Soderling Sends Federer Packing

French Open 2010
June 2nd, 2010, by Hiland Doolittle
Robin Soderling celebrated his quarterfinal win over Federer

Robin Soderling celebrated his quarterfinal win over Federer

Deep in their hearts, every competitor on the tour admires the amazing consistency and record of accomplishment of the greatest player to ever grace a Grand Slam court. So, while it was with great joy that Robin Soderling celebrated his quarterfinal win over Federer, that joy was also tempered by a very real sense of respect.

Soderling’s win ended Federer’s amazing record of gaining the 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals. That record is even more amazing when one realizes that the record is amassed on four very different surfaces. While it is no secret that certain players thrive on different surfaces, Roger Federer’s amazing run dates back to Wimbledon 2004.

The fifth seeded Soderling put an end to the run with his quarterfinal upset. After losing the first set, Soderling rallied to register a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in a rain-interrupted match. All tolled, the match lasted two hours and 36 minutes.

In winning the match, Soderling becomes the first player to defeat French Open Champions in the semifinals in two consecutive years. Last year, the Swede ended Rafa Nadal’s four year reign at Roland Garros. Nadal not only lost the match but the number one ranking as well. The same result could very well await Federer.

In the opening set, Federer looked invincible. He took control of the pace and seemed to win the first point in every game. Using an occasional drop shot and his pinpoint one-handed backhand, Soderling barely offered any resistance to the Swiss charge.

All that changed when Soderling broke Federer in the second game of the second set. It was a lead the fifth seed would not relinquish. Soderling’s punishing serve drove Federer behind the baseline while the challenger was playing most shots either on the baseline or inside the back line. Soderling used sharp-angled shots to finish off the set.

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Both players served effectively in the third set. Federer had the first break opportunity with Soderling serving at 4-5. Roger failed to convert on the set point. With the Swiss serving at 5-5 30/15, play was again interrupted by rain. When play resumed, Federer won the first point to lead 40/15 but Soderling ran off four straight points to steal the game. He then served out the set.

Ever the champion, Federer broke and took a 2-0 lead in the fourth set. Soderling responded by running up a 0/40 lead against the defending champion when play was once again interrupted.

Soderling broke the Swiss and captured the final break at 4-4. Once again the winner served out the set. Soderling’s win denied the number one seed his 200th Grand Slam victory.

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Awaiting Soderling in the semifinals will be 24 year old Czech star Tomas Berdych, who stormed past Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-1, 6-2. Berdych is the first Czech to reach the semis since 1992.

The 17th seeded Berdych has now won eight straight matches. Soderling owns a 4-3 record against Berdych but the Czech star won their only meeting on clay.


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