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2018 crowned champions, new and old

After a poor start, Djokovic turned things around in the second half of the year to return to the summit of men’s tennis

2018 crowned champions, new and old

The year gone by saw records being shattered, history being rewritten, comebacks galore and an array of adrenaline pumped moments. At the end of the day, as is the case with sports, what mattered was which team or athlete was the last one standing. Here are the highlights from 2018.

France rule world, Real Madrid Europe

After what was truly a memorable World Cup in Russia in the summer, it was France that won their second title after 1998. The tournament would also be remembered for Croatia’s run to the final, with skipper Luka Modric winning the Ballon D’Or this month.

Modric’s win was also based on Real Madrid making a hat-trick of Champions League triumphs. While Barcelona won La Liga, Madrid continued their grip over the continent, before eventually letting their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo more to Juventus in the summer.

Following this year’s win Juve have now won seven Serie A titles on the bounce. Ronaldo’s signing is designed to finally push them beyond the finish line in the Champions League.

While Juventus made it seven on the bounce, Bayern Munich made it six in the bounce in Germany. Paris Saint-Germaine made it five league titles in six years, and like Juve they are seeking glory in the Champions League now.

Meanwhile in England Manchester City won the Premier League with a record number of points and goals. Champions League finalists Liverpool are emerging as their strongest challenger in the ongoing season, currently top with a six point lead over Tottenham Hotspurs – with City third.

Djokovic returns

After sinking to No 22 in the world, and going two full years without a major title or an ATP 1,000 crown, Novak Djokovic turned things around in the second half of 2018 to return to the summit of men’s tennis.

He won back to back majors at Wimbledon beating Kevin Anderson in the final and then the US Open, overcoming Juan Martin Del Potro in the finale. Djokovic also completed a career sweep of all nine ATP 1,000 crowns when he won at Cincinnati in the lead up to the US Open.

The Serb’s win over Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon semifinal was one of the matches of the year. He eventually took over the Spaniard’s number one ranking by the year end.

However, the year began with Fedal still challenging for the majors. By June, Nadal and Roger Federer had divided the six previous Grand Slam titles between them as Roger retained the Australian Open title in January and Rafa made it 11 at Roland Garros.

The year ended with two of the brightest among the Next Gen winning big. Karen Khachanov won the final ATP 1000 title of the year in Paris, while Alexander Zverev ended the year by winning the season finale the World Tour Finals after beating Federer and Djokovic in semifinal and final respectively.

Koepka’s year

Just as Djokovic won two of the four tennis majors in 2018, Brooks Koepka did the same in golf. The American edged out Tommy Fleetwood by a single stroke to win his second straight US Open championship, followed by a two shot PGA Championship win over Tiger Woods.

He became the first player since Woods in 2000 to win both the US Open and the PGA Championship in the same year. Koepka has now won three of the last seven golf majors.

Patrick Reed won the Masters in thrilling fashion when he edged out compatriots Ricky Fowler and Jordan Spieth by one and two strokes respectively. Spieth was looking to make it a major winning season for the third time in four years. Spieth and Reed, however, currently stand at 16th and 15th on the official rankings.

Francesco Molinari who won The Open by two strokes beating the likes of Kevin Kisner, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, and XanderSchauffele, became the first ever Italian winner of a golf major. He finished the year ranked seventh.

After his most competitive year in ages Tiger Woods is up to 13th in the world, with his fans hoping that more would follow in 2019. But World No 1 Koepka firmly remains the man to beat.

NBA still golden

Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers won the Western and Easter Conferences for the fourth straight year. It was the Warriors who made it three NBA rings in four years, with a 4-0 sweep over the Cavaliers.

The finals turned out to be anticlimactic given that they were supposed to be the closest series yet, after Cavaliers 4-2 and 4-1 wins in 2015 and 2016, which were derailed by the seven match thrilling triumph for the Cavaliers.

LeBron James’ trade from Cavaliers to Los Angeles Lakers has left the Eastern Conference wide open. And with Warriors below their unparalleled best as well – even though they still top the Western Conference post-Boxing Day –the West appears to be more open than it has been in recent seasons.

Hamilton, Mercedes still in top gear

Lewis Hamilton won 11 out of the 21 races to win his fourth F1 Drivers’ title in five years, with Mercedes making it five on the trot in the Constructors’ championship. The 11 wins equaled Hamilton’s most triumphs in a season, replicating 2014.

The 88 point triumph over second placed Sebastian Vettel was Hamilton’s greatest ever win margin, and the third highest of all time following Vettel’s 155 and 122 point victories in 2013 and 2011.

With Vettel at four F1 titles and Hamilton at five, two of the greatest of all time are now playing their trade in the present day. However, it’s Hamilton who has the momentum allowing him to eye Michael Schumacher’s record tally of seven.

K Shahid

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