Weekly sports agenda: Dakar Rally, Africa Cup of Nations, Australian Open

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The Independent Online

Among major upcoming sporting events: the Dakar Rally starts the new year with a bang, famous footballers fly back home for the Africa Cup of Nations, and world tennis stars get their year underway with the Australian Open.

Horseracing: New Year's Day Meeting
January 1
Cheltenham, United Kingdom

Racing takes place from 12:25pm to 3:55pm at this annual New Year's Day meeting in Gloucestershire, western England, with both racecourse restaurant and bar on hand to aid in shaking the cobwebs from any New Year's Eve celebratory ramifications still lingering in body and mind.

Motor racing: 32nd Dakar Rally
January 1-16
Buenos Aires, Argentina

The 9,000km race for both cars and motorbikes starts in Buenos Aires on New Year's Day, winding its way around Argentina and into Chile, across the dry Atacama desert before finishing back in the capital over a fortnight later.

Soccer: African Cup of Nations
January 10-31
Various locations, Angola

Four Angolan cities, including the capital Lubango, play host to 16 African national teams who have made it through the two-year ACN qualification, which also doubled as qualification for the 2010 World Cup. Many European teams will have to go without some of their key team members over those three weeks, as high-profile players from all over the world fly to Angola for a taste of national glory.

Tennis: Australian Open
January 18-31
Melbourne, Australia

The first tennis Grand Slam tournament of 2010 marks the comeback of former World number one Justine Henin, whilst Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams return to Melbourne in defense of their 2009 titles. The AO website itself is staying up to date with competitors by corralling all available players' short Twitter updates in one place on the AO site.