Stan Wawrinka heads into Sunday’s Roland Garros final against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal with the daunting task of having to try and defeat someone that has looked unbeatable on the clay courts in Paris.
Swiss third seed Wawrinka, who has one of the greatest single-handed backhands the sport has seen in his arsenal, will have to find a way of dealing with the left-handed Spaniard’s crosscourt forearm hit with ferocious topspin which bounces to shoulder height.
In his only two ever losses at Roland Garros, Nadal lost to Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic who both use double-handed backhands.
Wawrinka, the 2015 Roland Garros champion, will have to find a way of dealing that forehand shot that will pull him wide and open up the court for Nadal’s crosscourt backhand or forehand down the line which has destroyed the opposition in the past.
But three-times former champion Mats Wilander told Reuters he feels that the 32-year-old Swiss can handle the onslaught that is expected to come from Nadal’s forehand.
“I’m sure Stan will take a few minutes to figure out how high the ball is bouncing and where to hit his one-handed backhand from,” Wilander said.
“I think the difference between Stan and Dominic Thiem (who Nadal beat in the semis) is that Wawrinka has the best one-handed backhand of all time.
“Also he’s strong in the upper body so he can take Nadal’s high forehand and take it early and hit it down the line.
“He can get enough power so that Nadal can’t run around the backhand to get it on his forehand. If he can’t do that then it will look like all the other finals Nadal has won.”
Wilander went on to add that the fact Wawrinka defeated world number one Andy Murray in the semi-final will take the fear factor away from the Swiss mentally.