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Nice Guy Nishikori Defeats Great Guy Blake

Sunday, February 17, 2008

If I had not seen the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships final, I would have been extremely disappointed that American James Blake lost what appeared to be "his" final. Blake was defeated by an 18-year old qualifier from Japan who is playing only his sixth ATP event.

However, after witnessing the brilliant flash of play from Kei Nishikori, I'm not the least bit disappointed in Blake, just happy for Nishikori. He played beautifully, and quite honestly I don't know what else Blake could have done to defend his game. Nishikori defeated Blake 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. I think that Blake may have been just as surprised as Nishikoro was at his very sophisticated level of play.

Nishikoro was all over the court and hitting shots that would have zoomed by whomever was on the other side of that net. It was really something to see. And while Nishikori seemed completely at ease, he said "I was nervous in the first set." He obviously got those nerves in check in sets two and three.

On the final point, when Nishikori realized that he'd won the tournament, he was simply stunned. He was a bit apprehensive in receiving his trophy, as if it wasn't his, but he raised it in victory immediately.

Though it was hard to lower the trophy, Japanese player Kei Nishikori finally responded when the announcer said "Okay, Kei, here. Your fans want to hear from you. With total glee and the sweetest smile, the young man from Japan said, "Ummmm, I still can't believe it, I won this tournament. And ahhh, still can't believe it, I beat James Blake, I just see him on the, on the TV." Nishikori was genuinely amazed at his accomplishment. As the crowd laughed, even Blake had to smile.

"Thank you, this city, Delray Beach and the, all the tournament directors,....the ball kids,.....this is my best tournament. Ever, in my life." The crowd gave Nishikori a big applause.

"Thank you all the fans, cheering me this week. I'm just so happy right now, thank you."

You can't help but love a guy who is that genuinely grateful and surprised at his own prowess.

Nishikori will make a huge jump in the rankings come Monday. He will rise from No. 244 to No. 131 in the ATP rankings.

After receiving his trophy Blake said, "Thanks everyone for coming out, First of all, I want to congratulate Kei, his first ATP title of many to come, I think. Ahhhh,very impressive performance today, all week,.....this kid's got a very bright future."

"I can't seem to get that winner's trophy, so I guess I'll have to keep coming back until I do."

Posted by Shelia

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