Rafael Nadal spent the second week of last year’s French Open on a boat with his girlfriend trying to forget about tennis’ latest cruel blow.
Having finally found his game after two difficult years, Nadal was struck down by yet another injury, this time to his wrist. The Spaniard looked heartbroken as he withdrew after only two matches.
Twelve months on, Nadal is healthy, in vintage form and about to face Stan Wawrinka this afternoon for his tenth Roland Garros title.
Should Nadal win, he would extend a record he already holds, becoming the first man in history to win ten grand slam singles titles at the same tournament. Only Margaret Court, with 11 titles at the Australian Open, has won more.
The signs certainly point to Nadal reaching double figures. He is yet to drop a set and has lost only 29 games en route to the final, the fewest since Bjorn Borg in 1978.
But he is wary of Wawrinka, who had also not dropped a set prior to an epic semi-final against Andy Murray on Friday, a match in which he crunched 87 winners.
Nadal said: “I don’t care about the games I lost or not, or sets or these kind of things. The only thing I care is I have been playing very well during the whole event, and I was able to win all the matches.
“I am very pleased with everything that happened since the first day that I arrived here.”
Wawrinka has reached three finals previously and has won every one – defeating an admittedly injured Nadal at the Australian Open in 2014 and Novak Djokovic here in 2015 and in New York last year. “It gives me the confidence I need,” he said. “I know what it takes to win a grand slam tournament.”