It’s going to be a fantastic week of sport.
On Monday, we see the conclusion of the Betfred World Matchplay’s Round of 32. We follow that up on Tuesday with what could potentially be the deciding game of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. Wednesday brings us the debut of the new cricket competition, The Hundred. This is followed by the start of the next women’s golfing Major, The Evian Championship. Which brings us to Friday, and the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The weekend begins with the first Test match between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions on Saturday. On Sunday, we return to Tokyo for the first day of medals in the pool, with four swimming medals up for grabs.
The PDC World Matchplay continues with the final day of first round play at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Play begins at 6:00PM GMT on Monday 19th July 2021.
Four matches close out the first round of the 2021 World Matchplay.
World number 14 and two-time semi-finalist Daryl Gurney faces world number 17 Ian White. Coming off a semi-final appearance at the Unibet Premier League, world number 11 Nathan Aspinall meets world number 20 and veteran player Mervyn King.
Two-time World Matchplay champion and world number 3 Michael van Gerwen begins his tournament against world number 45 Damon Heta. The final match of the night sees 2018 World Matchplay champion and world number 6 Gary Anderson faces off against world number 18 Stephen Bunting. It should be a thrilling night of darts.
The NBA Finals reach a pivotal Game 6 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Game 6 tips off at 1:00AM GMT on Wednesday 21st July 2021.
The last time a team lost the first two games of the NBA Finals but went on to win the NBA title were the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. If the Milwaukee Bucks win tonight, they will become just the fifth team in the 74-year history of the NBA Finals to achieve the feat. The leaders of this spectacular comeback are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. The pair have scored a combined 186 points across the last three games of the series. The last time the Bucks were in a title match, it was 1971 and their star was the young Lew Alcindor. Can the new generation of stars take the final step too?
Standing in their way are the Phoenix Suns. They may be a game down, but they certainly are not out of the running yet. Devin Booker has been a stalwart leader for the Suns. After a down game in Game 3, Booker has scored 82 points across Games 4 and 5. If anyone can help rally the Suns, it’s Booker.
Will the Bucks lift the title? Or will the Suns force a Game 7?
The UK’s new cricket competition, The Hundred, begins at The Oval in London on Wednesday 21st July 2021 at 5:30PM with the Oval Invicibles Women playing the Manchester Originals Women.
Britain’s newest cricket competition begins on Wednesday. The Hundred features eight teams, each with a men’s and women’s squad, from around the UK. The format is simple – each team gets one inning with a maximum of 100 balls. It’s designed to be a faster, more accessible cricket format.
The season opener will see the women’s teams from the Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals face off in London. The Invincibles are led by English international Fran Wilson, with three capped South Africans in Dane van Niekerk, Shabnim Ismail, and Marizanne Kapp as their overseas players.
The Originals are captained by long-time Lancashire veteran Kate Cross. She is joined by her England teammate Sophie Ecclestone and long-time Lancashire co-star Alex Hartley. From the overseas allocation, they are joined by former South African captain Mignon du Preez, Preez’s South African teammate Lizelle Lee, and India’s Harmanpreet Kaur.
Be sure you don’t miss the start of this brand-new competition.
The Evian Championship, the penultimate Major of the women’s golf season, gets underway at the Evian Resort Golf Club in Évian-les-Bains. Play begins on Thursday 22nd July 2021 at 9:00AM GMT.
The Evian Championship returns to golfing schedule after its absence in 2020.
The defending champion from 2019 is world number 2, Ko Jin-young. The 26-year-old is having another strong season on the LPGA Tour, with five top-10 finishes and a tournament win at the Volunteers of America Classic.
While a number of high-profile players will not be in attendance, due to the gruelling schedule of the Evian Championship, the Olympics, and the final Major of the season AIG Women’s Open all in the next month, the field is still incredibly competitive. ANA Inspiration winner Patty Tavatanakit and PGA Championship winner, and world number 1, Nelly Korda will both be in attendance. In total, 126 golfers will compete for the title in eastern France.
