Saturday, November 18, 2006

Shanghai: The Final Showdown

Roger Federer to Face James Blake for Masters Cup Title

Nobody, and I mean nobody, saw this coming. James Blake, the last player to qualify, has earned the opportunity to face the undisputed world No. 1 in the Tennis Masters Cup final. I may be wrong, and if I am, I hope one of you fanatics will post a comment to correct me, but this is the first time since Arthur Ashe lost to John McEnroe in 1978 and only the second time in tennis history that a Black male has contested a season-ending championship final. Just over a year ago, Blake was playing challenger events, and now, in his Masters Cup debut, no less, he’ll have a puncher’s chance to take the title. His performance against David Nalbandian in the semifinals was nothing short of breathtaking. Blake has all the tools and the talent to defeat anyone on any day, and although he has yet to defeat Roger, if he plays his game, keeps the pressure on, and resists his penchant for idol worship, he might shock the world yet again.

Still, Roger Federer is the overwhelming favorite. After his victory over his nemesis, Rafael Nadal, in an emotionally charged and intense semifinal, you might think he’d have a letdown that could affect his final professional performance of the year (he and Rafa are scheduled to play an exhibition in Korea in a few weeks). But I wouldn’t bet on it. Roger, whose name, fittingly, means “famous, noble warrior”, has the heart of a lion and the ego to go with it: two essential ingredients of all great champions. But he was pushed hard by James in the US Open quarterfinals this year in a match that he called his toughest of the fortnight. Roger will have to serve well and consistenly harder than he normally does because James stands right on the baseline and blasts returns off both first and second serves. But as I said before and mean again: the famous and noble warrior is chasing history and nothing or nobody will stand in his way.

Roger Federer in five sets


brooklyn1006 said...

For some reason, these guys in their outfits reminded me of an old Star Trek episode. But anyway, you're so right, who would have thought Blake v. Fed would be the Final match.

Craig Hickman said...

That's funny, brooklyn1006. Thanks again for stopping by and posting here!!!