Nadal on brink of history as Borg waits in wings

History is in the air at Roland Garros, that beautiful and venerable home of the French Open. It could, and should, be made this afternoon by the incredible Rafael Nadal (pictured right) in his fourth successive final here, and his third against the world No 1, Roger Federer, and it is no small irony that the trophy will be presented by Bjorn Borg, the only man in the modern era to have clocked up four straight French titles.

The Borg-Nadal comparisons, at least on clay, are inevitable but Nadal, 22 last week, is having none of it. "How could I dare compare myself to Borg? He was one of the top three players in the history of tennis."

Borg said he was not in the business of comparisons but forecast that Nadal "could win seven or eight French Opens, a player like [him] doesn't come along every 10 years". Borg predicts a classic final, "a long and close match". Federer is out to claim his first French title, and Borg said: "If he wins this he will definitely be the greatest player ever."

Nadal's progress into the final could not have been bettered: six matches won in straight sets, with 37 games conceded. He has vanquished four seeds, compared with one by Federer, who has also dropped three sets. This is in keeping with what even his most ardent admirers are calling an indifferent year so far.

It may be something to do with a keeping up of spirits, but Federer appears to dismiss this notion. After Friday's patchy semi-final win over Gaël Monfils, Federer was intoning his now-familiar denial mantra. "I'm playing well, I feel I have the right tactics, the right game and the fitness to beat [Nadal]."

Federer was being a touch more realistic when he acknowledged today's match as "the ultimate test on clay". It is, he says, "the position I wanted, Rafa across the net". It is a daunting view, since the Spaniard leads 8-1 in their clay-court clashes, hardly the statistic to encourage Federer as he pursues the only Grand Slam to elude his juggernaut progress which has taken him to 15 finals, 12 won and only two lost – at Roland Garros in 2006 and 2007 to Rafa. He was also beaten by Nadal in the 2005 French semi-finals.

Nadal has never lost at Roland Garros, 27 straight wins so far. No wonder he exudes a proprietorial air, never more so than when destroying his rival for the worldNo 2 spot, Novak Djokovic, on Friday. How to beat him? Rafa's fellow Spaniard David Ferrer says: "Be aggressive, in his face. If not he will eat you, little by little. What he does to you is barbarous."

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers