Thrilling Olympic Upset – Blake Over Federer

Today fan favorite American and 28 year-old James Blake shocked the former world #1 Roger Federer by not only winning a set (which he’s only done once in eight previous meetings), but by dominating and demoralizing the Swiss’s usually flawless game, final score 6-4, 7-6…not even close buddy Tiger could help Fed this time…

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James Blake – USA Gold Hopeful?

I’m a huge tennis fan, and a huge James Blake fan…seems he’s the only American man left in Olympic tennis with a shot to medal…exciting, but the Olympics and tennis don’t seem to be a compelling match-up…Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny said it best in an interview with the ITF: “In all other sports they have four years to be ready for the Olympic Games. Tennis players don’t have even have four days. … It will be a tough Olympics for all players.” Maybe that explains why Roddick and others didn’t show…of this caricature of Blake a friend of his told me, “You captured his exact power and expression when your looking at him across the net!”… thanks, enjoy and good luck James! (Sports Illustration #36)

Primal Piston Fist Pump

It’s the current get-all-crazy-fired-up motion…Tiger does it, so does Rafael, I’ve seen Tom (Brady) do it too…the Primal Piston Fist Pump…here’s a few victory dance moves (chicken dance, lawn mower, pump-it-up), second of three installments of victory dance illustrations. How ’bout it, in the heat of the battle, or when the victory’s been won, what’s your personal favorite, go-to move? (Illustrated Sports #26)

Rafael Nadal; House On Fire

I remember thinking last year that Rafael Nadal made THE statement in his five setter against Federer that he’s for real, he’s here to stay and that he’s got the stuff to catch up to and eclipse Roger. Today he made it real with an epic, gutsy, champion’s effort. It’s amazing the strides he’s made as a Spanish clay court specialist, scratching and clawing to become so effective on grass. Inspired me to think of what’s possible with desire, determination and perseverance. Is Rafael here to stay? Have we witnessed the beginning on one of the greatest rivalries in sports? I think so…Congrats Rafa! (Illustrated Sports #25)

Can Kimbo Slice Win Wimbledon?

Okay, I know I’m getting my sports mixed up, but it was just a few weeks ago that Kimbo Slice “Once a hardened street fighter, now an MMA machine” (according to his website) came out of nowhere to front page sports news stardom…is this guy for real, or just another 15 minutes-of-fame Youtube video phenom?…I did this illo a few weeks ago…(Illustrated Sports #19)

Does Federer Have Tiger-Gear?

A year ago the debate was who’s the greatest athlete on the planet in their respective sport, Roger or Tiger? With Tiger holding on in epic form to take the U. S. Open but Roger without a Grand Slam title this year (losing in donut-hole embarrassing form to Nadal at the French) the debate now doesn’t seem as legit. Wimbledon, which starts today (Monday) will be the real test for Roger. This is his “home turf”, his dojo, his domain, where he’s won five times and looked flawless, like the best EVER. Will Roger trip and fall or have the Tiger-Gear that still sets him apart. Look for Roger to struggle, but rise to the King’s throne once again. (Sports Illustration #16)

Smackdown! Clay King Dominates Swiss Master

This kid Rafael Nadal is really quite a champion. Being a huge tennis fan, I remember Bjorn Borg’s amazing runs at the French, they were remarkable. But the fire and grit in Rafa’s game and the humble style in which he wins, even apologizing for trouncing Roger so completely (6-1, 6-3, 6-0), saying “Roger, I’m sorry…” during the trophy ceremony (a touch unusual, but definitely Rafa) is one-of-a-kind. Well done Rafa, can’t wait to see you at Wimbledon! (Illustrated Sports #6)