Robin Soderling’s victory over Rafael Nadal at the 2009 French Open sent shockwaves through the tennis world when the Swede ousted him in the fourth round.
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Having never lost in his 31 previous matches at Roland Garros, no one expected Nadal to fall to Soderling. In a match that pitted the then number one player in the world vs. the twenty fifth ranked Soderling, there was no stopping the big hitting Swede, who powered a remarkable 61 winners that day.
Ousting his highly fancied adversary in four entertaining sets, his 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 win was unquestionably one of the biggest upsets of all time. The fact this was Soderling’s first appearance in a grand slam fourth round made his achievement all the more impressive.
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Sealing the first set in 34 minutes, Nadal’s experience and class shone through as he won the second in a tie-breaker. Undeterred, the then 24-year-old Soderling kept his cool to win the third and fourth sets in style.
Hitting nine aces and converting 83% of his break points, Soderling expertly got the job done and took his opportunities admirably. “I told myself this is just another match,” said Soderling after the win. “All the time, I was trying to play as if it was a training session. When I was 4-1 up in the tie-break, I started to believe.”
Nadal’s comments afterward also made for interesting reading, saying: “He didn’t surprise me because I know how he plays, how dangerous he can be. I didn’t play my best tennis. No, I didn’t attack in no one moment. I played very short, and I made it very easy for him to play at this level.”
Soderling would keep up his momentum thereafter, as he defeated Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez in the quarters and semis respectively to earn himself a spot in the final against Roger Federer.
Although he lost against the masterful Swiss king, the man who rose as high as fourth in the world, will never forget a hugely memorable 2009 French Open, which was highlighted by his sensational win over Nadal.