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Monday 16th January: The sporting week ahead

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Posted by Barry B on 16 January 2012 at 11:13 AM

This week sees us pass the halfway point of January’s sporting endeavour – and with it comes five major sporting events that you absolutely mustn’t miss. Here’s our rundown of everything you should be following in the next seven days.

TENNIS: Australian Open (16th – 29th January)

Today sees the world’s best tennis players head down under for the Australian Open, where Novak Djokovic will be aiming to follow his scintillating 2011 with the defence of his crown. With question marks lingering over Nadal’s fitness, fingers pointing at the resurgence of Roger Federer and expectations poised around Andy Murray’s much talked-about teamup with Ivan Lendl, it’s sure to be a cracker.

SNOOKER: The Masters (15th – 22nd January)

This year’s Masters promises to be full of thrills, spills and multicoloured balls as defending champion Judd Trump hopes to throw Stuart Bingham off his tail in today’s opening round. With the sport currently undergoing something of a revival it’s hard to pick a favourite, but the move to London’s Alexandra Palace should ensure a tense atmosphere for all those involved.

WATER POLO: European Championships (16th – 29th January)

The Championships might be European but with 7 out of the 8 World Championship finalists present we’re guaranteed fireworks in the pool. Defending champions Croatia will be looking to dismiss World Champions Italy and World League winner’s Serbia – and in the Women’s competition the Dutch hosts will be looking to justify the attention water polo has received in the country as they take on the challenging trio of Russia, Hungary and Great Britain.

FOOTBALL: Africa Cup of Nations (21st January – 12th February)

Co-hosted by Gabon and Equitorial Guinea will see 16 teams battle it out across two weeks – with the tournament containing more minnows and first-time participants than ever before. While Senegal, Ghana and Ivory Coast might be favourites (in no small part thanks to the Premier League’s Didier Drogba up-front) they’ll be looking to avoid an upset from lowly Niger who stunned everyone as winners of their qualifying group.

HANDBALL: Men’s European Championships (15th – 29th January)

As one of Europe’s most popular sports, Serbia plays host to the Men’s European Handball championships. With France arriving as red-hot favourites, it’s hard to see who might challenge them for the title, although Hungary, Spain and Russia will be doing all in their power to obstruct their progress.

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