It’s another blockbuster week of action across the globe, with plenty of items on the sporting menu to sink your teeth into! Monday sees the conclusion of the Snooker World Championship Final, when either Mark Selby or Shaun Murphy will take home the title. There is a colossal showdown in the NBA’s Eastern Conference on Tuesday which will see the Milwaukee Bucks do battle with the Brooklyn Nets. Will it be Chelsea or Real Madrid who book their spot in this year’s Champions League Final? Tune in on Wednesday night to find out. Golf fans will turn their attentions to Quail Hollow in North Carolina on Thursday, as the Wells Fargo Championship plays out on the PGA Tour.
There is a double helping of tennis action on Friday as the Madrid Open continues on the ATP and WTA Tours. One of cycling’s grandest races gets underway on Saturday when Stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia plays out. We end the week in Barcelona where the Formula 1 Spanish GP will be won and lost.
It’s trophy hand-out day at this year’s World Championship – whose name will be on the trophy at The Crucible Theatre?
Monday brings us the second day of action from this year’s Final, with Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy entangled in an epic duel.
Mark Selby’s route to the Final has been far from straightforward, with the three-time world champ having to overcome the likes to Mark Allen and Mark Williams to name just two of the stern examinations he has already overcome. Most notably, however, in what was undoubtedly one of the games of the tournament, Selby defeated former world champion Stuart Bingham in a marathon Semi-final to secure his place in the final at the Crucible. After more than 11 hours on the baize, Selby ultimately triumphed 17-15 to reach a fifth Worlds Final in his eminent career. When the Englishman reaches the Final at this competition, he typically goes on to reign supreme, having won on three of his four previous Final appearances, including each of the last three. Will it be a famous fourth for Selby on Monday?
Standing in his way is one Shaun Murphy, who has arguably been the surprise package at this year’s edition. Murphy, ranked number seven in the world, is contesting his fourth World Championship Final, his first since 2015. Unlike his compatriot, Murphy has notoriously struggled in this showpiece game, winning on just one of his three previous trips to the Final. ‘The Magician’s’ path to the Final has been no cakewalk either, having dumped out two of the game’s up-and-comers in Kyren Wilson and Judd Trump. After two thrilling sessions of play on Sunday, the scoreline currently reads 10-7 in favour of Selby – can ‘The Jester From Leicester’ finish the job, or will Murphy mount a spectacular comeback?
All eyes are on the NBA’s Eastern Conference from 11:30PM GMT on Tuesday.
With seven games left to play, the Brooklyn Nets are one of just two teams in the East to have already clinched their playoff position, meaning they will be making their seventh trip to the postseason since the franchise’s relocation in 2012. Whilst their playoff berth has already been confirmed, there is still the important matter of finishing as high up the standings as possible to gain the biggest advantage heading into the postseason. However, the Nets faltered last time out against the very same Milwaukee side they will face on Tuesday, as the Bucks ran out 117-114 in a thrilling contest. Nets remain top of the tree despite that loss, but sit just 0.5 games ahead of Philadelphia, whilst Milwaukee could still end the season top of the pile should remaining results go their way.
There were plenty of positives to be taken from Milwaukee’s success over the Nets on Sunday, not least the performance of the returning Giannis Antetokounmpo, who certainly made his presence felt at Fiserv Forum. The ‘Greek Freak’ dropped a season high 49 points against Brooklyn’s leaky defence, as he pioneered his Bucks to a third win from their last four outings to keep the pressure on the East’s top two. Another win over Brooklyn on Tuesday would see Milwaukee move to just 2.5 games behind their Eastern counterparts, as the Conference’s big boys tussle for position before the all-important postseason begins later this month. You can expect plenty more fireworks when the Bucks and Nets lock horns, with these two teams currently sitting first and second in the league’s points-scoring ranks.
Tuesday’s matchup could feasibly be a dress rehearsal for the Eastern Finals, but who will gain the mental advantage heading into this year’s playoffs?
A spot in the Champions League Final is on the line as two titans of European football meet in south west London.
In what was a thrilling first leg last week, Chelsea and Real Madrid played out a 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital to tee up a finely poised second leg in London this week. Having found the net in the initial meeting, Chelsea currently hold a narrow advantage, courtesy of the away goal rule, meaning a draw could be enough to send the Blues to the competition’s showpiece game. Moreover, much of their recent success has been built on an impervious defence, which has only been breached once in their last five outings. Another clean sheet on Wednesday would guarantee their progression in this competition, but can they keep Real Madrid’s potent attacking weapons quiet?
