Wawrinka and Nadal Will Contest 2017 French Open Final

Wawrinka and Nadal will face each other in the 2017 French Open final after they defeated Murray 6-7(6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1 and Thiem 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 respectively. The Wawrinka vs Murray match was the match of the tournament while the second semi-final was generally a disappointment.

Congrats to Stan for turning last year’s semi-final loss to Murray around but it was by no means easy. Stan served for the first set and was a break up in the third but he gradually gained the upper hand and the fourth set tiebreak was the key.

Murray had the opportunity to close it out there but once Stan won it it was one-way traffic. I was glad he didn’t get the bagel because that would have been unfitting after such a great match.

It was Stan’s raw power against Murray’s incredible defense. In the end, Stan’s brutal power hitting proved to be one too much for Murray but credit to Murray for pulling himself together in Paris after a dismal 2017 so far. It must have been the Lendl effect because Murray was playing at the level that got him to number one for once.

As for the second quarterfinal, I actually predicted Nadal would win in straight sets when Djokovic was busy losing to Thiem. That’s why I said in my last post I was just hoping for Thiem to make it competitive.

And he hardly did. I mean people were complaining about Djokovic’s performance against Thiem but he won more games than Thiem did. In Rome, Thiem played out of his mind while Nadal felt the effects of a long clay court season.

Today I was quite certain that Thiem’s backhand would not be stable and consistent enough to withstand the barrage from Nadal’s spinning and high-bouncing crosscourt forehand and that is exactly what happened.

This is essentially the tactic that Nadal has used over the years to completely dominate clay. It’s boring and predictable but it is effective. The only player whose backhand he can’t break down on clay is Djokovic which is why Djokovic has the best clay court record of anyone against Nadal.

I knew Thiem wouldn’t overcome the problem in a million years and I’m 99% sure Stan won’t either.

  • Final Preview

When Stan won Geneva after a dismal clay court season I said I could easily see him making the French Open final. But that is where I stopped. I knew Nadal was likely to be in the final as well and I didn’t think Stan could beat him even if he was at his best.

Stan is unbelievably hard to stop when he goes into his current mode which is why he has never lost a final. Nadal, on the other hand, has never lost a French Open final. And I don’t see how that is going to change on Sunday.

If you think about it, Stan was barely able to beat Murray. What are his chances of beating Nadal? I’m not trying to make things boring and predictable for my readers but I have said since the beginning Djokovic is the only one who can defeat Nadal.

And that would still have been a toss-up if Djokovic was at his best. Nadal looked destined to win La Decima ever since the clay court season started. Djokovic was the only guy who I hoped could stop him but as it turned out Djokovic hadn’t won enough the entire year.

To have been able to stop Nadal, Djokovic needed to be in peak form and he wasn’t anywhere close to that. I’m sure you want to hear me say that Stan has a real shot at winning this but I don’t see it.

He is not facing another Murray. He is facing someone with similar defensive skills but who is left-handed and who has a spinning and high-bouncing crosscourt forehand. Stan is essentially a better version of Thiem.

He hits harder and flatter and he has a better backhand, but not good enough. It’s one of the best backhands on tour when Stan is playing well but Djokovic’s backhand is still better and more stable.

Stan was recently asked if he could have anyone’s backhand who would it be and he said, Djokovic. That tells you all you need to know. Even the best one-handed backhand is not as good and as stable as the best two-handed backhand.

There is a reason Stan trails Nadal 3-15 in the head-to-head. He has one clay court win over Nadal in Rome 2015 when Nadal was struggling. His most telling win over Nadal was the 2014 Australian Open final. So we know Stan can beat Nadal in a big match but clay is another story.

The bounce is higher and more inconsistent. It is very difficult to take Nadal’s kicking topspin forehand early on clay. Not only does that ball kick up viciously off the court but the bounce is inconsistent as well. A nightmare for a one-hander. Stan’s backhand is a great offensive shot but against Nadal on clay, you probably need something a little more stable.

I can see Stan making it a competitive match and winning a set but that is as far as it goes. This is Nadal’s year. He has been utterly untouchable throughout this French Open and he is winning La Decima on Sunday. I’d love to be proven wrong but I don’t see it happening.

Who will win the 2017 French Open final?

  • Nadal in 3 (39%, 35 Votes)
  • Nadal in 4 (26%, 23 Votes)
  • Wawrinka in 4 (16%, 14 Votes)
  • Wawrinka in 5 (14%, 13 Votes)
  • Wawrinka in 3 (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Nadal in 5 (2%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 90

Loading ... Loading ...
  • Djokovic Falls Out of Top 3 for First Time Since 2009

On a side note, Djokovic fell out of the top 3 in the rankings with Stan’s win today for the first time since 2009. That is 8 years in the top 3. Amazing consistency at the highest level of the sport.

It has also been quite a dramatic fall for Djokovic who a year ago had the biggest lead in the history of the ATP rankings over the number two player. But the slump is still not as bad as Nadal’s who fell to #10 in 2015 or Federer’s who fell to #17 last year.

