Robin Soderling defeated four time Roland Garros Champion in four sets at Philippe Chatrier in less than four hours in the fourth round.
If you are Rafael Nadal or one of his loyal fans, then the word should start with 'D'. Devastated. Disgusted. Disappointed. The tournament suddenly should not matter to you no matter whoever wins from here on.
There should be a huge void left in this tournament and you are not that keenly interested to take stock of who is facing next in the coming rounds.
But that is about it and you will pin up your hopes on him and move on to the next Grand Slam as your icon expressed at his press conference rather than whining over the loss, "but in the end is one more match, yeah".
It surely was a shocker which no one expected Nadal to falter to a man whom he last defeated by just giving one game at Rome Masters series.
Speculations now are rife whether Nadal should not have played so many clay tournaments or must not have tried the garish pink-yellow outfit.
When asked on whether, this defeat makes your victories even greater? Nadal replied, "No. No, defeats never make you grow, but you also realize how difficult what I achieved up until today was, and this is something you need sometimes. You need a defeat to give value to your victories".
Soderling's achievement has suddenly left the draw wide open, none more than to Roger Federer. The prayers by his supporters had worked big time and angels had shown mercy over the to-be-newly become dad, by taking out the top contenders in two back to back days.
The stars have aligned in the best possible way for the Basel resident and if he plays anywhere close to his potential, it should be cakewalk from here on. His probable line up now includes Haas, Monfils, Del Potro and Murray. He could be playing his four important matches of his life.
It is like an exam that you most fear and you are shell shocked to find questions for which you definitely know the answers. One should be feeling ecstatic the moment the burden of expectation to clear the test is relieved on the shoulders.
Federer is just now in that territory and he is experienced enough not to be complacent till he achieves his goal.
Watch for the first serve percentage, break point and ace count statistics to surge and expect a straight set clinical performance from here on till he lifts the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy.
Soderling also has jolted Nadal's chances for Wimbledon and the trophy is up in the air for grabs. The pressure and expectation would be considerably lesser now on the Spaniard and the media should project the one who wins the Stella Artois or Halle grass court warm up tournaments in a big way.
Magnus Norman coached Soderling showed what could be achieved when you step on the court with belief. Being the underdog also helped him in taking down the bull by it's horn in his backyard surface.
If he is on a red hot from like Tsonga was in Australian Open '08, then his probable line up to the finals would include Davydenko, Murray and Federer. After taking out Nadal, people really do not wish him to reach that far. He is the least preferred player to watch in the circuit.
Soderling has displayed a fearless attitude and put up a magnificent performance over —not one set—but over four sets to take down the reigning champion. He even has shown his other side by not celebrating wildly or by rolling on the clay or thumping his chest or sending a glare to the champion.
He threw his racket to the crowd, raised his arms and was the first one to leave the arena with the applause.
Soderling's service was working and was able to adopt the one-two punch by serving wide and dispatching the return short ball from his forehand side to put the opponent out of the court. He played the match of his life.
Despite this achievement, few would still like to remember him as the ugly Sod and would be mighty pleased if he falters in his Quarter final against Davydenko. Imitating Nadal in Wimbledon '07 might have caused the displeasure to tennis fans but that should not shadow his on court achievements. Infact, he is no cockier than Djokovic.
Much to the dismay, if he racks up his first Grand Slam title possibly by taking down a red hot Federer, he would still wonder thinking what did I do such a thing that led to the hatred amongst many tennis pundits.
Winning a title of significance, for once, may help in putting his nickname to rest and should provoke people in talking about his game than his demeanour or antics.
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