By Jake Davies & Ros Satar
- Stan Wawrinka  vs Rafael Nadal 
PARIS, FRANCE – The culmination of the European clay court season is here – and what a final in store as Rafael Nadal goes for the ultimate La Decima, and Stan Wawrinka tries to stop him.
Rafael Nadal – Path to the Roland Garros Final
- R1: Benoit Paire 6-1 6-4 6-1
- R2: Robin Haase 6-1 6-4 6-3
- R3: Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0 6-1 6-0
- R4: Roberto Bautista Agut  6-1 6-2 6-2
- QF: Pablo Carreno Busta  6-2 2-0 RET
- SF: Dominic Thiem  6-3 6-4 6-0
It is fair to say that Rafael Nadal‘s progress to the finals as he hunts for a third ‘La Decima’ has been a bit of a breeze. No sets dropped and a retirement sees him come in fine fettle to claim an historic 10th title.
Stan Wawrinka – Path to the Roland Garros Final
- R1: Jozef Kovalik 6-2 7-6(6) 6-3
- R2: Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4 7-6(5) 7-5
- R3: Fabio Fognini  7-6(2) 6-0 6-2
- R4: Gael Monfils  7-5 7-6(7) 6-2
- QF: Marin Cilic  6-3 6-3 6-1
- SF: Andy Murray  6-7(6) 6-3 5-7 7-6(3) 6-1
After wat looked like a lacklustre start to his clay court season, Stan Wawrinka pulled it out of the bag once more in Geneva before arriving in Paris. He had not relinquished a set either until he reached the semi-finals with a five set thriller against World No. 1 and last year’s finalist Andy Murray.
Stan Wawrinka  vs Rafael Nadal  H2H: Nadal leads 15-3
Nadal has set his sights on a record 10th Roland Garros title this Sunday, but his opponent, Wawrinka, will try his utmost to prevent the Spaniard from chasing yet another memorable landmark win in his illustrious career. The 2015 Roland Garros winner Wawrinka comes into this match with confidence after winning the Geneva title and then winning five matches without dropping a set coming into the semi-finals against Murray.
Nadal, a nine-time winner of this event, has looked in imperious form for large portions of the clay court swing and will be hoping to put on a perfect display in what will be a Roland Garros final to remember. The statement win over Dominic Thiem, where he avenged his loss to the same opponent in Rome, shows that he means business and will not stop until he gets ‘La Decima.’
The head-to-head has favoured Nadal over the years, but one thing that has to be considered is Wawrinka’s undeniable improvement psychologically under the tutelage of Magnus Norman, who has overlooked three Grand Slam title wins for his charge. Nadal won the first twelve meetings against Wawrinka, but that changed dramatically at the 2014 Australian Open final, where the Swiss did the unthinkable and captured a first slam title.
The goal for Nadal on Sunday will be to prevent Wawrinka from stepping inside the baseline and taking on big cuts of the backhand. It will be interesting to see if Wawrinka incorporates a similar approach to what Roger Federer did so successfully in the 2017 Australian Open final. Federer realised his backhand was not holding up in many match-ups against Nadal, so he took the ball early and subsequently took time away from Nadal, which helped him enormously in that final.
Nadal comes in as the favourite because of everything he has achieved at this tournament and on clay. Nadal is undefeated in Roland Garros finals, but Wawrinka has yet to taste defeat in a single Grand Slam final, which sets up this final nicely. Something has got to give!
Prediction: Nadal in four sets.
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