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Before the French Open in 2009, Rafael Nadal was the most dominant clay tennis player on the planet.
He was unbeatable by anyone’s standards, and had amassed 31 match victories on the surface. As Howard Fendrich coined, “Nadal never truly was challenged, much less defeated, at the French Open, allowing him to win four consecutive titles…”
Nadal entered the match with Soderling with six Grand Slam titles already under his belt. Every odds-maker on the planet had Nadal being the odds on favorite to win the entire tournament.
Robin Soderling’s credentials at the time of his match with Nadal—zero major tournament championships.
Soderling had never even made it out of the third-round of a major tennis championship.
The 23rd seeded Soderling beat No. 1 seeded Rafael Nadal 6–2, 6–7(2), 6–4, 7–6(2).
This victory at the French Open made Soderling the first and, as of the beginning of the 2012 French Open, the only person to beat Nadal at the French Open. Soderling also became the only person to beat Nadal in a best of five-set match on clay.