There is a reason James Blake was ranked No. 1 and Andy Roddick was ranked No. 2 at the RCA Tennis Championships last week.
Blake held on to his singles ranking by defeating Roddick in the finals on Sunday 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5). Both players agree that they played their best match that week. Roddick racked up 17 Aces with his signature serve, but Blake answered back by breaking Roddick’s serve for the first time throughout the tournament. Blake also had an impressive 15 Aces of his own.
The first two sets left the fans unsure of who would take the advantage in the third set. Blake and Roddick finished the match with an edge-of-your seat tie-breaker.
The umpire had to quiet the crowd several times after it took to its feet throughout the match. Blake and Roddick awed their fans with impressive volleys, emotional outcries and competitive tennis. And, at times, it was unclear who the crowd supported, but in the end no one showed any real disappointment over the outcome. Blake and Roddick gave the people their money’s worth.
Blake moved up to the fifth ranking in the world after the semifinals on Saturday, nearly a year after he was ranked 210. In 2004, Blake broke a vertebra in his neck during practice after hitting a net post. Later that summer, he fell ill with shingles — a condition that impaired his vision and paralyzed one side of his face.
Blake said he finds it difficult to believe how far he has come since then.
"I hope no one wakes me up," he told the crowd. "I hope the alarm doesn’t go off. It’s been a great ride."
Blake is also happy to see Roddick back to his old self.
Roddick told fans that it is unusual to be able to say that he played really well and still lost, but he did.
Roddick played well later that day in the double finals with Robby Reynolds. The two had never played together, until Roddick called Reynolds up and invited him to join him in "moonlighting" on his typical singles matches. Roddick is the first player to play in both the doubles and singles finals at the RCAs since it became a hardcourt tournament in 1988. He is also the first to hold titles in both. Roddick now holds three singles titles and one doubles title.
Roddick and Reynolds defeated third seed Paul Goldstein and Jim Thomas 6-4, 6-4.
Blake took home $74,250. Roddick received $43,700 as the finalist and split $29,600 with Reynolds for the doubles title.
Volunteer RCA Championships Tournament Director Kevin Martin couldn’t have been more pleased with the afternoon. Though actual attendance was down, the number of ticket sales had increased. The tournament was able to donate $20 million to Riley Hospital for Children and $10 million to the National Junior Tennis League.
And he was certainly not disappointed in the draw.
"We had a fantastic balance of the best American players as demonstrated by the finals [Sunday], as well as great international players."
The tournament is the first in the U.S. Open Series. For more information visit www.rcatennis.com.