2010 French Open: Why Robin Soderling Finally Beat Roger Federer

Rahil DevganCorrespondent IJune 2, 2010


There are many reasons why Roger Federer finally failed to make it to the semifinals of a Grand Slam. Foremost among these is the fact that all streaks which involve winning have to end.

And this wasn’t a “participating-in-a-major kind of streak”. It was more of a “beating-five-of-the-world’s-top-players-at-every-major-for-six-years” kind of streak!

Notice the difference in context .

This was a streak and it has accordingly been celebrated in the tennis world.

Leave talks of Federer’s demise aside, for he has been written off too often and made far too many people eat their words. I’m not falling for it.

If forced, I will only gratefully concede that Federer’s demise is relative. And that is to be expected.

But for people who think Robin Soderling is anywhere close to the sporting definition of a “cuckoo”, please think again.

He boasts the kind of game that is typical of what sport calls a “giant killer"— fearlessness, power and the most important factor of them all—the belief that he actually could win.

If you follow American sport, think Appalachian State, the Golden State Warriors and the New York Giants because they defined both fearlessness as well as the belief that they could win. And none defined it better.

Don’t get this wrong. Roger Federer did not lose because his semifinal streak had to end. It could have ended next month at SW19, the same way Sampras was stunned by Krajicek in 1996.

He didn’t lose because he had beaten Soderling 12 times in a row and therefore Soderling had to beat him once. Rockin’ Robin could have done that at a lesser tournament in the near future.

And strangely enough, Roger Federer did not lose because he played unusually badly. One couldn’t say the same about his final against Del Potro at Flushing Meadows or his French Open losses to Nadal.

He lost because he was outplayed.

Because Soderling played better than him.

He served better, returned better and flattened his forehand unleashing enough power to cause Federer more than just discomfort.

With his backhand he was consistent if not devastating and when he had opportunities, he grabbed them unlike in the past. I would never bet against Nadal on clay but if someone can beat him, I’d like to think it would be the Swede.

A monumental effort is required to beat Roger Federer in the latter stages of a Grand Slam. The opponent has to play out of his skin and Federer simply cannot be at his best. Del Potro did it at the US Open. Nadal did it at Wimbledon while Safin did it at the Australian Open five years ago.

But this time?

Federer played well. Not at his very best which is what we may have grown accustomed to, but he played good tennis.

Soderling played better.