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Yearender 2018: France end 20-year World Cup jinx, Novak Djokovic returns to top

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic ended the year at the numero-uno spot in the ATP rankings for the fifth time.

 Yearender 2018: France end 20-year World Cup jinx, Novak Djokovic returns to top

Like the previous years, 2018 has been a dramatic calender for sports. The year was filled with major sporting events, individual achievements and unwanted controversies. As the year is all set to end, let us revisit all the unforgettable tournaments from the sporting world.

France win FIFA World Cup after 20 years 

One of the major events of 2018 was football's global showpiece event FIFA World Cup. The tournament, which featured 32 teams battling it out for the title in Russia, was filled with action-packed moments, beginning from a free-kick from  Portugal star striker Cristiano Ronaldo against Spain in the opening weekend.

The thrilling football event, which started off with Russia’s thumping 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia, ended in style as the two of the best teams of the tournament, France and Croatia, made it to the finals with the former eventually lifting the coveted trophy for the second time following a 4-2 triumph. 

The 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup also saw heavyweights Germany exit the tournament in the group stages while the likes of Spain, Portugal, and Argentina failed to make it past last-16.
 
Belgium clinch maiden Hockey World Cup title

Olympic silver-medallist Belgium created history by defeating former champions Netherlands to win their maiden men's Hockey World Cup title at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.  The top-ranked side eked out a 3-2 win over third-placed Netherlands in the penalty shoot-out after the summit showdown of the showpiece event ended in a goalless draw. It was Belgium’s second biggest international title after the silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The 14th edition of the tournament featured a total of 16 teams being divided into four pools of four teams.Hosts India, who were placed in Pool C along with South Africa, Belgium and Canada, knocked out of the tournament after going down 1-2 against Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

China emerge sporting powerhouse at Asian Games 2018 

China dominated the medal tally for 10th consecutive time at the 2018 edition of the Asian Games. The country finished with a total of 289 medals, including 132 gold, 92 silver and 64 bronze medals. Though China had finished with a total of 345 medal in the 2014 edition of the prestigious tournament, the nation has yielded better results in team events this year, especially in basketball, football and volleyball.

The 2018 Asian Games also saw North Korea and South Korea march under the Korean Unification Flag at the opening ceremony and compete as a unified team in some events for the first time ever. 

Lewis Hamilton clinches his fifth Formula One title 

British racer Lewis Hamilton bagged his fifth Formula 1 World Championship title after making a fourth-place finish in the Mexican Grand Prix in October. Hamilton, who 
previously won the world titles in 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2017, needed to make just a seventh-place finish in this season's Formula One to claim the title for the fifth time.

The Briton has now become the joint second most successful F1 driver along with Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio. He is now just two titles behind German driver Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven title.

Golden State Warriors clinch NBA title 

The Golden State Warriors lifted their second NBA championship title in three seasons following a 129-120 Game Five win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors, who defeated Cleveland in the finals of the 2015 edition only to lose to them last year after squandering a 3-1 series lead, were the first NBA team to win 15 straight post-season games en route to the championship this season.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant bagged the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award for the second consecutive time by guiding the Warriors to the 2018 title. 

2018 Ballon d’or winner

Croatian and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric ended star strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s 10-year-long stranglehold on Ballon d’or award by winning the prestigious trophy in 2018. The 33-year-old helped Madrid lift their third successive Champions League title besides also leading Croatia to their first World Cup finals.  He had also scooped Best FIFA Men's Player and UEFA Men's Player of the Year awards.

Real Madrid defend 2018 FIFA Club World Cup title

Real Madrid successfully lifted the FIFA Club World Cup for a record fourth time by thrashing local side Al Ain 4-1 in the final in Abu Dhabi, thanks to impressive distance strikes in either half from midfielders Luka Modric and Marcos Llorente. Madrid also won the last three editions of the tournament and have now moved ahead of Barcelona as the team to have won it the most times.

Not only this, Real Madrid also added another glory to their kitty this year as they became the first club to win three straight European Cup finals for the second time after  beating Liverpool 3-1 in the finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Novak Djokovic back on top after 2018 season

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic ended the year at the numero-uno spot in the ATP rankings for the fifth time, an improbable achievement considering an  elbow surgery in February and a woeful run of form on his return saw him  slump to 22nd spot in the world rankings in June. 

Following a reunion with his former mentor Marian Vajda, Djokovic began a storming comeback to the summit of men`s tennis as he went on to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to take his Grand Slam tally to 14. He also made it to the summit showdown of the ATP Finals, but  fast-rising German Alexander Zverev stopped Djokovic in his tracks to clinch a 6-4, 6-3 win. 

British swimmer Adam Peaty smashes world record to win European Championships gold

Great Britain's Adam Peaty broke his own world record in 100m breaststroke to clinch the gold medal in the European Championships in Scotland in August.The 23-year-old swimmer retained the title which he won in London in 2016 by clocking 57.00 seconds to finish at the top spot, ahead of Glasgow's James Wilby.

Peaty had previously posted a world record when he completed a 100m breastroke by clocking 57.13 secs during Rio Olympics 2016. 

Arsene Wenger bids adieu to Arsenal 

One of the most successful and longest-serving manager of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger announced in April that he would step down from his position at the end of this season, thus ending a near 22-year reign at the helm. During his tenure as a manager, the Frenchman also guided the club to three Premier League titles. Wenger was given seven-game farewell which included the last defeat at Old Trafford and a final European exit. 

However, his last game as Arsenal manager ended with a 1-0 victory over Huddersfield.