David Ferrer has almost no chance to beat Rafael Nadal in the French Open final on Sunday. His only hope is that Rafa won't be mentally engaged after a five-set classic against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinal.
Unless that unlikely event occurs, get ready for Ferrer's spirits to be broken the first time his serve is.
Ferrer is a battler, but Nadal has long established the pecking order between the two Spaniards. Though they are countrymen and friends, Nadal has beaten him 19 of the 23 times they've faced each other.
In 15 of those wins he's beaten Ferrer in straight sets. The last time Nadal lost to him was at the 2011 Australian Open. Though that was a Grand Slam event and Rafa is formidable on any surface when he's healthy, beating him on clay is a different story.
Ferrer owns just one win over his nemesis on clay. It came in their very first meeting back in 2004 when Nadal was just 18 years old. Even that win took place in Stuttgart, Germany and not on the red clay of Roland Garros where Nadal is a seven-time champion.
How many sets will it take for Nadal to defeat Ferrer?
The reason for Nadal's dominance over Ferrer comes down to style. Nadal's powerful and accurate groundstrokes supersede Ferrer's defensive, baseline-to-baseline game.
When Ferrer is at his best, he's moving his opponent all over the court. But because he doesn't possess the power or shot variety to keep Nadal off balance, he's forced to play too defensive.
Without a strong net game, his only hope to beat Nadal is if the clay-court genius is not at his best. From what we saw against Djokovic on Friday, I'd say he's pretty close to the top of his game.
Ferrer will give a great effort, but he's human. At some point, he'll recognize the trend he's seen 19 other times against Nadal. Though he'll still go through the motions, he'll accept defeat before the match is technically over.
Shine up the eighth French Open trophy for Rafa, because a win on Sunday is a foregone conclusion.
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