2018 is going to be an unforgettable year of sport in Australia. To help you keep up to date with the must-see sporting events of the year, we’ve put together a list of the top 10, from the ODI series against England in January, to the iconic Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in December.
Australia v England ODI Series – January
Starting at the MCG and finishing up at the WACA, the ODI series offers England an opportunity to claw back some dignity after the humiliation of the 4-0 Ashes defeat. On paper, England have a stronger one day team, but if they come up against Steve Smith in form then it’s going to be an uphill struggle for the visitors. With Australia sitting third and England fourth in the ODI rankings it should be a fairly tight contest, but with home advantage and Australia being the defending 50-over world champions, we can’t see the series going England’s way.
Our prediction: We expect Steve Smith to be the top run scorer across the five matches and for Australia to clinch the series 4-1.
Australian Open – January
Can Roger Federer defend his title in Melbourne this year, and with Serena Williams missing, is the women’s field wide open? These questions and more will be answered during two January weeks as the world’s best tennis players compete for the first major tournament of the calendar year. The men’s field may be missing former world number one Andy Murray who is recovering from hip surgery, but with Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Dimitrov all present, the tournament promises to be strong. On the women’s side, punters have heavily backed rank outsider Camila Giorgi. After reaching the semi-finals of the Sydney International, she seems to have hit form at just the right time, although we think winning at Melbourne is probably out of her reach.
Prediction: Ranked number one, Romanian Simona Halep could scoop her first Grand Slam in Melbourne, helping to ease the disappointment of losing the final of the French Open in 2017.
Australia Formula 1 Grand Prix – March
Once again Formula One will be heading to Melbourne in March with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton looking to defend his world title. The last two years haven’t been that kind to Hamilton, however – after topping qualifying the Brit was beaten to the top spot on the podium by Nico Rosberg in 2016, and his main rival Sebastian Vettel in 2017. Both Hamilton and Vettel will be going for their third win at the Melbourne circuit, but with Australia kicking the 2018 Formula One season off, it’s unlikely that a clear picture of the season is going to take shape in March. Early odds suggest that Mercedes will once again have the strongest car, with Red Bull looking to bounce back after their disappointing distant third in 2017.
Prediction: We predict a strong start for Red Bull at the Australian Grand Prix, so we’re backing both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen for a podium finish.
Quicksilver and Roxy Pro – March
For surfing fans, there’s nothing like the Quicksilver and Roxy Pro. The world’s best surfers will once again head to Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast in March to try and win the title and improve their ranking in the World Surf League. Thanks to the unique ‘super bank’ and Snapper Rocks, surfers can expect to do battle with some genuine world class waves. Names such as Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Gabriel Medina and Joel Parkinson among others are expected to be there in 2018, meaning the competition is sure to be fierce.
Prediction: Stephanie Gilmore looked pretty unbeatable at the Roxy Pro last year, we expect her to repeat her success at Snapper Rocks in March.
Commonwealth Games – April
The Commonwealth Games are heading to the Gold Coast in April, with over 70 nations competing. For the first time, the games will include both beach volleyball and women’s rugby sevens. The Commonwealth Games are taking place earlier in the season than usual, so you can expect it to act as a real motivator for athletes of all nations. Australia will be heavily fancied on their home turf, and as the most successful nation in Commonwealth Games history, currently boasting 852 gold medals, we expect the hosts to top the medal table, replacing England who came first in 2014.
Prediction: Both New Zealand and South Africa have very strong Men’s Rugby 7s teams, we’re backing them both to pick up a medal.
A-League climax – May
With the season roughly half-way through, will anyone be able to stop Sydney FC? Touted as one of the best teams ever to grace the A-League, it’s looking unlikely that they’ll surrender their lead between now and May. During 2017, the Sky Blues were about as close as you can get to an unstoppable force. Over the course of the calendar year, they won 29 league games from 35, gathering 91 points out of a possible 105. They also managed to score 61 goals while they did it, and with Bobo leading the scoring charts this year, it looks like 2018 could be just as successful for Sydney FC.
Prediction: Sydney FC may be running away with the league, but we’re backing the Central Coast Mariners to rediscover some form and sneak into the last finals series qualification spot in May.
Gold Coast Marathon – June/July
Japanese athlete Takuya Noguchi powered to victory at last year’s Gold Coast Marathon, coming home in an impressive 2:08:59 and all eyes will be on him to see if he can repeat his victory this year. Australia’s premier marathon is one of the most picturesque and flattest in the world. Passing along the stunning beaches of the Gold Coast and taking place right in the middle of Australia’s winter, it’s the perfect blend of scenery, mild temperatures and low humidity, making it ideal for running.
Prediction: Kenneth Mungara narrowly missed out on making it three wins from three at the marathon last year, finishing second to Noguchi by a few precious seconds. We’re backing Mungara to bounce back and claim victory this year.
Hamilton Island Race Week – August
The Hamilton Island race week is the biggest sailing regatta in the entire Southern Hemisphere. Taking place in the azure waters right off the coast of Hamilton Island, it hosts hundreds of yachts both from Australia and throughout the world. Taking place over a week, it has become a real social occasion on-land, with everything from beach parties to yoga taking place during the event. The real action, however, remains on the water, and many spectators will be keeping an eye on the IRC Racing division. Last year Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark managed to scoop a win while skippering NANOQ – can he repeat his success in 2018?
Prediction: Steven Proud’s crew will take some beating in the IRC Passage 1 division. We’re backing the Sydney crew to repeat last years success and secure a comfortable win.
Melbourne Cup Carnival – November
There’s nothing quite like the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Each and every year the entire city comes alive, attracting over 100,000 fans of racing to pretty much every back, restaurant cafe and shop. Last year the crowds saw the Melbourne Cup won in style by Rekindling, trained by Joseph O’Brien, Rekindling has been installed as an early favourite for the 2018 prize. With Rekindling giving everyone at Team Williams consecutive wins in Australia’s most coveted race, it’s going to be hard for racegoers to look anywhere else come November.
Prediction: We expect Order of St George and last year’s second-placed Johannes Vermeer to have strong races at the 2018 Melbourne Cup. We’re backing both of them for a top three finish.
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race – December
Matt Allen caused a bit of a shock in 2017’s Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, but few were more shocked than Allen himself. After being declared the winner, Allen stated that his achievement hadn’t quite sunk in. Allen, the current president of Australia sailing, had waited a long 34 years since his last victory on Challenge II. Back then Allen was Lou Abrahams’ boat captain, but the 2017 win was his first in his own boat. Next years event promises to be just as exciting, whether or not Allen will be back to defend his title, however, remains to be seen.
Prediction: Quest’s Paul Clitheroe and Bob Steel from NSW narrowly missed out last time around, we think they’ll go one better in the 2018 race.