Rafael Nadal must overcome the spectacular shot-making of Stan Wawrinka if he is to win a record 10th French Open title today. The Spaniard, 31, will become the first player in the open era to win a Grand Slam title 10 times if he wins.
Swiss third seed Wawrinka hit 87 winners as he beat world number one Andy Murray in the semi-finals. “It’s true that when he hits hard, he hits really hard. Stopping him can be difficult,” said Nadal. “I know he’s dangerous when he plays aggressively, so I need to limit his possibilities. I will play very aggressively, and I don’t want him to take control – easy to say, but it may not be that easy to do.”
Nadal has yet to drop a set in Paris, reaching the final for the loss of just 29 games over six matches. His record at Roland Garros now stands at 78 match wins and two defeats since he won his first title in 2005.
However, injury problems hampered his chances in recent years and he has not won a major title since his last French Open triumph in 2014.
Victory would bring Nadal his 15th Grand Slam title, moving him above Pete Sampras into second on the all-time list, behind Roger Federer on 18.
It would also deliver the French Open for the 10th time; only Margaret Court, with 11 Australian Open titles, has won one of the Grand Slam trophies more often. Nadal has been keen to talk down any pressure surrounding the possibility of a 10th triumph at the tournament, saying: “I think I don’t make more history, it’s enough. Nine are more than good.”
He can take confidence from a record of 15 wins from 18 meetings with Wawrinka, but the Swiss has won three of the last six, including his first Grand Slam win in the 2014 Australian Open final.
“Revenge is not part of my vocab,” said Nadal. “I don’t think it would be the right thing to do to see it as a revenge.”