Weekly sports agenda: The Dakar and Monte Carlo Rallies, African Cup of Nations, and Australian Open

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Among major upcoming sporting events: The Dakar Rally hurtles through Argentina and Chile, the Intercontinental Rally Challenge starts up in wintry Monte Carlo, sporting superstars head to Angola for soccer's Africa Cup of Nations, and the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the 2010 ATP Tour is hosted in Melbourne, Australia.

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

The 9,000 km 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.

Tennis: Hopman Cup XXII
January 2-9
Perth, Australia

The Hopman Cup is an international mixed singles and doubles invitational tournament for teams of two. Each team's men play each other, as do the women, and then both pairs match up for mixed doubles. Among the top players appearing in the 2010 tournament will be women's singles #5 Elena Dementieva, women's doubles #6 Maria Sanchez and #7 Samantha Stosur, ex-men's singles #1 Lleyton Hewitt and current #4 Andy Murray.
Tickets: AUD $17 (€11/$16) - AUD $105 (€65/$95)

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

Many European teams will have to go without key players as Africa welcomes them back for the Cup of Nations every two years. This time Angola hosts, and four cities including the capital Lubango stage the 16 African national teams who have made it through a two-year qualification. Tickets are on sale in branches of the national banks BPC (Banco de Poupança e Crédito) and BAI (Banco Africano de Investimentos).
Tickets: Standard tickets from 250 Kwanzas (€2/$3) to 1040 Kz (€8/$12); hospitality boxes from 35,000 Kz (€273/$392) to 50,000 Kz (€390/$560).

Tennis: Australian Open
January 18-31
Melbourne, Australia

The first tennis Grand Slam tournament of 2010 marks the comeback of former World #1 Justine Henin, whilst Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams return to Melbourne in defense of their 2009 titles. The official website itself is staying up to date with competitors by corralling all their official twitter updates for easy access to the public.
Tickets: From AUD $20 (€13/$18) for an evenings-only ground pass to AUD $289 (€180/$260) for the final.

Motor sport: Monte Carlo Rally
January 20-22
Monte Carlo, Monaco

The Monte Carlo Rally is the first in the 2010 season of the 12-round Intercontinental Rally Challenge that takes place in South American and Mediterranean countries, with a few stages in Scotland and Italy in the second half of the year. The Monte Carlo stages were introduced in 2009 after it left the World Rally Championship itinerary but remain as tough as ever. As with many motor rallies, spectators can line the route at supervised points, and those at Monte Carlo have been known to throw extra snow and ice onto the course surface.

Swimming: World Winter Swimming Championships
January 22-24
Bled, Slovenia

Over 600 participants from 20 nations will be taking part in the WWSCs in Lake Bled, in a series of competitive and non-competitive races. As well as breaststroke, freestyle, and relay races, there is a special endurance swim and a performance category scheduled to round off the championships on Sunday 24. As such, the WWSCs serve as a celebration of cold-water swimming and a precursor to the Winter World Masters which take place in Bled the following week.
Entry fee: €30 for individuals, €100 for teams

Athletics: Winter World Masters Games
January 25-31
Bled, Slovenia

The World Masters differ from the Olympics in two major ways. Firstly, anyone can register for participation, as long as they are over 25 years old. Secondly, national representation is not permitted: teams must be multinational. The World Masters pull in athletes of all ages, shapes and sizes, and the Winter World Masters are no exception. Seventy-year-old gymnast Miroslav Cerar, alpine skiers Christian Mayer (38), Jure Košir (37) and Urška Hrovat (34), and pro cyclist Tadej Valjavec (32) are among the Slovenian Olympians joining amateur athletes and fun-lovers alike in a variety of sports such as ice hockey, biathlon, ski-jumping, cross country and alpine skiing.

Extreme sports: Winter X Games
January 28-31
Aspen, Colorado, USA

The Winter X Games, a 1997 off-shoot from ESPN's 1995, moves into its 14th year with an event that is free entry to the public and adding the Ski SuperPipe High Air and Snowmobile Knock Out events to its roster that includes the now-standard extreme style snowboarding and skiing events. Defending SuperPipe snowboard champ Torah Bright has already stated her intention of completing a Double Cork trick, turning a full 900° in an off-axis spin. Meanwhile, last year's snowmobile gold medallist Joe Parsons has combined a breathtaking backwards-landed backflip and 180° spin in a bid to retain his title.