Rafa is into his tenth French Open final in his career. He has a chance to claim his third La Decima on Sunday against Stan Wawrinka. Will he do it, or will the Stanimal show up? Let’s take a look at how he got here first.
First Round, No Problems
Rafa breezed past Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-4, 6-1. Fresh off a loss to Thiem at the Rome Open, Nadal quickly recovered, dominating Paire with his heavy topspin groundstrokes, relentlessly pounding him from the baseline. If you’re looking for a practically certain bet, look no further than Nadal’s first rounds at Roland Garros.
No Chance For Haase
Nadal left Haase with no chance, making a statement to the rest of his competition with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over the Dutchman. If there were any doubts about Nadal’s physical state, they were eliminated as the Spaniard cruised to an easy second round win, facing no break points and making only 13 unforced errors the entire match.
Close, But No Cigar
Basilashvili will have a hard time forgetting that one. Just one game away from a triple bagel, the Spaniard emerged victorious once again with a 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 win over the Georgian. It was a clinical performance from Rafa, who lost just eight points in the entirety of the first set. If this isn’t an indicator of how difficult it is to play Nadal, let alone beat him, on clay, then I don’t know what is.
Battles of the Spanish
Nadal faced two Spanish compatriots in the following two rounds — Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreño Busta. Let’s just say it wasn’t close.
In his first match against Roberto Bautista Agut, Nadal dropped just five games in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win. Agut had absolutely no weapons to hurt Nadal with, and it was obvious from the start that the matchup wasn’t going to be difficult for Rafa. Agut is a grinder, and there’s no way to outgrind Rafa, especially on his favorite surface.
The second looked to be a bit closer, but it was ended abruptly after Busta was forced to retire early in the second set after suffering an abdomen injury. It looked like Pablo would pose a more difficult challenge to Rafa — not a hard one, but at least a tad more difficult than his previous matches, but it was not to be. We wish him the best of luck, and we hope to see him return to the tour soon.
No Time For Thiem
In arguably his most impressive win of the tournament, an in-form Rafa demolished Dominic Thiem — the only player to beat him on clay this year — 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 en route to his tenth Roland Garros final. Rafa’s defense was too much for Thiem’s booming groundstrokes as the young Austrian simply couldn’t match the Spaniard’s incredible consistency. Thiem got off to a good start, breaking Nadal’s serve in the first game, but he couldn’t hold on, and by the start of the third set, it was clear that Dominic had all but given up.
It’s been an incredibly impressive tournament from Nadal. He’s only lost 29 games to reach the final, the lowest in grand slam history, albeit aided by an early retirement from Pablo Carreño Busta. We may not get to see the fourth Fedal of the year, but we’ll have Swiss compatriot Wawrinka fighting on behalf of Roger. If the Stanimal doesn’t show up tomorrow, Wawrinka might just be in for a beating. Stay tuned for more coverage of the French Open final soon!