I think all the Oofuri and H2 and Slam Dunk and ES21 have made me forget the most important thing to keep in mind while reading new PoT chapters: Prince of Tennis is not really a sports series. Sure, it uses sports as the setting, but it doesn't follow the structure of a sports series, it doesn't have the same conventions, the same tone. It's more a battle series and when I remember that and take a deep breath, everything works so much better.
Sanada vs Tezuka. I'm happy. I know it would have been amazing to see Tezuka vs Yukimura, but there was no way that was going to happen. Ryoma has already beaten Sanada. And he's the Prince of Tennis. Who else would be the one to play Yukimura?
Okay, that reasoning is all external to the story. Internally, I wonder if Tezuka was originally S1 and due to Ryoma's non-appearance they had to change the line-up. Though it makes sense for them to start with the big guns, since this is the final.
And now, more line-up & win/loss predictions.
Tezuka vs Sanada. Tezuka will win. Ryoma has already beaten Sanada and so Sanada can't beat Tezuka, not before Ryoma beats Tezuka.
Inui-Kaidoh vs Yanagi-Kirihara, for symmetry. Maybe. I think Inui and Yanagi have got to come up against each other again but I just don't think it can be in singles, not because of them, but because of how everyone else has to fit in. Kaidoh has to play, but I doubt he'd get a singles slot in the finals. Since Momo is off with Atobe, I'm assuming he wasn't in the line-up at all, so that leaves Inui-Kaidoh. Unless Kaidoh got paired up with Fuji for doubles. Which would probably lead me to posting a whole page of pink hearts. Anyhow, assuming Inui-Kaidoh doubles, they will lose. They've already won two doubles matches in the tournament, so they're due. And I won't mind, so long as it's a good match.
Fuji vs Yagyuu. Maybe. But Fuji has already lost in the tournament and I think this singles slot will take a loss, because the Golden Pair has to win. Unless, and this was the thing that made me stop in my track and wave my hands at my partner when we were discussing this on our walk last night, we get Dream Pair doubles and OISHI PLAYS SINGLES 2. I doubt it's likely, but, oh, it would be so, so, so cool.
And, of course, Ryoma vs Yukimura. And Seigaku will win. Though it would be funny if Atobe's mission failed and Horio had to play.
It's the finals. I'm happy and I'm sad. I don't want these to be the last matches we see these characters play. (Though I assume we'll get a Tezuka - Ryoma match to cap the series.) I want Kaidoh to play singles AND doubles and I want him to play doubles with Inui AND Momo. I want more tennis, lots and lots of tennis.
I don't want it to be over.