Whilst we often associate the Spanish giants with free-scoring football, Madrid have been misfiring of late, having failed to score in three of their last seven matches in all competitions. Whilst the onus will be on the visitors to break the deadlock on Wednesday, they will travel to the English capital full of confidence, having reached 16 Champions League Finals throughout the club’s illustrious history. Manager Zinedine Zidane will be looking to create a personal slice of history, as the Frenchman eyes progression past the Semifinals for the fourth time in his tenure at Madrid, which would equal the record for most Semi-final progressions by a manager. However, Los Blancos’ form on English soil has been dire of late, having failed to win on any of their last four trips to the country. Will it be a 17th Final appearance for Real Madrid or a third for Chelsea? Tune in from 7:00PM GMT to find out!
The PGA Tour rolls round to the hallowed turf of Quail Hollow this week where the Wells Fargo Championship will be contested.
Whilst the Wells Fargo Championship is one of the Tour’s newer events, having been conceived in 2003, it always attracts the biggest names in the sport, and this year is no different. With over $8 million up for grabs in North Carolina this weekend, you can expect to see all of the usual suspects thrash it out on the famous fairways.
For defending champion Max Homa, Quail Hollow will always hold a special place in his heart, with his 2019 win being his first trip to the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour. The American added a second win to his tally this year, as he took victory at the Genesis Invitational back in February. Will Homa be in the mix on Sunday afternoon?
Another man desperate to be in contention on trophy hand-out day is Rory McIlroy, who has had a frustrating time of it of late, having last won on Tour back in March 2019. However, the Northern Irishman has enjoyed unrivalled success at this particular golf course, and remains the only two-time champion at the Wells Fargo Championship. Furthermore, with his win in 2015, McIlroy shattered the tournament record low score, finishing up 21 under par, winning by seven strokes – the largest margin of victory in competition history. Will the four-time major champion make a long-awaited return to the winner’s circle this weekend?
As the greatest players from both the Men’s and Women’s games convene on the clay courts of Madrid, there is plenty of action to sink your teeth into on Friday, as the two competitions edge ever-closer to the Final’s.
Whilst only a couple of rounds of action have been thrashed out in the Women’s draw, we have already seen plenty of upsets in Madrid, blowing the field wide open. The most notable exit of the bunch would undoubtedly be that of number two ranked Naomi Osaka, who faltered in the Second Round against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic. Among the favourites left in the field is Romanian superstar Simona Halep, who remains one of the most successful players in the brief history of this competition. The world number three has already taken the title on two previous occasions, reigning supreme in back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017. The 2019 runner-up looks in fine fettle this time round, too, having cruised past China’s Saisai Zheng in straight sets in her initial outing. Will Halep go all the way this year to match Petra Kvitová’s record of three Madrid Open wins?
Whilst plenty of the Men’s game’s heavy-hitters have made the trip to Madrid this week, there is one standout contender who remains the most likely to reign supreme on home turf this week. One Rafael Nadal has enjoyed unrivalled success at this particular competition, going all the way on five previous occasions, with his most recent win coming at the 2017 edition. With the absence of 2019 winner Novak Djokovic, it would be hard to argue against Nadal being given the tag of tournament favourite, but will the Spaniard live up to expectations on the courts of Madrid?
The Giro d’Italia returns for 2021, with a time trial taking place in the beautiful city of Turin on Saturday 8th May 2021 at 1:00PM GMT.
After all of the disruption surrounding the 2020 edition, normal service will resume from Saturday as the world’s cycling elite contest one of the biggest prizes the sport has to offer. Ahead of the competitors lies a 3,479km slog to be contested across 21 stages throughout the month of May, as the first of the three Grand Tours of the season is won and lost. The first test is a 9km flat time-trial through the streets of Turin which will suit the abundance of sprinters within the pack.
No blockbuster race would be complete without a star-studded cast, and this year’s edition will certainly deliver on that front, as the biggest names in the sport head to the testing terrains of Italy. Amongst the most likely of the runners and riders to reign supreme this month is Egan Bernal, who will head up team Ineos Grenadiers, after reigning champion Tao Geoghegan Hart declared he would not be returning to Italy for this year’s edition. Whilst this year’s race will be Bernal’s first taste of the Giro d’Italia, the talented 24-year-old will head to Italy as one of the form horses, after producing a string of spectacular results in 2021. Having already taken home the 2019 Tour de France title, the Colombian is now eyeing a second major win of his career, but can Bernal open his Giro d’Italia account in his maiden appearance?
