FIFA World Cup and Wimbledon conclude: Talking points from a big sporting weekend

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It was an action-packed weekend in sport.

The FIFA Men’s World Cup and Wimbledon championships both came to an end, while the Tour de France has reached its first rest day.

And in women’s cycling, the Giro Rosa finished in Italy.

Here are some talking points… and things you might have missed.

Mbappe fires France to World Cup glory

After over a month of football, 32 teams were whittled down to two.

France faced Croatia in the 64th and final match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

The Croats didn’t have an answer to French firepower, however.

In a six-goal thriller, France managed to score four, including a piece of magic from 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe.

The Paris St-Germain player wasn’t even born when France last won the title in 1998. He also became just the second teenager to score in a World Cup final, after the legendary Pele.

Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic headed the ball past his own goalkeeper to give France the lead, and although they drew level through Ivan Perisic, goals from Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and Mbappe put the game out of reach before Mandzukic grabbed a late consolation.

It was devastation for Croatia, who were playing in their first World Cup final (they finished third in 1998, having lost to France in the semi-finals).

While their captain and talisman Luka Modric was named the tournament’s best player, they ultimately came up short.

You can re-live the match with our live blog.

Kerber and Djokovic back to their best at Wimbledon

Ahead of the ladies’ singles final at Wimbledon on Saturday, all the talk was about Serena Williamscomeback from pregnancy.

By the end of the final, it wasn’t.

After a tournament of shocks that saw all top ten seeds knocked out early on, the American faced 11th seed Angelique Kerber on Centre Court in a repeat of the 2016 final.

The German won the Australian and U.S. Opens in 2016, but struggled the year after, dropping out of the world top 20.

But Kerber proved too strong for Williams, winning 6–3 6–3 in straight sets to avenge her 2016 defeat and end a tough run of luck.

“The last two years gives me so much experience, good and bad things,” Kerber said after the match. “Without 2017, especially, I would not be here.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Angelique Kerber of Germany poses with the Venus Rosewater Dish after defeating Serena Williams of The United States in the Ladies' Singles final on day twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Angelique Kerber poses with the Venus Rosewater Dish after defeating Serena Williams
in the ladies’ singles final at Wimbledon. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The men’s singles champion, Novak Djokovic, was also making a return to the top of his own.

The Serb spent 223 weeks at world number one but the 31-year-old has struggled with injury and his form since winning the French Open in 2016.

But he overcame a difficult five-set battle with the current world number one Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, before seeing off a tired Kevin Anderson 6–2 6–2 7–6 to clinch his fourth Wimbledon crown.

“I had many moments of doubt, I didn’t know if could come back to this level to compete,” he said.

Carnage on the cobbles of le Tour

We’ve now reached the first rest day on this year’s Tour de France, which was delayed by a week to avoid too much of an overlap with the FIFA World Cup.

Although the first week-and-two-days haven’t seen too much climbing, multiple crashes early in the race had already shaken up the general classification contenders.

And then came Stage Nine, 156.5 kilometres of ‘Hell’ from Arras to Roubaix.

The course included 15 sectors of cobblestones more commonly found in April’s Paris–Roubaix classic, popularly known in France as l’Enfer du Nord — the ‘Hell of the North‘.

John Dekenkolb won the stage, his biggest victory since a serious training accident two years ago. The German out-sprinted reigning Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet, with the 2015 and 2017 Paris–Roubaix champions battling it out for the stage honours.

Van Avermaet began the day in the overall leader’s yellow jersey, and while he was unable to win in Roubaix in yellow, he extended his lead going into the Alps.

But the real story was behind the classics specialists.

At times the stage looked more like a two-wheeled destruction derby than a cycling race, with the pavé causing havoc in the peloton.

Defending champion Chris Froome fell, as did his Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas. Other overall contenders Rigoberto Uran and Mikel Landa both also suffered spills, while Romain Bardet had to endure three punctures.

The biggest casualty of the day was van Avermaet’s BMC Racing team leader Richie Porte, who crashed just 10 km into the day’s stage before the cobbles and had to abandon with a broken collarbone.

Van Vleuten victorious again

While the men hit the cobbles to Roubaix, the Giro Rosa — the women’s Tour of Italy — concluded in Friuli.

Time trial world champion Annemiek van Vleuten won on the dreaded Monte Zoncolan on Saturday and took a 3:35 overall lead into the concluding stage.

The Dutchwoman, who led the Rio 2016 road race before crashing spectacularly on the final descent, broke clear towards the finish on Sunday and soloed to the line to add to her impressive palmares.

But there’s no rest for the Women’s World Tour peloton, as they all make their way to France for the one-day La Course.

The single-stage race is the closest thing to a women’s Tour de France, and will follow most of the route taken by the men on Tuesday’s tenth Tour stage from Annecy to Le Grand Bornand.

Van Vleuten is the defending champion. Can she continue her winning streak?

BMX legend Jumelin scores big in Edmonton

The latest FISE World Series stop took place in Edmonton, Canada, over the weekend. It included events in BMX freestyle park and flatland, which also doubled as part of the UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup.

French BMX legend Alex Jumelin was the only man to break the 90-point mark in the BMX Flatland final, showing that age hasn’t yet caught up with the 40-year-old.

Misaki Katagiri of Japan won the corresponding women’s event, while Australia’s Logan Martin took men’s freestyle park honours.

Elsewhere, 17-year-old Ikeda Daisuke won the skateboard street event.

Other things you might have missed

ITU World Triathlon Series Hamburg:
Spain’s Mario Mola claimed his third win in three years in the German city to extend his series lead. Frenchwoman Cassandre Beaugrand claimed a maiden win on the series in the women’s sprint race, while USA’s Katie Zaferes remains in the overall lead. Beaugrand then helped France to win the mixed relay on Sunday.

BWF Thailand Open:
There was a repeat of the 2017 World Championship final in the women’s singles as world champion Nozomi Okuhara beat P.V. Sindhu 21–15 21–18 in Bangkok. The men’s singles final was a completely-unseeded affair, with Okuhara’s Japanese compatriot Kanta Tsuneyama beating Tommy Sugiarto 21–16 13–21 21–9.

FIVB Gstaad Major:
Norway’s Anders Berntsen Mol/Christian Sandlie Sørum won the latest stop on the FIVB Major Series, part of the FIVB World Tour, with triumph in Gstaad, Switzerland. The women’s event was won by Canadian pair Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan.

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Author: ZK Goh
Olympic Channel news producer/reporter. All-round sports nerd.