The 2011 Roland Garros men’s singles final is scheduled to commence at 3pm local time in Paris, France. The contenders for the title are No.1 seed and 5-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal and No.3 seed and 16-time Grand Slam singles champion Roger Federer.
One of the greatest rivalries in the history of tennis reignites today as Nadal and Federer go head-to-head in the final of a Grand Slam for the 8th time. Given their long list of amazing achievements here’s a brief comparison to set the scene for today’s match. On each line Nadal’s details are listed first, followed by Federer’s:
- The left-handed player versus the right-hander;
- The King of Clay jousting with the King of everything else;
- The double-handed backhand goes toe-to-toe with the single-handed backhand;
- The disciplined forward planner and master strategist engages his mind with the creative free-flowing do-whatever-comes-intuitively in the moment guy;
- The current World No.1 defending his throne against the former World No.1;
- The 1.88m Spaniard in his prime faces the 1.85m Swiss past his peak, having won 1 of the past 7 Grand Slam titles;
- The made champion, whose actually right handed, battles the natural; and
- The hard working muscular bull locks horns with the lean, fluent gazelle;
- The muscle top tight fitted clothes dressed in-your-face appearance in contrast to the classic conservative styled classic-cut outfits and loose fitted clothes;
- The 100 square inch Babolat racquet strung loosely being thrown at the 90 square inch Wilson racquet strung firmly; and
- The amazingly consistent, defensive minded, minimum of risk player, hoping to really extend the points and match time, whilst intelligently extracting errors from his opponent clashing with (when at his best), the aggressive more player, aiming to enforce higher risk winning shots, looking to finish points at first opportunity, especially with his serve and intuition and often highly varied repertoire style and play.
The most recent Grand Slam final between Rafa and Roger was at the 2009 Australian Open over two whole years ago. There are definitely NO guarantees that these two amazing ambassadors of the game will ever meet again in the final of a Grand Slam, so make sure you see how the greatest show in tennis unfolds from beginning to end.
The 25-year-old Nadal is playing in his 12th Grand Slam singles final whereas, the 29-year-old Federer is playing in his 23rd Grand Slam singles final. Nadal’s record in these finals stands at 9-2 with his only two losses being dealt to him by Federer in back-to-back Wimbledon finals. Five of Federer’s six losses in these finals were recorded by Nadal with three of those being right here at Roland Garros in 2006 to 2008.
In Grand Slam singles finals Nadal leads Federer 5-2. In their only other meeting in a Grand Slam singles event, Nadal defeated Federer in the 2005 Roland Garros semi finals. The rivalry stands at 16 wins to Nadal versus 8 wins by Federer, which includes Nadal winning 11 to 2 in all of their clay court matches.
When Federer was playing in the final of Wimbledon in 2008 and going for a record making sixth straight Wimbledon singles title, Nadal ended his run and chance at history. This was despite the fact that Federer was the huge favourite for that match, as a result of Federer being the player with the greatest grass court pedigree at the time.
Now the tables are turned and Nadal is playing for a historic sixth Roland Garros singles title in 7 years to equal Bjorn Borg’s record 6 titles (won over an 8-year period). Nadal has most likely the greatest clay court pedigree in the history of tennis. Federer has won 15 of his world record 16 Grand Slam singles titles on hard courts and grass.
The deciding factor in determining who will win is who can demonstrate a greater mastery over the intense mental challenges both players will face. The player who can show this mastery today will emerge the victor. It does NOT matter that Federer has won almost double the number of Grand Slam singles titles that Nadal has. It does NOT matter how many times Nadal has beaten Federer on clay or how many times Nadal has won this title in the past! The mental component or psychology of performance is ALWAYS the No.1 most powerful and influential force on determining the outcome.
What DOES matter is who can PERFORM all of the necessary tasks TODAY at a higher level than his opponent. Whoever is more successful at executing this TODAY will allow his higher levels of tennis performance to shine through. The necessity to achieve this performance level, which is determined by how high the bar is set by both players today, is the absolute and definitive test…this is especially true at the pivotal moments and crucial points.
Any predictions of who will win are in my opinion a monumental insult to the players and of course these two great champions. Predictions in tennis as well as betting on tennis are such negative and largely unreliable elements that impact on the game. People trying to sell you why their prediction will prove correct just illustrates how little they understand tennis. In a situation where there is a 1 in 2 chance their GUESS is correct, insanely they think guessing correctly demonstrates that they do know a lot about tennis.
One of the reasons that tennis is a great game is because it always has the potential of splitting the runner-up from the winner based on such tiny and small factors. These factors continually swing either way, in one persons favour or to the other persons favour at any time during every match. Indeed the scoring system in tennis is one of the biggest assets tennis has. The scoring system itself is a HUGE influential factor that ALWAYS sets the stage for change a large number of possible times and situations in every match where things can easily swing one way or the other.
What I LOVE to see when I watch a match is what transpires in all of these swinging moments, what players do in these situations, how do they act and respond, what level of mental skill over the ever-present mental challenges do they maintain and what performance level can they achieve under this pressure throughout the match.
If you have a new perspective now on today’s match, some ideas and questions about what I have raised to go over in your mind and more importantly an increased motivation to watch this match today, then I am happy that you have and will share my passion for tennis today. Now all I have to say is, I cannot wait to see…Federer and Nadal BRING IT ON!
Stay tuned to this tennis website for full coverage of every Grand Slam tournament and every major women’s and men’s tennis tournament on the WTA and ATP Tours. Click this link for further details about Roland Garros 2011: May 17-June 5.
Nadal photo credit: Frederic de Villamil
Federer photo credit Frederic de Villamil