Next stop on the F1 tour is Catalonia where the Spanish GP will play out from 1:00PM GMT on Sunday.
The second leg of the F1’s Iberian swing sees the world’s driving elite head to the prestigious Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya where they will thrash out the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix. Last time out, Lewis Hamilton claimed his second victory of the new campaign at a canter, but the race wasn’t without its fair share of the customary dramatics. Hamilton was slow out the blocks in Portimão, slipping as low as third before his driving nous and knowhow came to the fore, overtaking both Valtteri Bottas and close rival Max Verstappen to return top of the pile and move eight points clear atop the Driver Standings.
Having hosted the Spanish GP since its opening in 1991, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has played host to its fair share of classic races, and Formula 1 fans will be hoping for another blockbuster affair this time round. Lewis Hamilton will have the opportunity to equal yet another record as he eyes a sixth Spanish GP win, which would equal Michael Schumacher’s record tally. The 36-year-old has enjoyed a four-year period of dominance at this particular race, winning four on the spin since the 2017 edition. Coincidentally, the last person to win this race besides the Mercedes man was his nearest rival in Max Verstappen, who took victory back in 2016 after Hamilton spun off the track early on. Will the defending champion make it five in a row in Catalonia, or will Verstappen make up ground on the championship front-runner?
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the Indian Premier League, with the defending champions in action on Tuesday as Mumbai Indians travel to face Sunrisers Hyderabad. The latter return to action on Sunday afternoon as they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore. England’s County Championship continues from Thursday, with Hampshire versus Somerset the pick of this week’s matchups.
There is a plethora of games to choose from across the NBA this week, with the festival of basketball beginning on Monday as the LA Lakers play host to the Denver Nuggets. The high-flying Phoenix Suns will take to the court on Friday when they will welcome the New York Knicks to PHX Arena. The Knicks remain on the road for Sunday’s matchup when they will take on the LA Clippers. The Lakers are also at home on Sunday when they will do battle with Phoenix.
Manchester City will take a 2-1 lead back to the Etihad where they will face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League Semi-final second leg on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Arsenal will look to overturn their 2-1 deficit to Villarreal in the Europa League Semis when the sides meet in north London on Thursday. The other Semi-final pits Manchester United against Roma – United surely have one foot in the Final already, after winning the first leg 6-2. There is an unmissable top-of-the-table clash in Spain’s La Liga on Saturday as Barcelona welcome Atletico Madrid to the Nou Camp. Two of the Premier League’s big boys lock horns on Saturday night as Manchester City take on Chelsea. There is a mouth-watering double header from England’s top tier on Sunday as Aston Villa face Manchester United and West Ham United play Everton.
The LPGA Tour travels to Asia on Thursday as the Honda LPGA Thailand plays out across the weekend.
The electrifying NRL continues with a Thursday night offering which pits the Rabbitohs against the Storm. There is another intriguing matchup the following evening as the Eels face off with the Roosters. There is a double helping of Challenge Cup action on Friday as Catalans Dragons meet Warrington Wolves whilst St Helens do battle with Huddersfield Giants. Two more ties from the same competition are scheduled for the following day as Hull FC take on Wigan Warriors whilst Castleford Tigers go toe-to-toe with Salford Red Devils.
This week’s standout clash from the AFL sees Melbourne thrash it out with Sydney Swans at the MCG.
The week’s initial offering of Premiership Rugby action will see Sale Sharks entertain Leicester Tigers on Friday night. Harlequins and Wasps will bring the curtain down on this week’s Premiership showcase when the sides do battle on Sunday evening. The Super Rugby Aotearoa Final will play out on Sunday as Crusaders meet Chiefs. Meanwhile, we have also reached the Final in Super Rugby AU, with the Reds going up against the Brumbies on Sunday.
Sunday’s a red-letter day in the world of Sumo Wrestling as we see the commencement of the highly anticipated May Tournament.
There is no shortage of NHL action this week, with the schedule starting with a Monday showdown between the Minnesota Wild and the Vegas Golden Knights. Attentions then turn to the Central Division on Saturday night when the Florida Panthers match up with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The standout series in the MLB this week features a Los Angeles grudge match, as the Angels entertain the Dodgers.
Undefeated Billy Joe Saunders will take on the pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez on Saturday, when three super middleweight world titles will be on the line.
A world-class week of sport awaits. Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Judd Trump, Milwaukee Bucks, Chelsea FC, Wells Fargo Championship, Mutua Madrid Open, Deceuninck - Quick-Step Team, Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team
Written and information correct on 2nd May at 9pm GMT
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