No. 2 seed Roger Federer shouldn't have too much trouble facing Swede-powerhouse Robin Soderling (No. 5 seed) when the two face off tonight in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York.
The 29-year-old Swiss star leads Soderling, 26, 12-1 in overall matchups, and is 4-1 against him in Grand Slams. In that solo defeat, Soderling provided Federer with an early quarterfinal exit on the clay courts on June 1st of the 2010 French Open in a surprising four-set match: 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
It was his second victory in a row on the clay over a No. 1 seed. In the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2009, Soderling knocked off Spanish sensation Rafael Nadal.
But against Federer, Soderling has never ousted the 16-Grand Slam winner on the hard courts. He's 0-6 against the five-time U.S. Open champion.
Prior to the French, Federer had bested Soderling 28 out of 30 sets. So is it possible that Soderling's luck just lies on the clay? Or can he step up to the challenge to defeat the king of tennis on another surface?
Federer also defeated Soderling in the quarterfinals of last year's U.S. Open in four sets 6-0, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (6), before losing to Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro in the finals. But despite the U.S. Open victory against the Giant Killer, Federer remains humbled by the Roland Garros loss in June.
"I expect it to be really tough, especially now that he's gotten a taste of how to beat me," said Federer, who is appearing in his 26th straight appearance in a major quarterfinal (second to Jimmy Connors, 27). "It's up to me to clean up my game and put in a good performance."
Federer started off 2010 in January by winning the Australian Open, but fell in the French and Wimbledon, and went on a seven-month slump before winning a title. Federer's drought ended in late August when he won the Cincinnati Masters in his last tournament prior to the U.S. Open. That's good news for him heading into the second week at Flushing Meadows.
With a full head of steam, he has not dropped a set in his first four matches in the Open, defeating Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the third round handily 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Soderling has played a five-set and a four-set match, defeating Spain's Albert Montanes in the third round, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
Soderling has one hard-court title this year, winning in Rotterdam on February 14th. He fell to American Andy Roddick in the second round at the Cincinnati Masters.
The windmill-style server was able to defeat Federer at the French with his serve, on the slower, high-bouncing clay court. But tonight, on the hard court, will be a different story.