June 1, 2010 in Tennis
Nobody beats Robin Soderling 13 times in a row. Nobody.
In the most unexpected result since he ousted 4-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the French Open last year (becoming the first, and so far, only man to beat Rafa at the French), Robin Soderling delivered another shock bomb today when he defeated world no. 1 Roger Federer, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
It was sweet revenge for Soderling on a couple of levels — first, he had never beaten Federer in 12 previous attempts; and second, he lost to Federer in the French Open final last year (after which he said that before the match that he “yokingly” said that “nobody beats me 10 times in a row” — of course, he lost another couple of times to Federer after that, extending the streak to 12).
The stunning upset in the quarterfinals also brought an end to Federer’s remarkable 23 consecutive appearances in Grand Slam semifinals. The next closest is Ivan Lendl with 10. And if Nadal wins the French (and let’s face it, he probably will), Federer will lose his no. 1 ranking, robbing him of the chance to tie Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at that spot.
Good for Soderling. All streaks have to end some time. This French Open has now become a redemptive quest for Rafa — or perhaps the crowning of the official giant slayer in men’s tennis?