If you are sports fan, then this is the weekend to be a couch potato and be proud of it. From Stade de France to SW 19 to Silverstone, there will be a ton of exciting sports action to look forward to this Saturday and Sunday.
It is almost here, the Euro 2016 finals – the grand finale of the month-long tournament in France that kept Indians awake in the wee hours of the night and watching videos of goal replays during the day. After a round of 50 matches, there are two teams standing – Portugal and France. The hosts, who were considered favourites even before the tournament started, won their spot in the final after a downing World Champions Germany 2-0.
On the other hand, few expected Portugal, who beat Wales 2-0 in the semis, to make it thus far. They may not have had the most straightforward path to finals, after not winning a single game in the group stages, but the Cristiano Ronaldo-led side will be hungry for history. Portugal drew against Iceland, Austria and Hungary in Group F and needed an extra-time goal to beat Croatia in the last 16. Ronaldo finally produced a classic performance in the 2-0 win over Wales -- scoring one goal and making one for Nani.
This is their chance to become the latest little nation to upset the continent's giants. After Denmark beat Germany in 1992 and Greece beat Portugal in Lisbon in 2004, the Portuguese now dream of upsetting France in their national stadium.
Saturday will be all about Serena Williams and her quest to retain the Wimbledon trophy and create history. The defending champion will aim to avenge one of the most painful defeats of her career by beating Angelique Kerber in the final. Earlier this year, Serena suffered a stunning loss against Kerber in the Australian Open final and the two will be meeting for the first time since that match. Serena, who held three of the four Slams coming into 2016, now holds only the Wimbledon, after losing the French Open final to Garbine Muguruza last month. In addition, this is her chance to finally equal Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 major titles by lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish for a seventh time. Sufficient incentive to ensure she plays her most devastating game yet.
However Kerber, who won her maiden Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open in January, has reached her first All England Club final, and will be looking for a repeat of the Australian Open. The fourth seed has set her sights on becoming the first player to defeat both of the American siblings in the same Grand Slam since Kim Clijsters at the 2009 US Open. Kerber has raced through her six matches at Wimbledon without dropping a set, now has WTA tour-best 34 match wins in 2016 and is guaranteed to rise to a career-high second in the world rankings next week.
Saturday will also have the Men's and Women's doubles finals. Unsurprisingly, Serena will be part of the women's doubles final as well, partnering sister Venus Williams in their sixth Wimbledon doubles final. The Williams sisters have won the All England Club doubles crown five times and will face fifth seeds Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova in the final as they bid for a 14th major doubles title.
Hungary's Babos and Kazakhstan's Shvedova defeated Raquel Atawo and Abigail Spears 6-4, 6-4 in the other semi-final.
Serena, 34, and Venus, 36, last won the Wimbledon doubles tournament in 2012. The American stars have won all 13 of their Grand Slam doubles finals dating back to their first success together at the French Open in 1999.
The men's doubles final will see the French pairs Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut take on Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in all France-final.
Sunday will see the big battle for the Wimbledon men's title between home star Andy Murray and emerging star Milos Raonic. Murray finds himself in the unusual position of favourite to lift a second Wimbledon title with fate seemingly doing its best to make sure the British star captures a third career Grand Slam crown.
The 29-year-old world number two faces Milos Raonic, the first Canadian man to reach a final at the majors, in what will be the first Wimbledon title match since 2002 not to feature Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. It will also be Murray's first final from 11 at the majors where he hasn't faced either Djokovic or Federer against whom he has lost eight times.
But Raonic, who won his first match on grass against a top 10 opponent and shattered Federer's hopes of claiming a record eighth All England Club crown and 18th major, won't be a pushover. The big-serving Canadian took it to five sets against Federer and prevailed. However, Murray holds a 6-3 lead in his head to head record with Raonic and defeated the 25-year-old on grass just three weeks ago in the Queen's Club final.
It will be interesting to see if the new guard stakes claim in men's tennis or the erstwhile supermacy of the 'Big Four' in Grand Slams continues.
British Grand Prix
Meanwhile, in another part of the country, another defending champion will be vying for a win. Lewis Hamilton will be seeking to complete a hat-trick of successive home wins to take command of this year's Formula One title race for the first time in Sunday's British Grand Prix. The 31-year-old Englishman, who survived a last-lap crash with his Mercedes team-mate and current championship leader Nico Rosberg in last Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, trails the German by 11 points ahead of this weekend's showdown. Hamilton and Rosberg have been told that they risk being ordered how to drive by their teams if they collide again.
First Published On : Jul 9, 2016 08:57 IST