Roger Federer’s chance for winning a first French Open title multiplied on Sunday when four-time defending champ Rafael Nadal suffered a shock defeat in the fourth round to Sweden’s Robin Soderling 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2), ending a record 31-match winning streak at Roland Garros.
Soderling, a spotty performer not known for his claycourt acumen, took charge with his forehand, flipping the script on the Spaniard.
“He can’t feel good right now,” said Soderling of Nadal, telling reporters the Spaniard is “the greatest claycourt player of all time.”
Nadal had beaten Federer in the last three French Open finals. Federer’s draw opened up yesterday when Novak Djokovic was unexpectedly bounced in straight sets.
Nadal had also won three of the last four Slams, including the first Slam of 2009 at the Australian Open.
“He didn’t surprise me because I know how he plays and how dangerous he can be,” Nadal told reporters. “I didn’t play my best. I played very short and I couldn’t attack. I made it easy for him to play at his level. But I lost. It’s not a tragedy, I had to lose one day. I must accept my defeats with the same level of calm that I accept my victories.”
The event also lost its women’s defending champ Sunday when Ana Ivanovic sprayed unforced errors everywhere in a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. World No. 1 Dinara Safina had no such trouble, blistering Aravane Rezai of France 6-1, 6-0.
“I’m just surprised that it’s really like five games that I lost before getting into the quarters,” Safina told reporters. “It’s not a bad feeling, and I hope if I continue like this I can go a long way.”
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