French Open '09: Sublime Soderling Makes His First Grand Slam Final

RockCorrespondent IJune 5, 2009

PARIS - JUNE 05:  Robin Soderling of Sweden celebrates a point during the Men's Singles Semi Final match against Fernando Gonzalez of Chile on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 5, 2009 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Magnus Norman coached Robing Soderling announces himself into his first Grand Slam final of his career with a 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Fernando Gonzalez from Chile.

Before someone talks anything about Soderling, they should know a bit about his coach and fellow Swede, Norman. Both of them started working together for just six months and one can already see the results they achieved together. The reason?

The coach had pin-pointed the problem with Soderling and has toned down his temper. It clearly was evident in the matches when Soderling was showing no emotions when he was up or down a break point against his opponents.

Soderling was a break point down in his very first service game. He missed his first serve and Gonzalez was waiting to make most of the second serve. Soderling fires a huge second service at 183 kmph to swat an easy return into the open court. That is how Soderling played this tournament upto this mark.

Both players traded huge forehands and it was a spectacular display of hard hitting shots when they were trading blows down the middle of the court. With only a break of serve, Soderling seized the first set 6-3.

Gonzalez had the advantage of serving ahead in the second set. Even though he has got his nose his front, the Chilean was seen playing catching up game most of the time. for most part of the second set. He had his chances when he had his first set point, and Soderling fired a power packed ace to save the point and levelled the score at 5 all.

The Tibro resident from Sweden broke the Chilean in the next service game and comfortably went on to hold his next service to seal the second set at 7-5.

The 12th seed was hanging by the thread in the third and surged ahead to a 6-5 lead. Soderling was serving to stay in the set and it was expected that the match would head to a tie-breaker. Gonzalez found his shots which Soderling had no answers and was able to break the Swede's service game to be able to stay in the match snatching the third set at 7-5 in 40 minutes.

Other than the first set, Soderling was always serving second in the other sets. A momentum shift was on the cards with Soderling dropping his intensity by a tad at the end of the third and in the beginning of the fourth set.

The God father from Sweden, Bjorn Borg was present in the stands and was watching his countryman spank shots from both the wings at the Chilean. Body language of Soderling was not quite as good as it was in the opening sets and Gonzalez had hopes of extending this match to a decider.

Soderling was seen missing few forehand shots which he made them comfortably at the beginning of the match. Gonzalez finding his first serves in, holds his service game to love to take a 4-3 lead in the fourth set. The Chilean managed to do that for a brief moment and Soderling was seen pumping his fist after winning his service game.

Gonzalez was seen arguing for a ball that Soderling hit which landed just on the edge of the side line. He lost the argument and erased the mark by sitting on the court and rubbing it off with his back. Gonzalez managed to keep his cool and won that game to lead 5-4 in the fourth set.

Soderling hit his first double fault of the match in the next service game. A wide forehand smacked by Soderling landed outside the sideline and had given Gonzalez the fourth set.

Serving first set again in the fifth set gave Gonzalez the advantage and his confidence was soaring after taking the match to the decider. He led the set 4-1 and Soderling was seen missing his forehands.

Soderling finally decided to go for broke and it has paid him off. He got his mojo back and could find his forehands hitting their mark. He reeled of the next five games in a row to finish an emphatic win over the Chilean.

He was put under the gun and prevailed in five sets after controlling Gonzalez for most part of the match. Credit to Gonzalez for hanging by the skin of this teeth to make a match out of it. He almost pulled it through until Soderling started finding his display of shots in a keenly contested match.

Norman reached the French Open finals in 2000 and choked at big moments, to lose a four set battle to the eventual Champion Gustavo Kuerten. What has the Master got to offer the student at the finals? 

"Playing in a Grand Slam final is an incredible experience. I am well aware of the errors I made. I was too nervous and didn’t manage to use that stress productively. If Robin goes out on court on Sunday, I know exactly what advice to give him.”

Norman's student has reached his first Grand Slam final. Soderling did not show not much emotion after thumping a forehand shot which won him the match. He felt on his knees, put his head down and got up quickly to shake hands at the net.

Soderling would love to follow the advice given by his master and make it a remarkable coach - player combination to script one of the amazing runs in a Grand Slam.

To their credit, they should not be complacent over their accomplishments to play a match on the second Sunday.

Soderling without showing any nerves should try to deploy the same tactic in the final which had been working for him all through this tournament, which is, "Go swinging".