Stanislas Wawrinka stands between Rafael Nadal and a 10th French Open title on Sunday.
The duo will meet in the men’s final at Roland Garros. Wawrinka, the No. 3 seed, was involved in a five-set epic against Andy Murray in the semi-finals, while No. 4 seed Nadal breezed past Dominic Thiem.
It makes Nadal a heavy favourite to clinch La Decima at the French Open, although the Swiss should never be ruled out in a Grand Slam final. Here are the key viewing details for one of the highlights of the sporting year and a preview of how this one will go.
Date: Sunday, June 11
Time: 2 p.m. (BST), 9 a.m. (ET)
TV: Eurosport 1 (UK), NBC Sports (U.S.)
Nadal Chasing 10th Title
When Nadal burst on to the tennis scene by winning the French Open in 2005, the world knew he was a special talent, but few would have anticipated he would have showed such longevity at Roland Garros.
The Spaniard has been immaculate in the 12 years since that tournament, winning a further eight finals in Paris and forging his reputation as the best clay-court player in history. A victory against Wawrinka would put the gloss on that tag.
While he hasn’t won the title at Roland Garros since 2014, Nadal has put together a stunning run of form this year, as noted by Christopher Clarey of the New York Times:
At 31, the 14-time Grand Slam winner may not boast the dynamism he had when he emerged as a teenager. But Nadal is so powerful and so ruthless on this surface; points don’t need to be long when you are as adept as he is at hitting players off the court.
One man who may be able to stand up to the barrage from Nadal is Wawrinka, a champion at Roland Garros in 2015.
Against Murray, the Swiss dug deep to come back twice, and in the final set, he produced his best tennis. Wawrinka’s fizzing backhand and incredible durability are weapons against any player on any surface, even Nadal at Roland Garros.
The man himself was delighted to come through the other side of his draining match with Murray as the winner:
Although there may be some tiredness in the Swiss’ legs, there’s a steeliness to Wawrinka that comes through at this stage of a tournament.
In his three Grand Slam finals so far, you could argue he’s been the underdog. However, he’s brought his best to the court in them all.
Additionally, as noted by Jose Morgado of Record, Nadal has a stellar record of his own on Sunday:
Something has to give in that sense, and although Wawrinka has a reputation for stepping it up under pressure, Sunday’s challenge is the biggest of his career.
Not only is Nadal in imperious form, but he’s dispatched of all his opponents with ease. He’s won every set he’s played at the 2017 French Open, with none of those stanzas going beyond six games. It’s difficult to find any areas of weakness in his game.
There’s no doubt Wawrinka will be the toughest opponent Nadal has faced this year, and the No. 3 seed has it in him to take a set off the Spaniard if he settles into one of his devastating grooves. Yet following what will be a punishing final, the King of Clay will be polishing a French Open crown for a 10th time.
Prediction: Nadal in four sets.