French Open Tennis 2013: David Ferrer Will Surprise Fans vs. Rafael Nadal

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2013

David Ferrer will partake in his first Grand Slam title match.
David Ferrer will partake in his first Grand Slam title match.Julian Finney/Getty Images

The men's French Open final, starting at 9 a.m. ET, is considered nothing but a mere formality.

If anything, Rafael Nadal just beat Novak Djokovic in the real title match. David Ferrer is simply a placeholder to kill time before handing Nadal his eighth trophy at Roland Garros.

Let's at least give Ferrer a fighting chance.

Nadal is the undisputed favorite for a reason. The Spanish star has dominated the clay courts, winning the past three French Open championships and competing in his ninth finals match over the past 10 years.

Yes, Sports Illustrated, this is the biggest challenge Ferrer can possibly get.

Everything before this point has not been as challenging. Ferrer is here because Jo-Wilfried Tsonga handled Roger Federer, Andy Murray sat out the tournament, and Djokovic landed on the same bracket as Nadal. Everything fell perfectly in place for Ferrer to get here, but all that matters now is that he's here.

The No. 5 player in the world, Ferrer is no pushover, yet the Spaniard is getting the Washington Generals treatment leading up to his first Grand Slam final.

To be clear, this is not a guarantee or even a prediction that Ferrer shocks the world and upsets Nadal. He can, however, make Nadal work for his trophy and maybe take a set or two. 

Nadal's cat-like quickness on the clay befuddles everyone, but Ferrer is a skilled returner who won't let his foe outwork him. He's also entering the contest with fresher legs.

While Ferrer has driven a paved path to this point, Nadal has veered down a narrow road filled with potholes. Shortly removed from a knee injury that cost him months of action, Nadal's matches have been cramped into a tight schedule.

Due to rain, Nadal mowed through the second and third round on back-to-back days. Sunday morning's championship match will mark his sixth bout in 10 days, including the epic battle against Djokovic that spanned well over four hours.

Meanwhile, Ferrer's schedule ran 13 days, and he did not drop a single set along the way. It briefly appeared that Tsonga would finally present a challenge, but Ferrer rallied to capture the second set and never looked back.

One player is rested with no expectations, nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain. The other is fatigued and listening to the entire world already label him the champion.

It'd take a bold, attention-starved individual to pick Ferrer with conviction, but it's not nearly as crazy to foresee him at least making it a match worth watching.