty to look forward to over the coming months

  • British teams await European knock out oppo

    With the UK in the throes of its first Christmas general election for 96 years, European football remains a priority, as the group stages reach their climax. With Liverpool and Manchester City both topping their respective groups, and Chelsea and Tottenham also progressing, Monday’s draw for the last 16 of the Champions League is looking very healthy from an English perspective. Meanwhile, in the Europa League, all three English teams, Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves, along with Celtic and Rangers from north of the border, have made it through to the last 32, also to be drawn this Monday. With the knock out phases all set to start in February, there will plenty to look forward to in the New Year, but if it’s anything like last season, it will be well worth the wait.

  • Joshua out for revenge in the desert

    AJ is on a mission. Having lost his world heavyweight crown in New York in one of boxing’s greatest ever upsets, Anthony Joshua is out to reclaim his belts from the Mexican-American butterball, Andy Ruiz Jnr, who stunned the boxing world back in June. Despite being a late stand in for Joshua’s intended opponent, and an extraordinary physical difference between the two, the enormously out of shape Ruiz Jnr showed unexpected power and skill to inflict a first professional defeat on Joshua. However, for this rematch, in Dariyah, Saudi Arabia, billed as “Clash on the Dunes”, Joshua knows he can’t underestimate his opponent, and will surely not let lightning strike twice. It’s likely to be brutal, but it’s hard to see anything other than AJ coming away with the spoils, along with his $60 million purse.

  • Newbury all set for Winter Festival

    A week on from the hitherto unbeaten Altior losing out to Cyrname at Ascot, thereby ending a 14 race winning streak, Newbury takes centre stage this weekend with its Winter Festival, the  showpiece of which is the Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly the highly prestigious Hennessy Gold Cup. Always one of the highlights of the racing calendar, this year should be no different, with any number of realistic contenders entered. However, before that, Friday sees a highly competitive Ladbrokes Novices Chase followed by the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle, which should provide a battle royal between Paisley Park, Thistlecrack and Unowhatimeanharry, three of National Hunt’s biggest stars. With Aintree and Cheltenham to come over the next fortnight, followed by the King George VI at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and then Chepstow’s Welsh Grand National, you could say it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

  • New look Davis Cup Finals kick off in Madrid

    The inaugural Davis Cup Finals tournament is currently taking place week in Madrid. The eighteen team event is the brainchild of Barcelona footballer, Gerard Pique, with the new abridged format comprising round-robin group matches of two singles and a doubles, followed by a knockout phase.  Great Britain, having successfully negotiated their way to the last eight, will now face Germany in a bid to reach the semi-finals, and with it automatic qualification for next year’s event. Having Andy Murray back in their ranks is a huge boost for Great Britain, although, like patum peperium, he should be used sparingly, but with Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund as back up, not to mention the world class doubles pairing of Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, they have little to fear. Whether they can reproduce the heroics of 2015 remains to be seen, but they’re looking good.