In the final of the French Open, David Ferrer will try to do what only one other person has ever done: beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
Nadal is in his ninth year competing at this prestigious event and he is going for his eighth title on Sunday. So far, only Robin Soderling was able to get the better of him, with a victory in the 2009 quarterfinals.
As good as Nadal has been on clay, however, he is still not unbeatable. Ferrer has been as solid as they come in this tournament, winning every single set so far. He might need to play a near-perfect match, but he is capable of getting the victory if he follows these keys.
Get the First Serve in Play
One of the weakest parts of Ferrer's game this year has been his inconsistency on his first serve. While he does not have as big of a drop-off to his second serve as other top players, his 63 percent accuracy is a bit of a problem.
The Spanish star was able to survive the quarterfinals despite only getting 47 percent of these serves in play.
Fortunately, he was able to do better in his toughest match of the tournament with a 60 percent mark against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals. Still, this will have to greatly improve against Nadal.
His opponent in the next round dominates with his ability to jump on poor second serves. Nadal has won 56 percent of points on second-serve returns this year, and he continues to be tough to beat.
Ferrer cannot play to Nadal strength; he needs to stay strong on his opening serve and avoid getting into trouble with his second.
Convert Break Points
During the season, Ferrer has been very strong at converting break points. He ranks ninth on tour with a 46 percent success rate, which is even better than Nadal in this category.
It is important to take advantage of opportunities to break when you get the chance, especially in a close match where every game matters.
The last time these two players competed at the Rome Masters, Ferrer struggled in this area. He earned an impressive 16 breaks on Nadal, but only converted three of them in the three-set loss.
In his semifinals against Tsonga, he was not much better, with only a 35 percent conversion rate.
It will not be too easy to get Nadal on the ropes when he has the serve in the next match. However, it will be important to win games when he has the chance.
Stretch the Match Out
Nadal had his toughest match of the tournament in the semifinals against No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic. The two superstars battled for over four-and-a-half hours and needed 16 games in the fifth set to decide a winner.
As fit as Nadal has been throughout his career, this long match could still end up being an issue for him. It was the first time since returning from his knee injury that he went five sets, and the quick turnaround could be tough to overcome.
Meanwhile, Ferrer has won ever match thus far in straight sets. He should be much fresher heading into the final compared to Nadal.
The key for him will be to avoid being overaggressive. Instead of taking a risk at the net, he should remain defensive and keep rallies alive.
As long as Ferrer stretches out the match and wins a set or two, he should have an advantage late.
Rob Goldberg is a member of Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team. Follow him on Twitter for the latest updates.
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