Japan Times editors selected these international sports stories as the most important in 2013.
1) The wait is over
Britain breathed a collective sigh of relief that was followed by an outpouring of joy as Andy Murray outlasted the world’s No. 1 player, Novak Djokovic, in the Wimbledon final to end the nation’s long 77-year wait for a British champion on the men’s side of the draw at the All England Club. Fred Perry had been last British man to win the tournament, taking the title in 1936.
2) End of an era
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson called time on his 26-year tenure at Old Trafford and retired at the conclusion of the Premier League season. Ferguson captured 38 trophies while at United and fittingly went out on top by delivering one final Premier League title in his final year on the touchline.
3) The truth shall set you free
Lance Armstrong admits to having doped during his seven Tour de France wins in a televised interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey on Jan. 18. Armstrong vehemently and litigiously fought doping allegations for years before finally coming clean. Armstrong is stripped of his Tour titles and also returns the bronze medal he won during the 2000 Sydney Olympics later in the year.
4) Boston Strong
A new manager and new attitude yields new results for the Boston Red Sox, who cap their worst-to-first turnaround with a victory in the World Series. The Red Sox, notably World Series MVP David Ortiz, also extends a helping hand to their city in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing in April.
5) A demise greatly exaggerated
Rafael Nadal pulls out of the Australian Open with an illness, and then proceeds to put to rest any questions concerning the health of his knee with a 75-7 season that includes his eighth-career French Open title and second triumph at the U.S. Open. Nadal also clinches the year-end No. 1 ranking with a win in the World Tour Finals quarterfinal round.
6) Never more excited
The Baltimore Ravens hold off a furious rally by the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl XLVII in February. The game marked the end of the line for veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, who retired afterward, and will always be remembered for a power outage early in the third quarter that left fans and players sitting in a darkened New Orleans Superdome.
7) The King and his court:
LeBron James follows up his first NBA title by taking his game to an even higher level, earning a second straight NBA Finals MVP Award and leading the Heat to their second consecutive NBA title. James carries Miami across the finish line in Game 7 of a thrilling NBA Finals by putting up 37 points and 12 rebounds in the finale against the San Antonio Spurs.
8) Battle lines drawn
Major League Baseball took a stand against performance-enhancing drugs by suspending 13 players for 50 games each. The crackdown begins with Ryan Braun’s 65-game ban, and is inflamed when Alex Rodriguez is handed a 211-game suspension, setting of a war of words and lawyers between the star infielder and MLB.
9) Go, Speed Racer
Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel wins nine straight races, tying Alberto Ascari’s record for consecutive wins, to close out the 2013 campaign and finishes with 13 victories in all, to equal Michael Schumacher’s 2004 single-season mark, en route to winning his fourth consecutive F1 title.
10) Icon exits stage
India’s Sachin Tendulkar, aka “God of Cricket,” retires after a career that includes 100 international centuries and his 200th and final test match in November.
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