French Open final preview and prediction: Wawrinka vs. Nadal

Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka will be squaring off for the 19th time in their careers when they collide in the French Open final on Sunday afternoon.

Nadal is dominating the head-to-head series 15-3, including 6-1 on clay and 1-0 at Roland Garros. Wawrinka, however, has won three of their last six meetings and he got the best of their only previous Grand Slam title match via a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 decision at the 2014 Australian Open. The two veterans have not faced each other since last spring, when Nadal cruised through a Monte-Carlo quarterfinal encounter 6-1, 6-4.

The fourth-ranked Spaniard triumphed at Monte-Carlo two months ago for his 10th title there, accomplished the same feat in Barcelona, and he is now bidding for No. 10 on the red clay of Paris. He also triumphed in Madrid. All of that has a resulted in a 23-1 clay-court record in 2017, with his lone blemish coming against Dominic Thiem in the Rome quarterfinals. Nadal avenged that defeat without any trouble on Friday, clobbering the 23-year-old Austrian 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. He preceded that victory by taking out Benoit Paire, Robin Haase, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Pablo Carreno Busta all without dropping a single set.

Three of the four semifinalists were perfect in total sets this fortnight prior to Friday: Nadal, Thiem, and Wawrinka. The third-ranked Swiss rolled over Jozef Kovalik, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Fabio Fognini, Gael Monfils, and Marin Cilic before running into serious trouble against Andy Murray. Wawrinka came within four points of a four-set defeat but eventually survived the longest match of the tournament to date 6-7(6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1 in four hours and 34 minutes. Less than three weeks ago he was just 16-8 overall in 2017, but he is now in the midst of a 10-match winning streak that also includes a clay-court title in Geneva.

“Stan won the last event in Geneva and now he’s in the final here,” Nadal commented. “So he’s [on] a good run. He’s in the final. So it’s the toughest opponent possible here.”

“I think to play Rafa on clay in French Open in a final is probably the biggest challenge you can have in tennis,” Wawrinka countered. “He’s the best player ever on clay. It’s for sure gonna be really difficult. But [at] the end of the day, it’s the final; the pressure is on both players. No one goes on the court thinking he has no pressure. We both want to win the title.”

The 32-year-old has apparently never felt such pressure, as he as a perfect 3-0 lifetime in major finals (2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open, 2016 U.S. Open). But Nadal also has plenty of numbers going for him: he is 78-2 lifetime at the French Open with nine titles.

“Nine actually is my favorite number,” Nadal admitted after the semis. “But don’t get me wrong–I would prefer 10 over nine, no doubt.”

His preference will likely become reality on Sunday. The former world No. 1 bas been dominant at Roland Garros for more than a decade, has dominated this entire clay-court swing aside from one energy-deprived loss, and is extremely well-rested have lost a mere 29 games this whole tournament.

Pick: Nadal in 3

72 Comments on French Open final preview and prediction: Wawrinka vs. Nadal

  1. I think there’s more to come from Nadal. He’s proved all doubters wrong that said he’s playing style won’t hold up into his 30s, that be would burn out etc.

    He’ll be around for as long as Fed is around.

    • Whoaaaa!!! Congrats to our dear Rafa and all the Rafans. Condolences to those who bet big against him. As for the naysayers…:)

  2. God damn, how crazy would it be if Fedal went to on win every slam for the next couple years between them and both ended up with 20+ majors haha? I know it’s like a one-in-a-million chance, but who knows?? 🙂

    • Another record for Rafa. He has won slams in his teens, 20’s and 30’s! Only the third ma to do it, along with Ken Rosewall and Pete Sampras!

  3. I seriously believe that Rafa can end his career with 12+ RG titles… I really think that they should consider changing the name of the surface from “clay court” to “Nadal court”! Instead of saying, “So-and-so is really great on clay”, it should be, “So-and-so is really great on Nadal-dust”… 🙂

  4. Guess I couldnt have been anymore wrong. Atleast it wouldnt have made any difference if I went big on Wawrinka to take minimum 1 set, which I would have done anyways if I didnt go for the jackpot. Congrats to Nadal.

  5. Some joker was saying Wawrinka would win. When I and be were saying it would be a straight set. Wawrinka has power but only when he is allowed play.

    Never in doubt

  6. Personally IMO it would be preferable if Rafa were to skip the grass season. The change from clay to grass is tough for all players and even more so for Rafa after his herculean effort culminating in la Decima at RG. He should take some well earned R & R time and prepare for the American hard court swing.

