As 2014 draws to close, one cannot help recall some interesting stories that lit up the year and also some sensational news. While there were gains for some, others were not so lucky. Roger Federer had a great time after a miserable 2013 season and he ended the year with a victory for Switzerland in Davis Cup. Formula-One champion Sebastian Vettel drew a blank as perhaps the machine configurations went against the Red Bull. We had the engaging football World Cup at Brazil that kept sport enthusiasts engrossed for over a month but the host nation met with disappointment. One goal from Colombian James Rodrigues against Uruguay made him into an overnight superstar. Spain hosted the first-ever FIBA Basketball World Cup, where Americans were supreme. Other international events were Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Asian Games at Incheon and Winter Olympics at Sochi, which also hosted the World Chess Championship in November. On the flip side, sensational incidents included; doping ban for world’s best badminton player Lee Chong Wei and champion swimmer Michael Phelps being arrested for drunken driving. Michael Schumacher showed recovery after a medically-induced coma but another F1 driver crashed his car in wet conditions during the Japanese GP. Jules Bianchi had to remain under intensive care for weeks. The year ended with big time football making its debut on the Indian soil.
The year began with tennis action. Hounded by media since late 2013, Swiss Star and 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer reached the finals of Brisbane International but lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the final. In a simultaneously ingoing tournament at Doha, Rafael Nadal also made a winning start by beating Gale Monfils in the final. In Australian Open, Federer continued to play like old times and reached the semifinals before losing to Nadal. Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka emerged victorious in the final with Nadal, when the Spaniard couldn’t play with complete fitness. After Federer won 2014’s first ATP tournament in Dubai, the big Swiss was back in business though he lost to Djokovic at Indian Wells. In year’s second Grand slam at Roland Garros, Federer lost in quarterfinal to Ernests Gulbis but the French Open will be remembered for Rafael Nadal scoring his ninth victory. Three weeks later at Wimbledon, Djokovic ended the winner after a 5-set battle with Federer. In the last Grand Slam tournament of the year in US, Federer and Djokovic suffered semifinal upsets by Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic, who won the US Open. In the year-end ATP finals in London, Djokovic and Federer reached the finals but Federer withdrew due to injury. The Swiss ended 2014 with a new feather in his cap by powering Switzerland for their maiden victory in Davis Cup.
The biggest sporting disappointment of 2014 was reserved for Sebastian Vettel, who couldn’t win a single F1 race. The season witnessed fierce end-to-end rivalry between Britain’s Lewis Hamilton and Germany’s Nico Rosberg. The two drivers and their Mercedes team dominated 2014 and individual championship was settled in Abu Dhabi’s last race of 2014, where Hamilton emerged the 2014 world champion. In MotoGP, Spain’s Marc Marquez recorded 13 season-wins and was the deserved champion. The F1 scene was marred by a very serious accident suffered by Marussia driver Jules Bianchi at the Japanese GP on October 5 in wet conditions. He is out of the hospital but his true condition is unknown. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher, whose head struck a rock in the French Alps while skiing in December 2013 was discharged from hospital, though he is paralyzed and cannot speak yet.
Brazil hosted the 20th FIFA World Cup in June-July 2014. Germany won the final 1-0 against Argentina after the hosts suffered the ignominy of losing to Germany 7-1 in the semifinals. There were brilliant performances spearheaded by Colombia’s James Rodrigues, who scored most tournament goals. James’ gem of a goal against Uruguay remained the topic of conversation for long. There was one bad incident in the match between Uruguay and Italy, when Uruguayan striker Luiz Suarez was suspended for nine international matches after he sunk his teeth onto the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Caroline Wozniacki and Rory Mcllroy both benefitted from their break-ups. While Wozniacki’s tennis 2014 performance became famous, Mcllroy regained his world no.1 position on Golfing Circuits. After a disastrous 2013, Mcllroy has won two majors this year to turn up a grand show. In Spain, FIBA conducted its first basketball World Cup, which was won by USA, who beat Serbia in the final. There was furious action during the tournament and despite early promise, hosts Spain couldn’t make it to final. The 2014 Glasgow commonwealth games were dominated by England and Australia who won a total of 174 and 137 medals respectively. Similarly, 2014 Incheon Asian Games in South Korea ended with Chinese supremacy. China won 342 medals, followed by Korea’s 234 and Japan’s 200. End of year action included World Chess Championship between India’s Vishwanathan Anand and defending champion Magnus Carlsen with the Norwegian retaining his crown. Footballs fans in the subcontinent enjoyed the first edition of the Indian Super League football, which involved eight teams from different regions. They played round-robin league games on home-and-away basis for two months before the knock-out phase. Atletico de Kolkata, a team owned by cricketer Saurav Ganguly lifted the inaugural trophy by beating Sachin Tendulkar owned Kerala Blasters in the final.
In one of the most shocking sporting incidents of 2014, world no. 1 badminton player Lee Chong Wei was slapped an indefinite ban for a doping violation. The Malaysian is set to lose his No.1 tag to China’s Chen Long, when BWF rankings are announced next. In another incident at USA, swimming legend, Michael Phelps was arrested in Baltimore for drunken driving. After the 18-time gold medal winner pleaded guilty for his offence, he has been kept under 18 months of supervised probation.