Rafael Nadal breezed by fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar, 6-0, 6-4, on Saturday at the Mutua Madrid Open, and he is well on his way to capturing the third title in his nation's capital for the third time.
A matchup with Stanislas Wawrinka awaits in the Madrid Open final, but the fifth-seeded Nadal should have no trouble dispatching the tournament's No. 15 seed to take home the hardware.
Tennis Channel's Twitter page provided some background information on the impending showdown in the Magic Box, and it appears that Nadal is the prohibitive favorite, if history is any indication:
Tennis Channel @TennisChannel
It'll be @stanwawrinka vs. @RafaelNadal in Sunday's final from Madrid. They've played 17 sets in the past - Rafa's won all of em.5/11/2013, 7:16:20 PM
The "King of Clay" is seemingly immortal on the surface, using his uniquely powerful topspin and supreme fitness to grind opponents down. His skill set and relentlessness have propelled him to an unprecedented seven French Open titles.
Since returning from an extended layoff due to injuries and illness following last summer's Wimbledon, the 26-year-old Nadal boasts a record of 31-2 in singles. His fine form has consistently put him in competition for titles, as ESPN Stats & Info points out:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Rafael Nadal def. Pablo Andujar in Madrid Open Semis. He's now reached the final in all 7 events he's played this season.5/11/2013, 4:45:16 PM
The 11-time Grand Slam champion is looking for his third singles championship in the 2013 season, and having the home crowd behind him will help the cause.
Roger Federer is the typical player who squares off with Nadal in finals. Such is not the case this time around, but Wawrinka has a solid all-around game and the talent to make things interesting.
The problem is that Wawrinka hasn't consistently shown the ability to stay in every point and play each one as if it's his last.
That trait is innate in Nadal and has been the reason why he has separated himself from many of his peers and predecessors as one of the greatest of all time.
All of the previous matches between Wawrinka and Nadal have accentuated the difference between them. Although Nadal is slightly superior in terms of natural ability, it is his uncanny fortitude that allows him to be such a great champion.
For example, check out this marathon point late in Nadal's match with Andujar:
In the midst of breaking Andujar, and then subsequently serving out for the win, Nadal actually lost this ridiculous rally to even the game at 30-30. Despite being visibly dejected, Nadal broke his opponent and then closed the deal. That is something Wawrinka can draw inspiration from.
Wawrinka has displayed fine form recently in his own right, winning the Portugal Open over David Ferrer, whom Nadal had difficulty beating in the quarterfinals in Madrid after dropping the opening set.
Look for Nadal to capture the top prize in Madrid once again and continue his momentum heading into the year's second Grand Slam event at Roland Garros.
Note: All statistics and information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com.