Luckily for Nadal, he passed this test with flying colors.
After struggling throughout the first week of the tournament, the top-seeded Spaniard easily defeated the only man to have beaten him at Roland Garros, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(3).
Nadal was on point from the start of the match, as he took control of the rallies early and had very few unforced errors. In fact, in the second set, which he easily won 6-1, he only had a total of two unforced errors, which were offset by eight winners.
Soderling, on the other hand, was not able to put up any resistance to Nadal. His movement was poor, and he struggled with his first-serve percentage. Furthermore, Nadal was able to take advantage of the Swede's second serve, which further compounded his difficulties in the match.
Soderling did have a brief surge in the third set, as he was able to break Nadal's serve and consolidate that break in order to even the set at 2-2. He was then able to take the set to a tiebreak. Unfortunately for Soderling, Nadal took control in the breaker, as he quickly surged to a 4-1 lead that he never relinquished.
After winning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona to start off the clay-court season, Nadal looked poised to contend for his sixth French Open title. After subsequently being defeated in the finals of Madrid and Rome by Novak Djokovic and then struggling in his first four matches of the French Open, the world No. 1 looked vulnerable.
When faced with his first test at Roland Garros against a top player, Nadal was able to rise to the challenge. He will have to do the same if he wants to take the title, however, as it looks likely that the top four men in the world will all advance to the semifinals.
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