May 19, 2008 12:00 AM

In surveying tonight’s Dancing with the Stars finale showdown, pro dancer Jonathan Roberts says this season’s ballroom finalists “all have the potential to win.”

Roberts notes that if Kristi Yamaguchi wants to be the first female to win since season one’s Kelly Monaco, “she needs to put more of her personality into the routines and connect emotionally with the audience. She’s technically the best celebrity dancer we’ve ever had on the show. But we need to see more of ‘her.'”

Cristian de la Fuente is at a disadvantage, of course, after tearing his bicep while performing the samba on the April 28 show. He’s scheduled to have surgery on May 23.

“He and Cheryl (Burke) will have to be incredibly creative with their freestyle choreography,” Roberts says. “Having one arm and not being able to do all the lifts the freestyle allows is a huge disadvantage. But he’s upped his game to a whole other level since the injury, so it will be interesting to see what he will do.” As for Jason Taylor, his “smooth and elegant” moves have surprised Roberts. “For a 6 ft. 6 in. football player, he’s very subtle and strong in the ballroom dances.” Still, Roberts says, Taylor’s size could be “a disadvantage when it comes to the Latin dances because they require compact movements and speed.”

Who will win? Roberts is diplomatic.

“If a woman is ever going to win, it’s going to be Kristi,” he says. Still, “history so far on the show has been that the best dancers from the start — Joey Fatone, Mario (Lopez), Sabrina Bryan, Stacy Keibler — have not won. The most improved dancer has always won. America really likes its underdogs.” — Monica Rizzo

Lisa Rose/jpi

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