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Or­a­cle Team USA’s mir­a­cle Cup

Few chal­lenges seemed as hope­less as that fac­ing Larry El­li­son’s Team USA when trail­ing Emi­rates Team New Zealand 8-1 in the best-of-17 se­ries in San Fran­cisco Bay in Septem­ber.

But the Jimmy Sp­ithill-skip­pered Team USA kept their heads, and, af­ter re­plac­ing their tac­ti­cian with Olympic cham­pion Ben Ainslie, dis­played vastly im­proved tack­ing and team­work to ride a huge wave of mo­men­tum into a win­ner-takes-all show­down.

Team USA duly crushed the Dean Barker-skip­pered Team New Zealand in the de­cider.

Nadal’s bril­liant year

Di­ag­nosed with a tear in his patella ten­don and in­fla­ma­tion in his left knee, Spa­niard Nadal was un­able to de­fend his Olympic ti­tle last year and missed the sec­ond half of 2012.

A stom­ach flu de­layed his come­back fur­ther and saw him miss the year’s first Grand Slam – the Aus­tralian Open – but af­ter a low-pro­file re-en­try at a tour­na­ment in Chile in Fe­bru­ary, he won an as­ton­ish­ing 10 ti­tles, in­clud­ing an eighth French Open crown and the US Open. Nadal also re­cap­tured the world No 1 rank­ing.

All Blacks com­plete per­fect sea­son

A shin­ing sea­son by a world cham­pion rugby team at­tained myth­i­cal sta­tus when New Zealand came back from the brink to de­feat Ire­land 24-22 in the fi­nal Test of the year in Novem­ber to com­plete the first per­fect sea­son of the pro­fes­sional era.

New Zealand trailed 19-0 af­ter 18 min­utes and 22-7 at half­time, but came storm­ing home to win and se­cure the All Blacks their 14th con­sec­u­tive win.

Scott shrugs off dis­ap­point­ment to win Mas­ters

Pun­dits had con­signed Aus­tralia’s Adam Scott to a life on the psy­chi­a­trist’s couch af­ter he blew the big­gest chance to win his first ma­jor at the Bri­tish Open at Lytham last year when he gave up a four-stroke lead with four holes to play and lost to Ernie Els.

How­ever, when pre­sented with his next chance, at Au­gusta in April, Scott sunk a 25-foot birdie putt to force his way into a play­off with Ar­gen­tine An­gel Cabr­era and closed out an emo­tional vic­tory, the first by an Aus­tralian at Au­gusta, with a 15-foot putt on the sec­ond ex­tra hole.

Heat bounce back in NBA Fi­nals

The reign­ing NBA cham­pion trailed 3-2 in the be­stof-seven Fi­nals se­ries and was five points down and 20 sec­onds away from be­ing elim­i­nated in Game 6 on its home court in June.

Of­fi­cials had started rop­ing off the court for the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion and spec­ta­tors were leav­ing in their droves when Mi­ami’s Ray Allen drained a 3-pointer with five sec­onds on the clock to tie the game 95-95 and send it to over­time.

Fired by LeBron James, the Heat closed out the game 103-100 to force the de­cider and re­turned to the court to seal back-to-back ti­tles with a 95-88 win in Game 7.

Aus­tralia takes back Ashes

Aus­tralia en­tered its home se­ries against Eng­land in Novem­ber af­ter a tu­mul­tuous year marked by abysmal per­for­mances on the field and strife off it. The Aussies had lost the first of back-to-back Ashes se­ries 3-0 to Eng­land in Au­gust, their worst re­sult in decades and one that fol­lowed a 4-0 drub­bing in an away Test se­ries to In­dia.

Mar­shalled by new coach Dar­ren Lehmann and fired by the re­nais­sance of seamer Mitchell John­son, Michael Clarke’s team stunned Eng­land with a 381-run vic­tory in the se­ries-opener in Bris­bane be­fore con­firm­ing its dom­i­nance with a 218-run win in the sec­ond Test in Ade­laide.

They sealed the five-Test se­ries two matches early with a 150run vic­tory in the third match in Perth.

Borus­sia Dort­mund sinks Malaga

Trail­ing 2-1 in sec­ond half stop­page time in the sec­ond leg of its Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nal in April, Dort­mund re­fused to lay down and die,. Last-gasp goals from Marco Reus and Felipe San­tana sent the Ger­mans through in a stun­ning fin­ish that sealed their first ap­pear­ance in the Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion’s last four for 15 years.

Pa­tri­ots win thriller against Bron­cos

The Pa­tri­ots trailed the Den­ver Bron­cos, fa­vorites to win the Su­per Bowl, 24-0 at half­time dur­ing their NFL reg­u­lar sea­son game in Novem­ber but came to life in the sec­ond half cour­tesy of quar­ter­back Tom Brady’s hero­ics.

Brady en­gi­neered 31 straight points to set up a dra­matic over­time fin­ish and al­low Stephen Gostkowski to kick the 31-yard field goal for a thrilling 34-31 win.

NZ’s McCul­lum fells Sri Lanka in four balls

A fi­nal-over blitz by New Zealand’s Nathan McCul­lum el­e­vated a rain-hit one-day in­ter­na­tional cricket match against Sri Lanka into a thrilling last-ball vic­tory in Ham­ban­tota in Novem­ber.

The bowl­ing all-rounder needed 20 runs from the last four balls to reach Sri Lanka’s 198.

McCul­lum smashed a six and a four off the first two balls from the hap­less left-arm spin­ner Ran­gana Herath, then blasted two con­sec­u­tive sixes to win the match and fin­ish un­beaten on 32 runs from his nine de­liv­er­ies faced.

Come­back king Ro­bredo in­spires at Roland Gar­ros

While Rafa Nadal took the tro­phy at this year’s French Open, it was the achieve­ments of a far lower-pro­file Spa­niard that lit up the first week of the Grand Slam.

At 31, Ro­bredo ad­vanced to his fifth quar­ter­fi­nal at Roland Gar­ros by mount­ing a record three con­sec­u­tive come­back vic­to­ries from two sets down. That made the Spa­niard the first man to achieve the feat since Henri Co­chet at Wim­ble­don in 1927.

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