2019 Prediction: Breakthrough year for Next Gen, Leclerc to upstage Vettel

Sport360 staff 09:07 01/01/2019
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Alexander Zverev.

While 2018 was excellent, we foresee a lot more in 2019. There is the promise of great upsets, epic fightbacks and stunning storylines.

So what can sports fans expect in the New Year? Will we witness unheralded sides emerge as champions? Will a major team fall from grace as was the case with Australia following the ball-tampering scandal?

Here, Sport360’s writers hazard a guess as to what can happen in 2019.

AJIT VIJAYKUMAR

Breakthrough year for Next Gen

After many false dawns, it looks like 2019 might just be the year when the next Generation of men’s tennis stars finally come out of the shadows of the Big Four. Alexander Zverev stunned Novak Djokovic to win the season-ending ATP Finals and he will lead a bunch of talented youngsters aiming to break the stronghold of the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic on the majors.

BRENDON NETTO

Leclerc to outscore Vettel

Sebastian Vettel should remain Ferrari’s No1 driver for 2019 but in Charles Leclerc he will have a competitive new team-mate. The 21-year-old impressed with Sauber in his debut season, securing 10 top-10 finishes in a car that should never have been capable of that. He’s still learning and Vettel has experience but 2018 exposed some of the German’s shortcomings. Vettel struggled with Daniel Ricciardo in a similar scenario in 2014.

MATT MONAGHAN

Sharjah to win 2018/19 AGL

Could the King finally reclaim their crown? Sharjah have come from nowhere to sit top of the UAE top flight, going unbeaten during the first half of a delightful campaign. The attacking flourishes from Igor Coronado and Ryan Mendes make them a team to get behind in the remaining months of 2018/19. It’s 23 seasons since they finished first. They will be welcome winners if this run is ended.

NIALL MCCAGUE

Tommy Fleetwood to win a first major

The 27-year-old is a four-time winner on the European Tour and has all the tools to be a force for years to come. His stunning final round 63 at the US Open and his 62 at the BMW Championship in Aronimink are examples of the damage he can do when in control. He also had six top-10s in 19 tournaments and won four of his five matches at the Ryder Cup. Expect the Southport native to seal a first major this year.

SOORAJ KAMATH

Lionel Messi to retire after experiencing belated success

An international trophy has always eluded the Argentina superstar. The 31-year-old has ended up on the losing side in the finals of four major tournaments with the national team. The failures with La Albiceleste had forced him to take a temporary retirement in 2016 but he could be gone for good after the 2019 Copa America. Surely not before he drags this mediocre side to glory?

ASHISH PETER

Afghanistan to make a splash

Afghanistan’s meteoric rise in the world of cricket has continued in 2018 with the team making its Test bow against India. The Asghar Afghan-led side took rapid strides in international cricket with a comprehensive bilateral series win over Bangladesh and gave the subcontinent’s powerhouses in India and Pakistan an almighty scare in the Asia Cup. Expect Afghanistan to make a giant killing in the 2019 World Cup.

CHRIS BAILEY

England to win the Rugby World Cup

Listen, it’s not that much of a long shot. Eddie Jones has seemingly got his fire back after a strong autumn and only a questionable call (surprise) denied them victory over the All Blacks. They were missing some 15 players through injury too. If long-term absentees come back to fortify the pack, England will be on a collision course with NZ again in the semis. An England v Ireland final? Tasty, and it won’t be the outcome you expect.

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