Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal: What Will Be the Deciding Factor for This Match?

Delores Smith-JohnsonCorrespondent IIIJune 4, 2011

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - APRIL 01:  (L-R) Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain pose for a photo at the net prior to their men's semifinal match during the Sony Ericsson Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 1, 2011 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

This was no doubt the matchup that so many tennis fans were hoping to see—myself included.  And due to some excellent play by both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, it has become a reality.

These two tennis champions will face each other for the fifth time at Roland Garros. Overall, Nadal leads the head-to-head matchup, 16-8. Of the 16 wins, he has won 11 on clay.

If you base the potential outcome on the head-to-head stats of Nadal and Federer, it favors Nadal, hands down.  

However, remember the Federer-Djokovic semifinal match (what an awesome matchup). Looking at their head-to-head stats this year, it would have seemed that Djokovic had that match locked up, since he was undefeated against Federer.

Not the case! Federer won. 

I think the same is true of Nadal and Federer. Though I am a Nadal fan, no doubt, and I want to see him win, I have to respect that Federer is a very skilled player who cannot be underestimated.

Overall, I think, though one or the other may have an advantage in net approach, maneuvering around the clay court, service game, etc., neither has enough of an edge to say that the match is totally in their favor.

(Note: Though there may not be a clear-cut advantage, not playing their best can make one or all of the aforementioned factors significant.)

The skill set of these two players on the court is probably more similar than in any other matchup. However, I do feel there is an aspect of their games that will determine who will win this match. 

That deciding factor: break-point conversion.

If we can say anything for sure about this match, it's that both of these players are going to be on their game to secure every opportunity to score that they initiate. Therefore, it is going to be crucial that when any opportunity arises to break the other, they take advantage.

In other words, it is going to be imperative to score.

The player that's most successful at making the conversion and maintaining the advantage will win the match. Now, both have struggled with break-point conversions throughout this tournament, but they have been able make it count when necessary—and this match is definitely going to be one of those times.

And so, with the stage set, we prepare ourselves to see two of the greatest players in history play an epic match for the 2011 French Open title.