Nadal is 4-0 in his career against Federer in Paris, and will look to improve that mark on Sunday. One big difference this time is that this will be the first time that Federer will enter the encounter with a French Open championship under his belt.
In the 2007 and 2008 finals, Nadal had almost no trouble at all taking out the Swiss Maestro, especially in 2008 when he only lost four games. While the Spanish star is clearly the better clay court player, pressure on Federer to try to win his first French Open title was a major factor in those matches.
So from a mental standpoint, Federer should be in a much better place for this 2011 encounter. Add in the fact that he's coming off one of the best wins of his career and has been an underdog throughout the fortnight, and he shouldn't be feeling much pressure.
So that mean's for the first time in their French Open history that there should be more pressure on Nadal than Federer. He's looking to tie Bjorn Borg for the most French Open titles ever with six and add to his case to be claimed the best clay-court player ever.
From an x's and o's standpoint, it should be relatively similar to what we have seen over the years. The two players obviously know each other's games really well, so execution will be important for each player.
Federer served incredibly well throughout much of his semifinal win against Novak Djokovic. He was also a little more aggressive on his backhand and his return game, and will need to have all three working again to give Nadal a run for his money.
If the two men played a week ago, the edge would have to have gone to Federer. Nadal looked more vulnerable than ever on the red clay, almost going out in the first round to John Isner. But it turned out to be just a mini-slump, as he has looked really good over his last few matches and is in prime position to win another French Open.
Nadal's key advantages over Federer are his court coverage and his ability to attack Federer's one-handed backhand. He's also enjoyed a mental advantage over Federer due to his superior record against him, but that should be less of a factor now.
After Robin Soderling interrupted this great rivalry for two straight years in Paris, Nadal and Federer will finally play another grand slam final (first one since 2009 Australian Open). The encounter ensures that one of the two will have won the last seven French Open titles, but who will it be in 2011?
Expect this match to be more like their 2006 final, when it took Nadal a fourth-set tiebreaker to take the crown. Federer is playing his best tennis since the 2010 Australian Open and is playing with house money, but that still won't be enough to overcome the King of Clay. Look for Nadal to win his sixth French Open title in seven tries in four tough sets.
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