French Open men's final: David Ferrer ready for the ultimate test against Rafael Nadal
David Ferrer approaches his first Grand Slam final at the age of 31 admitting he has already made a 'dream come true'.
Last Updated: 09/06/13 1:47pm
The Spaniard has been a top-10 player for almost a decade but reached a major final at the fifth attempt with Friday's straight-sets victory over Joe-Wilfried Tsonga at Roland Garros.
His reward is a meeting with his fellow countryman Rafael Nadal - the undisputed King of Clay and a seven-time champion in Paris.
Ferrer's only victory on clay against Nadal was in their first meeting at Stuttgart in 2004 when his compatriot was just 16 and he has lost the last eight meetings between the two. The career stats are 19-4 in Nadal's favour.
As well as losing to Nadal in the quarter-finals in Paris in 2005 and in the semi-finals last year, Ferrer has already been beaten three times by his countryman in 2013, all on clay.
Nevertheless, Ferrer is understandably on a high heading into Sunday's showpiece. "It's a dream for me to be in the final of a Grand Slam, and Roland Garros is more important for me," he said.
"I will fight. It's very difficult to beat Rafael on all the surfaces, but on a clay court it is more difficult. I think I need to play my best tennis to beat him. I need to play very aggressive all the match."
Ferrer should at least be the fresher of the two having spent six hours fewer than Nadal to reach the final, while his semi-final was a stroll compared to Nadal's four-and-a-half hour epic five-setter against world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
But the seven-time champion insists he is happy to suffer as he heads into his 17th Grand Slam final seeking a 12th major title.
"I learned during all of my career to enjoy suffering, and these kind of matches are very special. You don't have the chance to play these kind of matches every day," said Nadal, whose record at Roland Garros is 58 wins in 59 matches. His one defeat in nine visits came in the 2009 fourth round against Swede Robin Soderling.
"When these kind of matches happen you suffer, but I really enjoy these moments. I really enjoy suffering, because what's harder is when I am in Mallorca last year and I had to watch these kind of matches on the TV.
"Today I am here. So you can lose, you can win, and that's part of the sport. That's the beautiful thing."