With Rafael Nadal chasing an unprecedented 10th Roland Garros crown, and Stan Wawrinka looking to become the first Swiss to ever win multiple titles at the French Open, history is on the line in Paris on Sunday.
Here are the main talking points and key stats ahead of this blockbuster showdown.
MAIN TALKING POINTS
Will nerves play a factor?
It’s been three years since Nadal has won a Grand Slam title. Within that period, Wawrinka added two more to his tally – at the 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open. Nadal made his first final since the 2014 Roland Garros at the Australian Open last January, and walked away with the runner-up trophy to Roger Federer.
Can Wawrinka replicate his brutal form from his semi-final against Murray?
Since the start of 2014, each time Wawrinka has beaten a top-10 player at a Grand Slam, he has gone on to win the title in three of the four occasions this has happened. In 2014 Australian Open, he beat Djokovic (No2), Berdych (No7), then Nadal (No1) back-to-back to win the title. In the 2015 Australian Open, he beat Nishikori (No5) then lost to Djokovic (No1) in the semis. In the 2015 French Open, he beat Federer (No2) then Tsonga (No15) then Djokovic (No1) to win the title. In the 2016 US Open, he beat Nishikori (No7) then Djokovic (No1) to win the title. History shows that he can back up big wins at the majors.
Has Nadal been tested enough en route to the final?
This is not the first time Nadal has cruised to the final without dropping a set but it is the fewest games he’s ever dropped en route to the title match (29 games). Dominic Thiem was meant to be his biggest test of the fortnight – on paper – but the Austrian could not push Nadal to his limits. Some people think the Spaniard is lacking that one big test before the final but in Nadal’s case, the fact that he has spent five hours less on court compared to Wawrinka can only work to his advantage.
Is Wawrinka capable of hurting Nadal on clay?
The Swiss certainly has the power and the tools, but it’s worth noting that he trails Nadal 1-6 on clay with the only win he has coming in Rome 2015 when Nadal was far from his best. Now that Nadal has recovered his brutal topspin forehand, Wawrinka might have a tough time countering it with his one-handed backhand.
1 – Wawrinka is bidding to become the first Swiss player – man or woman – in history to win Roland Garros on multiple occasions.
2 – If Nadal wins, he’ll rise to No2 in the rankings for the first time since October 2014.
2 – If Wawrinka wins, he’ll reach a career-high ranking of No2.
2 – This is the second Grand Slam final between the pair. Wawrinka won their only previous won in the 2014 Australian Open.
3 – wins for Nadal and 3 for Wawrinka in their last six meetings against each other, since the start of 2014.
3 – Nadal is the third man in history to make 10 appearances in the final at one Grand Slam event after Bill Tilden (10 US Open finals) and Federer (10 Wimbledon finals).
4 – Wawrinka is bidding to become the second man in the Open Era to win his first four Grand Slam finals after Roger Federer, who won his first seven.
5 – times in his career Nadal has made it to the Roland Garros final without dropping a set.
6 – wins for Nadal and one loss against Wawrinka on clay.
7 – Nadal has won seven of his last eight meetings against top-five opponents at the Slams.
10 – Nadal is trying to become the first player in the Open Era and just second in history to win the same Grand Slam 10 times (Margaret Court won 11 Australian Opens).
11 – Wawrinka is trying to post his 11th consecutive match win to extend his career-best winning streak.
15 – Nadal is gunning for a 15 Grand Slam title which would give him sole ownership of the second spot on the men’s all-time list, one clear of Pete Sampras and three behind Federer.
22 – This is Nadal’s 22nd Grand Slam final. He has a 14-7 win-loss record in title matches at the majors.
23 – Nadal leads the tour with 23 wins on clay this season against just one defeat.
26 – five-set wins and 20 losses for Wawrinka after his five-set win over Murray in the semi-finals.
29 – Nadal has dropped just 29 games en route to the final. It’s the second fewest games dropped into a Grand Slam final in the Open Era where the best-of-5 set format has been played.
30+ – Wawrinka and Nadal are the first pair of players aged 30 or over to contest a Roland Garros final since 1969, when 30-year-old Rod Laver defeated 34-year-old Ken Rosewall.
32 – At 32 years and 75 days old, Wawrinka is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win multiple Roland Garros titles after turning 30.
42 – Nadal leads the tour with 42 wins this season against just six losses.
44 – years since someone as old as Wawrinka has reached the Roland Garros men’s singles final. The Swiss is the oldest French Open finalist since Niki Pilic in 1973.