The year started with great promise for British tennis fans as a resurgent Andy Murray showcased his grand slam credentials at the Australian Open in January.
The British number one dropped just one set on his march to the final, recording victories over John Isner, Rafael Nadal and Marin Ã„Å’iliÃ„â€¡. For the second time in his blossoming career, Murray faced Roger Federer in a major final, and despite boasting a superior 6-4 record over the Swiss maestro, the Scot crumbled in the final losing 3-6, 4-6, 6-7 (11).
Elsewhere, Martin Adams won the second BDO World Darts Championship of his 29-year career after defeating the unseeded Dave Chisnall 7-5 in the final.
The African Cup of Nations was marred by an attack the Togo team bus by gunmen in Cambodia as it travelled to the tournament, resulting in the death of three people. Togo withdrew from the competition and Egypt triumphed to claim their seventh African crown and their third in a row after beating Ghana 1Ã¢â‚¬â€œ0 in the final.
The 21st Winter Olympics took place in Vancouver in the second half of February. Canada clinched first in overall gold medal wins with 14, becoming the first host nation to do so since Norway in 1976. Great Britain’s single success came in the women’s skeleton as Amy William’s secured a memorable gold, twice breaking the track record. Williams won by over half a second and became the first Briton to win an individual event at the Winter Games since Robin Cousin at Lake Placid in 1980.
In Basketball, the NBA All-star game attracted a record attendance of 108,713 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The East were crowned winners over the West in a 141-139 victory as Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade recorded 28 points.
Meanwhile, Manchester United claimed a fourth League Cup title by overcoming Aston Villa at Wembley. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men fought back after James Milner’s fifth-minute penalty had put Villa ahead. Strikes from Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney sealed a 2-1 victory.
March saw France storm to a Six Nations Championship success after easing clear of second-placed Ireland. Les Bleus were consistent throughout the four weeks and completed their first grand slam since 2004 with a final day 12-10 victory over Martin Johnson’s England at the Stade de France in Paris.
Manny Pacquiao successfully defended his WBO Welterweight title by defeating Joshua Clottey in front of a record 51,000-strong crowd at the Cowboys Stadium.
Tiger Woods made his return to competitive golf in April at the the first major of the season, the Masters. However, there was no respite for Woods following a scandal-packed six months as he failed to make an impact in Augusta. Phil Mickelson won his third Masters title by three shots over runner-up Lee Westwood.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scored all four of his side’s goals as the Champions League holders secured a memorable 4-1 quarter-final victory over Arsenal at Camp Nou.
Britain’s David Haye defeated John Ruiz in his first WBA Heavyweight title defence in Manchester by technical knock-out in the ninth round.
May saw Chelsea complete an historic double in Carlo Ancelotti’s debut season by pipping Manchester United to the Premier League title by a single point and securing a narrow 1-0 victory over Portsmouth in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
In Europe, JosÃƒÂ© Mourinho led Inter Milan to the treble. A brace from Diego Milito helped the Italian league and cup champions to a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League final. Atletico Madrid overcame Fulham in the Europa League final after an extra-time winner from Diego Forlan decided a close match. First-half goals from the Uruguay international and Simon Davies saw the clash go to extra time.
Meanwhile, Toulouse won their fourth Heineken Cup with a 21-19 win over Biarritz in an all-French affair at the Stade de France. And there was joy for Cardiff Blues whose 28-21 victory over Toulon secured an inaugural Amlin Challenge Cup final success, becoming the first Welsh club to win a European trophy in the sport.
The England cricket team triumphed at the third Twenty20 World Tournament in the West Indies. Paul Collingwood’s side beat Australia by seven wickets in the final at Kensington Oval in Barbados to record their first ever ICC tournament win.
In June, Rafael Nadal began a personal renaissance at the French Open. Fittingly, Nadal was afforded the opportunity to exact revenge on Robin Soderling in the final after the Swede had stunned Nadal the in the fourth round in 2009. The Spaniard efficiently disposed of Soderling in straight sets to win his fifth Roland Garros title and complete the ‘clay slam’ having won the three Masters tournaments in the build-up to the French Open.
Weeks later, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played out the longest tennis match in history in the first round at Wimbledon, taking 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days. Isner eventually won 70-68 in a marathon final set.
In Golf, Greame McDowell won the US Open at Pebble Beach to become the first Irishman to accomplish the feat as well as the first European winner since 1970. It was the Northern Irishman’s first PGA tour success and would mark be the beginning of a memorable year for the golfer.
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