Hello! Although I’ve been on exams the last few weeks, that certainly hasn’t stopped me from watching many hours of sport! There’s been so many exciting sporting events and incredible individual achievements over the past few weeks that I could make a top 20 list; however, I’ve tried to narrow it down to my Top 5. And, there’s been so many extraordinary moments of this year’s French Open that I will dive into all of them in this week’s feature article!

Top 5 Sporting Moments of the Week (ish):

5. New Zealand Black Caps dominate England to claim World Number 1 Ranking! England has lost their first Test series at home since 2014 after a disastrous defeat at the hands of a second-string Kiwi outfit who outclassed the home team in every facet of the match. Young players Will Young and Matt Henry stepped up to the challenge and looked composed in performing their roles for the team. New Zealand will now compete against India for the Test Championship, whereas England will begin desperately searching for answers as an Ashes campaign looms.

4. The UFC delivers again at UFC 263! You can always guarantee you will get your money’s worth when you purchase a ticket to a UFC event. The action started off with a 7-second knockout and closed with a professional and clinical performance by Israel Adesanya, who defended his middleweight title against a fiercely determined Marvin Vettori. Nate Diaz continued to show why he is a fan-favourite, almost knocking out Leon Edwards in the dying moments of a fight he was being dominated in. And, Brandon Moreno became the first Mexican-born UFC Champion in the Flyweight Division, highlighting that you don’t need to be rude and aggressive to be a star in the fight game. UFC 264 is next, and Mcgregor is coming!

3. The NSW Blues destroy the Queensland Maroons to claim victory in Origin 1. It was an explosive performance by the NSW Blues, led by stars Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell, defeating the Maroons 50-6, the biggest winning margin for the blues ever! Jarome Luai and Brian To’o were brilliant on debut, and the Maroons had no answers the entire game. Game 2 travels down the coast from Townsville to Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, where new coach Paul Green will have to make some serious changes to stand a chance against the Blues onslaught.

2. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix delivers again! Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly on the podium. If anyone had bet on that before the race started, they would be a millionaire. The Grand Prix started with a calculated performance by Red Bull, with Max Verstappen taking the lead, followed by his teammate Sergio Perez. However, an incident 2 laps before the chequered flag, where Max Verstappen crashed due to a tyre failure, flipped the race on its head. A red flag period ensued, and the restart was edge of your seat entertainment as Hamilton locked his brakes into the first corner, Gasly performed a perfect manoeuvre on Leclerc down the straight and Perez kept his cool, capping off an incredible enjoy race weekend!

1. The Bulldogs dominated the Dragons in an impressive victory! Arguably, this was not the best moment of sport of the last week. However, as a die-hard Bulldogs fan, and considering it was the first professional sporting event I’ve been able to watch live since pre-COVID, it was a fantastic experience. It’s been a difficult few years as a Bulldogs fan, with a lack of consistency in club officials, coaches and players resulting in disappointing results on the field. This season has been no different, with the team only winning 1 of its 11 games, leaving the Bulldogs sitting on the bottom of the ladder. However, a motivated and disciplined team walked out onto Stadium Australia, with a stunning performance of courageous attacking football and strong defence sealing a memorable victory!

Feature Article: French Open Drama!

It has been a crazy two weeks of French Open action that started and ended with controversy and entertainment. So, let’s break down the last two weeks into some of the memorable parts!

Naomi Osaka Debacle

Naomi Osaka, the world number 2, withdrew from the French Open following a fine she received for deciding not to speak to the press after her first-round victory. She also stated that she wouldn’t talk to the media throughout the tournament, which resulted in organisers threatening to expel her from the competition. Her reasoning for this decision involved the impact of the press conferences upon her mental health. She has suffered from mental illness since the 2018 US Open final, which was riddled in controversy after a Serena Williams outburst at the umpires. The first thing I want to mention is the courage of Osaka in publicly admitting her struggles with mental illness and being willing to step away from the game she loves to protect her mental health. Secondly, I want to note the hypocrisy of the French Open officials, particularly the Head of French Tennis, leaving the press conference and refusing to answer questions after announcing Osaka’s withdrawal from the competition. I understand that press conferences are important and ‘part of the job’, but there have to be other ways that ensure the athlete’s health, such as old school sending in questions via text message/email that can be responded to in writing, rather than the intimating press conference room.

Roger Federer Exits the Competition

In another strange event of the tournament, Roger Federer withdrew from the competition after his third-round victory. He cited his desire to not overstrain his knee as he prepares for Wimbledon, a tournament he has set his sight on winning before his illustrious career comes to an end. Many players and fans complained about Federer’s decision, labelling it unethical and a poor example to other players; however, he 100% supported his decision due to the protection of his health. I don’t think people can be too upset at Federer for his choice to exit the tournament. The tennis calendar is incredibly jam-packed with events, and as a legend of the sport at 39 years of age, you can’t complain about him favouring his health. There is more life to come than his career as a tennis player.

Barbora Krejcikova Makes History!

For the first time since 2000, Krejcikova won the French Open women’s singles and doubles title in an incredible performance! A known doubles and mixed doubles player, Krejcikova entered the singles competition as an unseeded player, dominating her opponents and pulling off stunning victories in the semi-final against Maria Sakkari and in the final against Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. It was Krejcikova’s first Grand Slam Final, and she will now rise to inside the Top 15 players in the world, after being outside the Top 50 only a month ago.

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