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."

Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform