Nadal vs Wawrinka to face off in the ultimate battle for the French title
Now, we haven’t covered much of this year’s edition of the French Open, but don’t judge us. We left the best for last, and that is the final this Sunday.
Of course, the last two weeks have been bumpy rides for some players. Recent sensation Alexander Zverev left the Paris capital after losing to Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco in the first round. “Baby Federer” (more like “Parody Federer”) Grigor Dimitrov also collapsed in the third round, following a spectacular performance at this year’s Australian Open. Further into the second week, Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils both left the courts after playing some excellent tennis, yet lacking the energy to see their matches through. Perhaps the most surprising exit was the reigning champion’s on Wednesday. Following the trend of small ups and huge downs that has been going on for almost a year, Novak Djokovic failed to defend his title in Paris. After being knocked out 3 sets to 1 from future legend Dominic Thiem, losing the last set 6-0, Djokovic’s dominanceof having all four Grand Slam titles at once last year transitioned to having none of them now. Furthermore, on Monday he will be officially dropping down to No.3 on the ATP Ranking. But Novak’s failures will be left for a future post.
After two phenomenal semi-finals we saw Stan “The Man” Wawrinka outplay world No. 1 Andy Murray 7-6 3-6 7-5 6-7 1-6 to book his fourth Grand Slam final. On the other side, resurging Rafael Nadal faced off with his heir to the clay court throne Dominic Thiem, ending in a 6-3 6-4 6-0 sweep for the Spaniard legend. Now, court Philippe-Chartrier is awaiting the two finalists for what is to be their 19th match-up, with Nadal leading the way with 16 victories in those match-ups. However, it is not the case to count the Swiss maestro out yet. Here is why.
Wawrinka has been phenomenal this year, having a record of 20-8, with only three losses coming on clay court. On this year’s French Open, he has recorded ground-breaking wins against opponents such as Fabio Fognini and Marin Cilic. Before his semi-final against Murray on Friday, Wawrinka did not concede a set for the whole tournament. He is entering Sunday’s match fresh off a 6-1 demolition of the world No. 1. Furthermore, the Swiss has a 100% success in all three of his Grand Slam finals. In 2014, at the Australian Open, he beat Nadal in four sets. In 2015, at Rolland Garros, he denied Djokovic in four sets. In 2016, at the US Open, where again he defeated Djokovic in four. As he has proven, Stan “The Man” does not shy away from big moments, and defying Rafa Nadal at the French Open itself is a pretty big moment.
Finally, Nadal has way more to lose in the final. Not that he has to prove anything to anyone, I mean the guy has won this tournament nine times! As he said after his win against Theim on Friday “Nine is my favourite number. But again, don’t get me wrong. I would prefer ten over nine, no doubt.” (MyATP.com) However, following his absence last season and his deep run at the Australian Open (he lost to also resurging Roger Federer in five sets), the man has still to show his dominant comeback as a Grand Slam winner. Don’t get me wrong: following an amazing 36-6 record this year – losing only to great players such as Federer, Thiem and Roanic – Nadal has been extraordinary this season. He hasn’t been shying away from the big projectors either, so he would be embracing Sunday’s final as a coming home party.
It is just left to see whether Stan Wawrinka will ruin that party or not.
The Rolland Garros final will start Sunday 11th June at 4:00pm Eastern European Time.