Welcome the next instalment of what we believe are the top sporting moments from 2015, a chance to reflect on everything great which happened between May and August.
As we moved towards summer the biggest and best teams in Europe were competing for league titles and cup glory. In England Chelsea wrapped up the Premier League with three games to spare in early May. It was the their first title in five years and came in manager Jose Mourinho’s second season back in charge of the London club. In the FA Cup Arsenal thrashed Aston Villa 4-0 to keep hold of the trophy they had won the previous season. Over in Spain Barcelona were laying claims to being one of the best teams ever assembled by winning the treble of League, Cup and Champions League. After winning La Liga and the Copa Del Rey they travelled to Berlin to face Italian Champions Juventus. A 3-1 victory gave Barcelona their second treble in only six seasons and their fourth Champions League since 2006. The Spanish domination of European competition was complete with Sevilla winning the Europa League at the end of May. As with Barcelona and the Champions League, this was the fourth time Sevilla had won the competition since 2006.
The second grand slam of the tennis season got underway on May 24th in Paris. In the women’s game it was business as usual, with Serena Williams taking the crown. This was her third Grand Slam victory in a row and her third French Open win. There was somewhat of an upset in the men’s draw with Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka defeating Novak Djokovic in four sets. Wawrinka was seeded eighth and had won his first grand slam the previous year in Australia so it was not completely out of the ordinary for him to win in Paris. However with the form of Djokovic in 2015 there wouldn’t have been many people tipping the Swiss man to emerge victorious.
Tennis fans didn’t have to wait long for the next grand slam with Wimbledon starting just three weeks after the French Open. In what was becoming the norm for the singles game both Djokovic and Serena Williams were present in the finals. Williams added to her Australian and French Open titles by defeating Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain in straight sets. This meant that Williams now held all four Grand Slam titles for the second time in her career and set her up for the chance to complete a calendar slam by winning in the US Open later in the year. Djokovic faced Roger Federer in the final of the men’s tournament and defeated the all-time Grand Slam singles titles record holder in four sets. This was the 40th time the two had met and the result made it 20 wins each. It was also the second year in a row that Djokovic would beat Federer in the Wimbledon final.
For English cricket fans there is no better summer than when the Ashes is being held in England, and this year Wales. However after the 5-0 victory in the previous series there may have been many nervous English fans approaching the first test in Cardiff. The slow start made by England’s batsmen would not have helped these nerves with the team being reduced to 3-43 before the arrival of Joe Root. Root scored top in the test with 134 runs in what was the first innings of an outstanding tournament for the batsmen, ending up with him being named man of the series. England won the first test by 169 runs but were well beaten in the next test. A century from opener Chris Rogers and a double century from Steve Smith helped give Australia victory by 405 runs. The third and fourth tests were much more positive for the English team, with Joe Root again leading by example and leading the team to victory in both tests. The fourth test in Nottingham was effectively over after the first innings with Australia only scoring 60 runs. This gave England a 3-1 lead with one test remaining and the Ashes would return to England for the fifth time in seven series.
Throughout July one of the most picturesque and difficult sporting events took place. This year the Tour de France began in the Dutch city of Utrecht. The cyclists competed over 21 gruelling stages over 23 days with Englishman Chris Froome taking ownership of the yellow jersey on stage 7 and holding on to win the tour. Froome became the first Briton to win the tour twice after his victory two years earlier. As ever the shadow of doping hung over the competition with Froome’s performance constantly being scrutinised and repeated calls for his performance data to be released. Team Sky eventually relented and released the data which showed his physiological output during some stages of the Tour. Unfortunately the behaviour of numerous riders over the previous years will always place question marks over successful riders in the sport but for now we should enjoy and celebrate Froome’s achievements.