    • I would be nice if he could win one more Wimby and DEFINITELY one more AO!! I will be soooo over the moon if Rafa finally gets the double career slam!! He absolutely deserves it, and he was so close, choops!!! I really dont care about RG anymore, leave it for the rest!! 10 of 15 GS to one tourney may dent his legacy if he cannot win any others!!!

      • I agree with you, Monalisa. I think Rafa could potentially make himself the undisputed GOAT if he can win some more non-RG majors. However, Personally, I think the whole debate is ridiculous because it is so subjective and there are so many factors and ways to judge how someone can individually be “greater” than the other top guys. I, personally, find it much more interesting to look at it as a five-man “Mt. Rushmore of Men’s Tennis”. For me, and I think most people, that Mt. Rushmore consists of Big 3, Sampras, and Laver. Then I consider there be a second-tier level of all-time greats that consists of Borg, Agassi, Lendl, Connors, and maybe Emerson (there are others who I believe are worthy of that second-tier such as McEnroe and Wilander, although I prefer the other guys).

  7. Dont want to get ahead of myself, but i think if Rafa wins another GS away from clay it would be either the AO or USO, IMO Federer and Murray will be the favorites at SW19 ….

    • Alison,

      I agree. I think it will either be the USO or the AO.

      I also think you are correct that Fed and Murray are the favorites for Wimby. I believe that Murray did well to get to the semis at RF and fought hard in a five setter. That is his best result by far. He has set himself up well to make a run at Wimby. We know Fed took time off to be ready for Wimby.

  8. An incredible performance from Nadal, to cap an unbelievable clay court season. It’s a shame Stanimus couldn’t turn up to make it a match, but it was a joy to watch Rafa play today, and even as I was moaning that Stan couldn’t raise his game I was applauding Rafa’s shots that were making it so difficult for him.

    Well done to all who called it correctly, and an extra congratulations to those who profited (and commiserations to those who didn’t).

    See you on the grass!

  9. 2008, 2010: Nadal wins French Open without losing a set, wins #Wimbledon

    2017: Nadal wins French Open without losing a set…👀
    …..it would be great!!

  10. I will not count Rafa out at Wimby! Personally, I think Roger took too much time out even if is his best surface and esp at his age, Andy is playing well but i think he is not as consistent as he was last year! We really cant call it at Wimby this year. Who would have thought that Novak would go down to Theim! I will just wait and see how Rafa performs in the opening rounds. There is nothing to suggest who will win and who wont! But I cant see Roger making it past wk 1, there are a lot of good and hungry players now wanting to claw to the top, plus many dark horses. It will be tough for all involved, no doubt!!

    • I am not conceding Wimbledon to anyone. I am not about to call Fed the winner even before the draw us out. I am not saying that Murray is all the way back. But he has definitely looked much better at RG.

      Fed did what he felt was necessary to be ready for Wimby. It’s not for me to say he took too much time off. We will have to see how he looks when he starts playing.

      I am not going to get carried away with the idea of Rafa winning Wimby. He just won his 10th RG. That is a great achievement. I am not counting on him winning Wimby. If it should happen, I will be thrilled for him. But I am not going to put expectations on Rafa.

      Even Uncle Toni said that they have to see how Rafa’s knees are on the grass. The first week is difficult with the slippery grass. It will also depend on the draw. If Rafa can get through the first week, then who knows.

      I actually don’t think Novak will be a contender. I don’t think he is in a place to contend for a slam right now. He has issues to sort out after that loss to Thiem.

      I am just going to enjoy Rafa’s victory today and let the future take care of itself.

    • Can’t see Roger making it past week one?! He is a favorite to win it!! Maybe THE favorite!! You must be trolling lmao. That’s like saying I can’t see Rafa winning the French next year. Gee whiz😅

      • Agree with Benny!…Oh!not about trolling!Nope!..but,about other things…in my mind..i’m already put Rog and Andy as the fav…with Roger maybe will end up with trophy in his hands once again…

        • I don’t think anyone could seriously think that Fed won’t get through week one. But I am not ready to pencil him in as the winner. Murray should be a contender. Then there are the dark horses. Kyrgios could do well. There is Raonic and Zverev. We could have some surprises.

  11. Tremedous milestones!!!
    A La Decima of a ATP 500,ATP 1000 and a grand slam. That is some consistency which means he has wiped the floor with players of different styles, big servers, grinders, experienced players, newcomers with nothing to lose, fellow hall of famers and has not been prone to upsets. He has been winning these tournaments when he had weak serve and also when the movement is not as great as it was in his initial years.
    If it were not for other hall of famers like Novak and Roger, he may well have a la decima at Rome as well! :O

  12. UPDATED career all-time prize money:

    1. Djokovic, $108,721,251

    2. Federer, $103,990,195

    3. Nadal, $85,924,269

    4. Serena, $84,463,131

    How comes Novak’s #1!! Really surprising!! I dont understand it!! Is that caused by inflation?

