10 Great sporting comebacks

Updated: 2013-12-29 08:24

(China Daily)

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1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Heat bounce back in NBA Finals

The reigning NBA champion trailed 3-2 in the best-of-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.

6. 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 150-run victory in the third match in Perth.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

(China Daily 12/29/2013 page12)