The 2020 Olympics officially open at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Friday 23rd July 2021 at 11:00AM GMT.
After a delay of a year, the Tokyo Olympics, the 32nd Olympiad, will officially get underway. The proceedings are expected to be opened by Emperor Naruhito, the current ruler of Japan.
Over 11,000 athletes from 206 nations will compete in 339 events across 33 sports. Alongside familiar events such as athletics, rowing, and swimming, five new events have been added for Tokyo. Baseball and softball return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile, karate, sports climbing, skateboarding, and surfing all make their Olympic debuts.
Use Fixture Calendar to keep up to date with proceedings throughout the Olympics. There will also be daily Olympic content on the Fixture Calendar Instagram.
Continuing their Tour of South Africa, the British & Irish Lions take on South Africa in the first Test between the two sides.
The British & Irish Lions begin the most crucial part of their Tour – three Tests against the South African national team. They have dominated the Tour so far, their only loss of the Tour coming against South Africa A, a match that ended in a tight 17-13 loss for the Lions.
South Africa enter this match as the number 1 ranked nation in the world, thanks in large part to their 2019 Rugby World Cup victory. They come off a Test win over Georgia earlier in the month but also have been preparing by using the South Africa A team in games against the Lions and the Bulls, as South Africa Test sides in all but name. They also earned famous wins over both England and Wales at the Rugby World Cup, giving them a unique advantage of squad comprised in part of players from those nations.
Can the Lions overcome South Africa? Or will the Springboks continue their recent dominance?
It’s a busy day of swimming at the Olympics, with four medals being contested. The day begins at 1:30AM GMT on Sunday 25th July 2021 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo.
It’s the second day of competition and first day of medals for the Olympic Swimming.
The day begins with the Final of the men’s 400m individual medley. 31 competitors are slated for the event, but only eight will contest the Final. We are guaranteed a new gold medallist as Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, the gold medalist from Rio, will not contest the 400m. However, both the US’s Chase Kalisz and Hagino’s compatriot Daiya Seto will look to improve on their respective silver and bronze from 2016. This will be followed by the men’s 400m freestyle. Rio gold medalist Mack Horton failed to qualify for the event, as did China’s silver medallist Sun Yang. The only Rio medalist in the field in Tokyo is Italian bronze medallist Gabriele Detti.
Medal number three is the women’s 400m individual medley. Hungary’s Katinka Hosszú will look to defend her gold medal. Hosszú also took gold at the most recent FINA World Championships in 2019. The last medal of the day before the afternoon’s session of heats is the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. Australia are the defending champions in the event, though the USA will be eager to improve on their silver from Rio.
Honourable mentions from around the world go to the Olympics. The 2020 Olympics begin this week. While the opening ceremony is not till Friday, the events begin on Wednesday, starting with the preliminary stages of the softball and women’s football. Use Fixture Calendar to stay up to date with every event throughout the Olympics.
Alongside The Hundred, it’s another busy week of international cricket. Pakistan’s Tour of England ends with the 3rd T20 between the two sides. India’s Tour of Sri Lanka continues with the end of their ODIs and the start of their T20s. Australia’s Tour of the West Indies also concludes with two ODI matches.
There’s also plenty of football to enjoy. In the US, the MLS and NWSL both continue their seasons. The CONCACAF Gold Cup also runs throughout the week, with the end of the group stage and the start of the knockout round.
For rugby fans, there is plenty of both union and league action to enjoy. In rugby league, the NRL season sees the title race between the 1st place Storm and 2nd place Panthers heat up as neither side will want to drop points against their respective opponents. There is also the next round of Super League fixtures. In rugby union, the week sees the Major League Rugby semifinals. Rugby ATL take on Rugby United NY while the LA Giltinis face the Utah Warriors.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Professional Darts Corporation, Milwaukee Bucks, Surrey Cricket, The Amundi Evian Championship, Tokyo 2020, The British & Irish Lions, Katinka Hosszu
Written and information correct on 18th July 2021 at 10pm GMT.
See what else is happening in the world of sport