Of course, the mainstream media and obsessed fans who were badly hurting when Djokovic was destroying everyone in his path from 2015-2016 are now writing Djokovic off but the truth is their own favorites have been in much deeper slumps.

They are praying that they have seen the last of their worst nightmare but unfortunately for them, Agassi slumped to #141 in the rankings and won five grand slams afterward, and now he is coaching Djokovic.

I don’t think there is any doubt that Djokovic will be back and if Agassi is right then he will be better than ever. A scary thought indeed for the mainstream media and Fedal crowd…

Posted in French Open, Grand Slams.

10 Comments

  1. I pretty much agree with your sentiments about the final. Stan would have to play the match of his life, and even then Nadal would have to have a bad day for the Swiss to stand a chance. It’s hard to imagine any other outcome than Nadal steamrolling his way through the final in either 3 or 4 sets. Thiem was like the perfect warm-up match for him, and he should be very fresh for the final. As you know, I’m a Fedfan, and it’s difficult to appreciate Djokovic when he’s trashing your favorite player, but now his presence is sorely missed. Like you said, there aren’t really any other players who can match up to Nadal on clay the way he’s playing now. I really would have preferred Novak to win instead of Rafa, because I like him better, and Fed’s legacy takes a hit either way.

    If(when) Nadal wins on Sunday, then he deserves it and no-one can take that away from him. If there’s one positive thing to take from Nadal’s comeback for Nole fans, it’s that’s he has proved that no slump is too deep. Just when everybody, including me, had finally written Nadal off, he literally came back from the dead and found his peak form. If a one-dimensional player like Nadal can do it, then it’s all but guaranteed that a more versatile player like Djokovic will come back in full force too.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    BE! Love the comment. Obviously, I would have liked Djokovic to win it too because it would have given him the double career slam. But since Nadal can’t do it in Paris it makes it easier if he wins the title. La Decima will be a big milestone itself but it doesn’t really tell us anything new about Nadal. It tells us that he is the clay court GOAT which we already knew.

    A double career slam, on the other hand, forces us to admit that he is more than a glorified clay court specialist, however. But one thing it would force us to admit like you said, is that if Nadal can come back from as deep a slump as he did then Djokovic can do it easily. I mean Nadal truly looked down and out. Djokovic is still #4 in the world. And now he found his dream coach…

    [Reply]

    B.Jay Reply:

    But if you erase all of Nadal’s clay titles and achievements he arguably still is an all time top 20 player. Isn’t that enough for y’all to admit he’s more than a glorified clay court specialist?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Compared to the average pro he is not a glorified clay court specialist, but we are holding him to the highest standards of the likes of Federer and Djokovic. He has for instance never won a WTF title, won only one indoor title I think, and never defended a title off of clay. Those are pretty telling stats. I find his game style too one-dimensional too to rank him in my top tier for the GOAT debate.

    [Reply]

  2. Just want to mention if Nadal wins another AO he’d also have a double career slam.

    Tall ask but one never knows.

    Cheers!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right. He should have won it this year. If he doesn’t get it then that loss will always be his most telling loss.

    [Reply]

  3. Hi Ruan,

    At the level of ATP top 5 play, why do you think it took Nadal nearly two years to recoup his form to where he is today? Is it mostly mental or are there technical aspects as well. It seems Moya has made a big difference in encouraging Nadal to serve more aggressively and play DTL backhands. Going forward, assuming Rafa wins RG, it seems possible he could go all the way in Wimbledon as well? Tennis is all about mental at this level, isn’t it?

    Tennis Fan

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi TennisFan, tennis is mostly about mental at any level. I think the technical part is overrated by tennis fans. The tactical part is relatively important but the mental aspect is by far the most important. And what I mean by that is confidence. When a player is confident they will trust themselves in the key points of the match and win those points. When a player is not confident he will hesitate on the big points and lose them. Sure there are certain things to do against certain players to improve your chances but in the end, confidence is by far the most important thing. Agassi said recently in an interview that it was interesting to him that when Djokovic was dominating he wasn’t thinking about the other side of the court. He was only focused on his own game! In other words, he was just concentrating on playing his best tennis without worrying about what was going on on the other side of the net. So he thinks Djokovic can be even better if he thinks about tactics against different players. The point is Djokovic’s confidence was enough to make him dominate tennis completely. That’s all it took.

    About Nadal going all the way in Wimbledon don’t let the hype get to you. There are plenty of players who can beat him on grass especially Federer. When a player wins something big there is always hype and if you follow tennis long enough it becomes just silly. Kuerten recently said Nadal can win 5 more FOs. That kind of hype is just tragic, especially from a 3-time FO champion. The hype dies as quickly as it starts. A year ago Djokovic was going to win the calender slam. Look where he is now.

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    Cannot agree more Ru-an. Confidence is the key. I am really looking forward to see what happens if Rafa could not accomplish the La Decima. Will he have enough confidence left post French open in order to play at the level he is playing right now? Also he has already played close to 50 matches without any notable break. How is that going to affect the second half of the season? He is not getting any younger!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right, Jiten. He has already played an awful lot. If he doesn’t win La Decima that would be a disaster for him. That is what I am hoping for of course.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *