The schedule is set for the 2013 French Open finals at Roland Garros, and both matchups should be excellent.
In the men's bracket, defending champ Rafael Nadal will take on fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.
The finals should only follow up on the excitement and excellent play of the semifinals.
Ferrer and Williams had easy matches. That may prove crucial in the finals, as they will come in a bit fresher.
Both matches feature heavy favorites in Williams and Nadal, but that does not mean that Sharapova and Ferrer don't have a chance.
Below is the schedule of the two matches. After that, we'll get into predictions.
|Saturday, June 8||9 a.m. ET||NBC|
|Sunday, June 9||9 a.m. ET||NBC|
Sharapova vs. Williams
This match, on paper, does not look good for Sharapova. In the last 15 matches against each other, Williams has won 13, including 12 in a row. In 2013, Williams beat Sharapova three times.
In addition, Williams has beaten Sharapova twice on clay this year, including a victory at the Madrid Open in May.
We can't forget just how amazing Williams is playing. She has won 30 straight matches, including big victories at the London Olympics, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
It also doesn't help matters that Sharapova really struggled against Azarenka in the semifinals. She had 11 double faults, including four in a single game. In the third set, Sharapova lost four match points and double faulted on the last two. A shaky serve and an inability to put opponents away is going to come back to haunt the Russian.
Williams cruised in her semifinals, winning in just 46 minutes against Sara Errani, last year's runner-up.
Between Williams absolutely owning Sharapova, and Williams simply playing better tennis than the Russian, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Williams doesn't win.
Of course, Williams could make some mistakes, or Sharapova could correct her issues with the serve.
Both of those scenarios seem unlikely. Look for WIlliams to win this match pretty easily, and win her first title at Roland Garros since 2002.
Ferrer vs. Nadal
Rafael Nadal proved once again that he is the best ever on the clay surface. He won a truly topsy-turvy match against Novak Djokovic, coming from behind multiple times.
The Spainard has lost just once in the past nine years at Roland Garros, and, quite simply, it's hard to imagine that he will lose again.
David Ferrer will face Rafael Nadal in the final, the 1st all-Spanish RG final since 2002 between Costa and Ferrero. #RG13— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 7, 2013
He will take on David Ferrer, who made quick work of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, winning in straight sets. Ferrer is pretty good on the red surface. He has won 10 of his 20 career titles on clay, including the Copa Claro in February.
Ferrer's game is well-suited to the clay court because he's a really fast mover and may be one of the fastest players on the circuit.
Still, Nadal owns Ferrer. Nadal is 19-4 in his career against his countryman. He has only lost to him once on clay, and that was back in 2004.
Ferrer knows that he is the underdog, as he told ESPN:
I know he's the favorite, but I am going to be focused every point. I will try to do my best. But I am not thinking about Rafael, whether he's better than me or not. I will try to fight a lot and to play a very good match. After that, the match is going to depend on a lot of things.
Barring a truly disastrous turn of events for Rafa, he will win. It will perhaps go to four sets, but no more than that. Ferrer is a really good player, but he cannot match Nadal. This will be Ferrer's first appearance in a Grand Slam final, and that inexperience will hurt him.
Look for Nadal to continue his dominance on clay and win his fourth-straight title.