Here Comes Blake v. Djokovic

103803157 Here Comes Blake v. DjokovicIt’s going to be a collision course.

Novak Djokovic and James Blake are headed for a third round match. It’s an insanely great match for a third round. It’ll be in Ashe. It’ll be on CBS. It’ll be the talk of the weekend.

On the one end, you’ve got Blake: He’s a guy a bunch of folks wrote off (including yours included). He’s too old. He was never that great to begin with. Heck, he needed a wild card to even get into this tournament. Yet the one time Harvard student is back for a primetime match after the USTA sent him to the virtual-Siberia of the outercourts for the first two rounds. He has played brilliantly, and he’s giddily playing the role of elder-statesman. His press conferences have been full of “I have no regrets” and “If I were a younger player” and “If I knew then what I know now.” He’s a poor man’s Agassi 2005.

On the other end, you’ve got a Serb who was, briefly, a hero in New York. He ruined that in 2008 after he had a temper tantrum on Center Court after a quaterfinals victory over Andy Roddick and was booed off the court. He’s made measures to rebound from that, but the bottom line is Djokovic has accomplished little since his 2008 Austrlian Open victory. He has talent, but he still has to prove he belongs on the same court as a Roger Federer or a Rafael Nadal, or, even an Andy Murray.

He’ll have to get through a tough crowd and a feisty opponent, and Blake will have to prove that he can measure up, for one last time, to the pressure of playing at Ashe in primetime.