In ‘Hot Tickets’, we look into our crystal ball to determine which sporting events might end up being all-time classics. Here are my three must attend events of 2021.
The Wimbledon Final - July 11th
The extraordinary era of men’s tennis, with the three most successful Grand Slam singles players of all-time going head to head for what seems like forever, is drawing to a conclusion.
Incredibly, in the sixty one Grand Slams since Nadal won his first Grand Slam title in 2005, only seven men had won one before Dominic Thiem’s recent victory at Flushing Meadows. In doing so, Thiem became the first new Grand Slam winner since 2014, and the first to be born in the 90’s. Although his victory must include a COVID asterisk, highlighted by the fact that he didn’t need to beat one of the big three to win it, the chances of all three big guns lining up together many more times in majors are diminishing.
At stake over the coming year or two is more than just individual Grand Slam titles. At the end of the day, when future generations sit down for their ‘greatest of all time’ debate, the man who finished with the most Major titles will hold the aces. As time goes by, the nuances of the way each one played, how they conducted themselves on and off the court and their popularity counts for less than the sheer number of Major trophies in the cabinet Although rarely said so publicly, all three will be desperate to retire on top of the pile.. With Federer and Nadal currently on twenty Majors each, and with Djokovic younger and well positioned on seventeen, the race is on.
As for this year, the betting and history tells you that Djokovic is the most likely winner of what would be a ninth Australian Open. The same can be said of Nadal at Roland Garros, with few predicting anything other than a remarkable 14th French Open victory for the Spaniard. So where does this leave Federer? The interrupted year couldn’t have come at a worse time as the oldest of the trio, but in the depths of the restrictions, with no matches to play and contemplating life after tennis, the dream of one last run at Wimbledon, reaching 21 titles and bowing out in style must have played over in his mind throughout.
A final with any two of these three legends would guarantee Centre Court as the hottest ticket of the year. But a Federer appearance on July 11th could see one of the great ‘I was there’ matches and a tear jerking farewell to most tennis fans greatest ever player.
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England v Scotland at Wembley - Euro 2021 Group Game - June 18th
The pent up frustration of last year, a twenty-two year wait for Major tournament football for the Scottish fans, and the ever present needle between the two countries makes this the match of the Euro 2021 group games.
A home side buoyed by their unexpected run to the World Cup semi-final in Russia, with stern competition for places everywhere bar centre back, they will be strongly fancied to beat the old enemy and make a strong run for a first major trophy since ‘66. The pressure on the home side will play into the Scots hands, quite used to their underdog tag and desperate to spoil the party.
Whilst we may not witness scenes quite like 1977, when the Scottish fans stormed the Wembley pitch and famously snapped the crossbar after beating England 2-1, the Tartan Army will be out in force to ensure the best atmosphere at a match in England for over a year.
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Joshua v Fury, May/June 2021?
Whilst there is clearly a market for the proposed gimmick fights muted for 2021 involving Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor, YouTube ‘stars’ and even Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, it is the Fury and Joshua battle that fight fans are desperate to see.
All modern fights are hyped to within an inch of their lives, but there is little question that a Joshua Fury fight will be the biggest British boxing event in history.
The fight has been earmarked for May/June, but Eddie Hearn has said that "we need a full capacity in the UK" to have any hope of the proposed mega-fight staying in the champions’ home country. Sadly a full capacity during late spring is a long shot. Alternatives include the Middle-East, and there will be others thrown into the mix.
British boxing fans deserve it to be on these shores but wherever and whenever it does take place it promises to be a classic and the fight of the year to be ringside.
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