Day at the office

The French Open tennis tournament features the men's singles final match this morning our time. Rafael Nadal of Spain, who has won this annual event 13 times before, including seven times in the last 10 years, will be going at it once again. He has won 21 major, or "Grand Slam," championships in his career, the most of any man in modern times. A win today would be number 22. Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Roger Federer of Switzerland, the Snidely Whiplash and Dudley Dooright of the sport respectively, are tied for second place in that department with 20 titles each.

Nadal's path to this year's final round in Gay Paree has not been easy. He was challenged strongly by the young Canadian whippersnapper Felix Auger-Aliassime, and by Djokovic himself, en route to the semi-finals. Alas, in the semi's on Friday (Nadal's 36th birthday), what was shaping up as an epic marathon suddenly ended after three and a half hours when his opponent, German heavy hitter Sascha Zverev, badly turned his ankle and left the stadium on crutches.

Rafa's opponent today is Casper Ruud, a 23-year-old Norwegian who at one time was a student at the Nadal Tennis Academy. Ruud navigated his way through a much weaker half of the field, and though proficient on the clay courts, he is a heavy, heavy underdog against the King of Clay. If you bet $1 on Nadal and he wins, you earn a big 17 cents. But anything can happen, and that's why they play the matches.

Nadal is battling some chronic injuries, most notably to one of his feet, and he has mentioned with regret that this could be his last appearance at this tourney, named after a French World War I war hero, the aviator Roland Garros. Rafa is as fierce a competitor as ever, or maybe fiercer than ever, and barring some unforeseen dissater, he will be striking a familiar pose, lifting the trophy over his head, before this day comes to a close.