    • and also the fact that the GS have raised the money at the GS events and Novak is almost always at the business end of the tournaments lately

    • It’s a combination of inflation and tournaments raising their prize money in general. Novak has won so many big titles in the past few years, and prize money has increased so much at those big tournaments in recent years. Since Rafa and Fed won all but one of their respective slams before Wimbledon 2014, they haven’t been able to cash in on the super high prize money in the last three years. In that three year time frame, Novak has won 6 slams and had 2 runner-ups, and won countless masters titles including 6 IW/Miami titles which has huge prize money.

      • Thanks Kevin & VR, I almost dropped to the floor!! Seems unfair, lol, but c’est lavi!!

        They both have more GS than Novak and Rafa is tied on Masters! But it is so much more though, but I am almost forgetting that Rafa has taken almost two years off, so yes, it makes sense now!!

        • Nice to see you back monalisa. Wonder why RITB did not join us. At least just once to celebrate this happy day which has come our way after a loooong wait with umpteen heartbreaks.

    • Tignor, like several commentators today,. cited Rafa winning his first RG at the age of 18. He beat Roger Federer in the 2005 SF on his 19th birthday and went on to clinch his first Slam title 2 days later. Incidentally it was also his maiden appearance at RG.

  13. Congratulations to Nadal and his fans. Fully deserved it. He could still win at least 1 title at RG, but this was the most important right now – the 10th. Anything else is a bonus. The double digit is unique on this planet. I hope Roger wins Wimbledon, but I don’t think he’s the favourite. For me he has the same chances he had at Australian Open. This time a little more pressure, considering people have expectations after his excellent recover and dominating 1st quarter of the season. Who knows the way Raonic will play…

  14. If Nole and Muzz were their dominating selves as they were last year at this time, I would predict the Wimbledon draw with Fed , Rafa and Wawa in bottom half ( I assume seeding would be 1 Muzz, 2 Rafa, 3 Wawa, 4 Nole but not sure how the special grass formula could impact the seeding) and Muzz and Nole in top half. Now we know Muzz is playing well but lacks stamina. Nole too is playing well but maybe due to domestic issues could tank a match at any time. Also while Rafa’s recent record at Wimbly is dismal, there is talk of him making a push for the title here. So not sure how these new wrinkles could affect the rigging team’s view of a favorable draw for Federer.

    • I’m not worried about Roger’s seeding at all. Right now I would favor him against all the top four players in the world on grass given the lackluster form of Nole, the good H2H with Andy and Stan, and his win streak this year against Rafa that would probably continue if they played on grass. I’m more worried about guys like Kyrgios Raonic who are big hitters and are good on the grass. Especially Kyrgios.

    • Mary, it’s at this point -or at least at some point *before* the draw is made- that you should have a hypothesis about what would count as a favourable or unfavourable draw for the top players, Fed in particular. Then, after the draw is made, we can test your hypothesis. It won’t show anything conclusive, of course, but at least we’ll know whether the draw is confirming or disconfirming evidence for your hypothesis.

      • I don’t make predictions like you based on Joe conjecture or Joe Main fallacy. Many things have changed so I am not sure they will stick to the old model of Rafa and Djok in the same half which they have followed since 2011 whenever these two were not 1 and 2. Once again there is a shift in the big 4 as there was in 2011. So we have to see what the rigging team’s view is. Unlike you, I don’t think my view of what is favorable is what everybody thinks is favorable. I do not have enough data to predict what the rigging team thinks is favorable in these changed circumstances. I gave my opinion for Wimbly. It is not a prediction.

        • So you can maintain your view that the draw is rigged, without having to produce any hypothesis about what would count as rigging that might be confirmed or disconfirmed.

          How convenient.

  15. I think if Fed gets through week 1, he will be the favorite for the title. At Wimbledon, the first week is like a crap shoot where somebody with a mindless big game can win over one of the big 4. So a favorable draw is very important. As Fed is likely to get a favorable draw, he is likely to win Wimbly unless Sir Andy recovers his stamina. Zverev, Khachanov,Chung and Thiem are still to prove their mettle but they could surprise us with a run to the trophy. Kyrgios is not consistent. But he too is a contender. Dimitrov or Raonic have a chance if they are in form. Stan is always a contender in a slam though he hasn’t particularly impressed on grass but clearly he wants to. Rafa and Nole are question marks because of knees and marital discord respectively. But other than these players, I don’t see anyone else in with a chance( famous last words?). The rest of the players could cause an upset or two but I highly doubt that any one of them could win 7 matches.

