For the 33rd time—and 11th instance at a Grand Slam—Roger Federer will face off with Rafael Nadal, and the entire world will be treated to scintillating tennis.
In terms of their head-to-head record, the Spaniard has dominated the historic battle, winning 22 of the 32 previous meetings. That's partly a result of Nadal's transcendence on clay, but the World No. 1 has won seven of nine hard court matches as well.
Moreover, Rafa has had the recent success—10 wins in the last 12 and four in a row—as well as a far superior record in Grand Slams, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info:
Roger Federer faces Rafael Nadal later tonight for 11th time in a Grand Slam - Nadal has won 8 of previous 10 meetings— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 23, 2014
Some may wonder how the seemingly one-sided battle stands to be one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport, but as soon as you see them play, you know. Despite the lopsided head-to-head numbers, Nadal and Federer have put together some of the greatest matches ever during their decade-long rivalry.
Besides, Federer has a new weapon on his side in coach Stefan Edberg, via Sky Sports:
The head-to-head record is in his favour. I'm looking forward to speaking to Stefan, because when we spoke together when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa, as well. He thought he had some good ideas.
It's two of the best ever. When they clash on this kind of stage, you watch.
Here's a look at some numbers that could help provide a glimpse into the newest chapter of the legendary matchup.
Note: All stats courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com
Federer's Serving Dominance
It tends to make things a little easier when you never have your serve broken. Through five matches and 77 service games, Fed-Ex has faced just 11 break points and been broken twice. He has held his serve at a ridiculous 97 percent clip.
How many times will Nadal break Federer?
Part of that prowess has been his 45 aces, an average of one for every 1.71 service games. But much adieu also goes to his serve-and-volley.
With arguably the greatest serve-and-volley player of all time now in his coaching corner, Federer has approached the net with great success. In his last two matches—no-nonsense wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray—he has won 83 of 107 (77.6 percent) of his net points. Nearly 34 percent of his total points have come at the net.
Becoming the aggressor and holding serve will be key for Fed-Ex.
Nadal's Return Game
Federer hasn't allowed many break chances to his opponents, but he also hasn't faced someone with the defensive ability of Nadal.
Despite dealing with a nasty blister on his left hand, Rafa has broken an opponent's serve 21 times on 42 opportunities (comparatively, Federer has 22 breaks, but that's on 66 chances). He has won a whopping 58 percent of second return points and a very solid 30 percent of his return games.
Who will meet Stanislas Wawrinka in the finals?
We've already talked about Federer's serve being crucial in his ability to become the aggressor, but it's also important in this aspect.
If he isn't getting his first serve in (where Nadal is winning just 34 percent of the points), he'll give the Spaniard more chances to control play from the baseline, where he is often at his best. During this tournament, Nadal has hit 74 forehand winners and won 53 percent of baseline points, but you don't know need the numbers to tell you what he can do back there.