federerWe have almost finished 2009 and have witnessed an eventful sporting year on and off the pitch. Who cannot remember the win of the Steelers against the Cardinals in the superbowl or the stunning race of Usain Bolt in which he broke the 100 metres world record by a mile, or Tiger’s great comeback after his injury (although he didn’t manage to win a major and did take a sidestep at the end of the year), or Roger Federer breaking Pete Sampras’ grand slam record. In spite of all of this 2010 should be a much more eventful sporting year given bonus events such as the Winter Olympics and the World Championships of Football. We briefly discuss the 10 biggest sports events to look forward to.

1. American Football (NFL). In the NFL the Colts should beat the Saints in what would probably be the dream final of the 2009-2010 season. Two teams with 2 great quarterbacks should deserve to battle it out in Miami, with Peyton Manning likely to be the big star. And if any of these two teams won’t make it to the Superbowl, look for the Chargers or Vikings as potential stand-ins.

2. Vancouver 2010, the Winter Olympics. Lots to look forward to. In hockey crazed Vancouver, team Canada should get away with the gold, beating the Swedes in the finals. That’s an easy one and chances for a surprise winner in this field are virtually zero. As far as the countries taking away the most gold medals, it should be a battle between Germany, the US and Canada and don’t be surprised if the Canucks, feeling strong on home soil, take it away. The biggest golddiggers? Speedskaters Sven Kramer and Shani Davis will probably battling it out, both of them going for 3 gold medals. Or could Ole Einar Bjorndalen (biathlon) do it one more time in his fourth Olympics? Although he still regularly wins, I doubt whether he will pull it off this time……In any case it will be fun and the great city of Vancouver will only add to the pleasure!

3. Golf. It could be Phil’s season but don’t count out the Tiger! Having put behind the illness of his wife, Phil Mickelson could be back with a vengeance and win a couple of majors. Much will depend on Tiger. If he will divorce from his wife, he could put all his attention back to golfing, if not the story might be different. It is still my guess Tiger will be back in time for the first major, the Masters in Augusta. Tiger’s fire to beat the record of Jack Nicklaus should still be burning. If having put behind his private matters, don’t be surprised when Tiger gets away with another major this year. And the dark horses? Look for the young guns Martin Kaymer and Rory Mcilroy.

4. Sailing, the Americas Cup. After a long and ridiculous legal battle off the water, the 33rd Americas Cup now looks set to take place in Valencia mid February. Sailing should take place on the water and not in the court room. With recent emphasis having been taken away from sailing, I doubt whether this has been doing any good to the sports and to the brand value of its main sponsors BMW and Oracle as well as the ones of Alinghi. It is to hope that clear rules will be set for the 34th Cup. In any case hopefully attention will turn back to sailing in mid February. That is to say if BMW Oracle’s latest claim of Alinghi’s sails not been made in Switzerland (the rules require that the boat and all equipment be built entirely in the country represented) will hold. If the claim will be awarded, we will see further delays. If not, sailing should go ahead and in that case I opt for Alinghi, which should have had more testing time on the water.

5. Tennis, Roger and Kim once more. Of the three Gillette triplets only Roger Federer still stands firm, Tiger Woods and to some extent Thierry Henry (after his hand ball in the all important France Ireland match) have fallen from grace. I cannot believe Roger will fall into the same kind of trap. On the contrary, he should continue gaining further support and winning several grandslams once again. I doubt Nadal will get back to his old performance level and if he does, how long his knees will hold. Del Potro is probably the guy to watch. For the women it should become more interesting again now that Kim is back. Clijsters veni vidi vici in the US Open should see further confirmation in 2010, which should be a welcome change after the reign of the Williams sisters.

6. Motor racing; Formula 1, Schumi is back! A blessing for Formula 1, that’s how one can summarize the come-back of 7x world champion Michael Schumacher. Over the last few years the popularity of Formula 1 has clearly come down, as fans no longer felt sufficiently connected to the sports, due to the combination of a lack of charismatic drivers, several scandals (crashgate) and the economic downturn. With Schumacher being back and several new racing teams on the grid, Formula 1 should bounce back. It should be an interesting season. Will McLaren and Ferrari be able to return to the front and head-up to Mercedes? In any case, it should be fun to see Schumacher fight with the new generation drivers such as Hamilton and Alonso. My pick for the 2010 season: Hamilton!

7. Cycling Tour de France; Contador for third time in a row. Who can beat Alberto Contador in 2010? Despite his great comeback in 2009, I do not expect Armstrong can pull it off. Despite gathering a very strong team around him this year with many of the old teammates of Contador, the years start to count, whereas Contador looks stronger every year. On the other hand never say never; I wouldn’t be surprised when Armstrong would have a few more tricks up his sleeve! Elsewhere Schleck, Valverde, Evans and Wiggins should fall short again, whilst it probably is still a bit early for Dutch condor Robert Gesink. So few dark horses in a Tour de France which hopefully will lack any doping scandals.

8. World Championships Football 2010. In summer the spotlights of the world will be on South Africa, the first African country to host one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the World Championships Football What to expect? Italy should be unable to retain the worldcup after the recent mediocre performances of the national team as well as that of the club-teams. Spain, the reigning European champions is the country to watch with some fantastic individual players. Spain’s track record in the Worldcup has been dramatic, but winning the European championships should have put an end to that spell. Nevertheless, it won’t come easy and particularly England could spoil the party, they should be seen as Spain’s main threat, certainly with the current confidence of the lads, it could finally be their time again. The dark horses? Brazil, Holland and as always Germany. Topscorer? Look for David Villa

9. Swimming, back to basics again! No major championships this year, but what will make the sports interesting is the absence of high tech swimsuits. Technique will become more important again at the expense of pure muscle power. So it should be! It probably means there will be new names to watch! And of course some names will remain the same; Michael Phelps will continue to be a class on his own. So swimming will be swimming again with one exception; the number of new world records should be limited……

10. Basketball, will it be the Lakers again? Who dares to bet against Bryant and company? Not many, in most polls the Lakers are leading by a mile. Nevertheless, the Cavaleers proved during Christmas that the Lakers are far from unbeatable. With King James assisted by a determined Shaq doing his last few tricks, don’t be surprised when the Cavs pull it off!

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