    • Chung and Khachanov can not make runs to the trophy. Zverev and Kyrgios can. Thiem doesn’t have a great grass court game but he could do some damage I guess.

  16. There’s Cilic whom I think will do damage on grass. He’s doing well on clay this season and may carry that momentum to grass. I have him going deep on grass, maybe SF or even final at Wimbledon, if Murray or Fed fails to do so.

    My wish is for Rafa to continue with his winning momentum into the grass season, has a kind draw at Wimbledon and who knows, may get to win Wimbledon again, and ties Borg for three channel slams. I hope my wish does come true, for Rafa.

    • But if the rigging team wishes to preserve Fed’s legacy, Rafa will get the likes of Zverev, Kyrgios, Isner, Anderson….
      I agree about Cilic. He could be a contender. I forgot about him and Nishikori probably because they have disappointed so often after 2014 that my mind refuses to take them seriously.

      • They can’t rig the draw that way, it depends on their respective rankings. Also, Rafa has his improved serve to help him this time on grass. He’s no longer that nervy when it comes to serving his second serve.

        Rafa’s ROS will always be there, his big FH too, he has to hit it flatter though on grass (he hits as high as 4000 or 4200 rpm in the FO final if I remember correctly!). Rafa’s BH has improved tremendously too, esp that BHDTL. As long as Rafa has the desire and determination, he’s good enough to go far at Wimbledon with the sharpened tools he now has, imo.

          • And if he doesn’t? Does a lower ranked big hitter like Rosol (not necessarily Rosol himself) count as evidence that Rafa’s draw is deliberately being made tougher?

            Also, what’s the ultimately goal of the riggers in your view?
            1. To maximize Roger’s chances of winning?
            2. To minimize Rafa’s chances of catching his slam tally? (so make Rafa’s draw maximally difficult)
            3. To maximize revenue? (surely leaving open the possibility of a Fedal final is a no-brainer, meaning relatively easy draws for both).

            • I’m not sure you can get a definite answer here, it all comes down to ‘the draw riggers know what they want’ so that virtually any resulting draw leads to a conclusion of ‘rigging’. A good illustration of circular reasoning in action.

              Seeing as there are a ton of big hitters at Wimbledon, it’s almost inevitable that one or more will be in Rafa’s quarter, this will be considered ‘evidence’ of rigging. In the unlikely event there isn’t one in there, it may be presumed that the fixers did not consider it to be worth rigging Wimby against Rafa, or something.

            • If Fed gets big hitters in his half of the quarter i.e, one eighth , I would say riggers aren’t favoring him. Generally dear Fed gets an old player ranked 100 or worse in the first two rounds.

            • “”Any way you want to look at these, there is significant evidence here that these did not come from a random draw,”

              — Dr. Andrew Swift, past chairman of the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics in Sports and an assistant mathematics professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha

              http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/6850893/espn-analysis-finds-top-seeds-tennis-us-open-had-easier-draw-statistically-likely

              #CovefeIsEverywhere
              #ScovilleJenkins

  17. Cilic said he wished to be in top five this season, judging by how he plays so far, building up momentum for the quicker surfaces, and with Djoko still finding his way around, I think Cilic may get his wish this season.

      • Memory in sports is so short. No one is even talking of Nole whereas last year at this time he was holding all four slam titles and looked a lock for year end # 1. Everyone had taken it for granted that he would surpass Rafa’s gs haul and discussions were about whether he could surpass Fed. He looked invincible and now he is being written off. If he does manage to sort out his domestic issues, I am sure he will win the titles some posters here require to prove he is back. But his game is already back so anyone who counts him out does so at his peril. His loss to Thiem was clearly a tank job. Why did he do it. Only he and his confidantes have the answers.

        • Djoko didn’t tank the job, he simply lost hope after losing the second set. Djoko is clearly not back yet, and it’s not titles we are talking about, it’s the way he plays; he should be beating players he should beat, esp when he has a 5-0 lead over. Even if he were to lose, at least fight to lose with a more respectable score line; a Djoko without his fighting spirit is certainly not back yet; i.e. not back to his previous good level.

  18. Monalisa says on JUNE 11, 2017 AT 5:33 PM: “I was hoping they would have given Rafa an honourary trophy…”
    .
    They did. Rafa was given a full-size replica of the French Open trophy, with all 10 of his Roland Garros titles engraved. Uncle Toni presented him with it (Winners are normally given a miniature replica to take home):

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DCKmIRLXYAEMo9K.jpg

    Toni holds the original Coupe des Mousquetaires while Rafa poses with its copy:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DCKmKsrXkAEEVO-.jpg

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