1. The Underachiever
Söderling use to be known as an underachiever, a person who did not fulfill his true potential. He was credited for reaching the US Open Junior final in 2002, and then making his transition to the main tour in 2003 with a third round appearance at Wimbledon, after qualifying rounds, and a final appearance in the Stockholm final.
But consistent injuries mixed with poor results saw him drop out of the top 100.
2. Mocking Nadal at Wimbledon
In 2007 Söderling and Rafael Nadal met in the third round of Wimbledon.
They played a match that went to five sets and was played over a number of days because of rain delays. Although Nadal won the match, Söderling was the one who got all of the media attention. At the beginning of the fifth set Nadal was ready to serve when Söderling went to his chair to get a new racket.
When coming back on court Nadal seemed frustrated with this action. As Nadal was going through his service motion he stopped and held the ball high.. In response to that Söderling mocked Nadal by pulling at his shorts like the Spaniard is known to do. This caused outrage with Nadal fans and the incident was all over the media.
3. Only person to beat Nadal at the French Open
In 2009 seeded 23rd Söderling went through to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.
His opponent? Non other than the four time defending champion Rafael Nadal.
One month earlier at the Rome Masters the Spaniard obliterated the Swede 6-1 6-0, therefore, many pundits believed this to be a cake walk for Nadal. However, Söderling scored the biggest win of his career and the biggest upset of the year by beating Nadal 6–2, 6–7(2), 6–4, 7–6(2). He went on to reach the final where he lost to Federer.
4. ‘The Giant Killer’, Beating Federer at the French Open
With this win came many statistics.
Söderling became only the second man to beat both Nadal and Federer at Grand Slam level (other being Del Potro who beat both men while going on to win the US Open). He also became the only person to beat both Nadal and Federer while they were the defending champions and world number ones.
Although the second statistic is a little far-fetched it is a good feat nonetheless. However, Söderling also prevented Federer from reaching his 24th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final since 2004 and stopped him from equaling Pete Sampras’ record of 286 total weeks as the number one seed.
5. Being a fifth seed Swede
All of a sudden the only statistic that is continuously being reminded to us by many pundits and commentators is that Söderling is the only Swedish tennis player ranked inside the top 300. Plus that he is "very dangerous on his day" and that "clay is now his best surface".
It goes nearly unnoticed that he is a two time Grand Slam finalist, but everybody knows that about Murray.
It is time for Söderling to make everyone remember him for a different reason. In order for him to achieve this he has to add some things to his resume.
Win a couple of Masters Series titles
These titles do wonders for careers. Davydenko’s career looks much more prestigious with his three titles plus his WTF title that he claimed last year. Plus he is considered a serious threat at these events. Same for Nalbandian.
Win at least two titles per year
This will big up his profile and make him a more serious top ten player. This year he has four finals but just one win in Rotterdam. Djokovic and Murray both have two titles this year and both get a lot of recognition. This also has to do with point No. 3.
Be more consistent throughout the year. Especially at the slams
Many thought that this would be the year when Söderling put a string of good performances together. However that was not the case. Even if he had one final and two quarter-finals at Grand Slam level he lost in the first round of the Australian Open.
In addition to this he has not always beat the top guys. He has only done so at the French Open. Same with the Masters Series. He reached the semi-finals both at Indian Wells and Miami but has not reached another since. Consistency is everything in tennis as the top four will tell you; Söderling has yet to manage this.
If he manages these three tasks next year, we will not be referring to him as being just the fifth seed, but as one of the “big five." Something that will mean he is feared and respected amongst his peers.