Soderling Real Deal at French Open; Federer Up Wednesday
by Staff | June 2nd, 2009, 6:38 pm
  • 89 Comments

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s conqueror, Swede Robin Soderling, showed he is no one-off on Tuesday at the French Open, obliterating Roland Garros veteran Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 to move into the semifinals where he will face Chile’s Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez.


He is the first Swede to reach the Roland Garros semifinals since his coach Magnus Norman in 2000, but appears in only his second career claycourt semi after Bastad in 2004.

“I always knew that I could play really, really good tennis when I’m on top of my game,” said Soderling.

Davydenko was a French Open semifinalist in 2005 and 2007, and entered the event this year on the tail end of a foot injury.

“I really don’t know what I can say about the match,” Davydenko said. “If I tried to play well, he played much better. He surprised me; he played faster than before. The three times I lost to him [previously] I was never allowed to play well.” 

Soderling is now 16-10 on the year, in the midst of an inexplicable run for a player better known for his indoor fastcourt acumen.

“I didn’t have a very easy draw,” Soderling said. “I played three very good claycourt players and I played three very good matches, so of course my confidence is getting better and better.”

Gonzalez became the first Chilean to reach the Roland Garros semifinals Tuesday after beating the third-seeded Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Clay has been the Chilean’s meal ticket, with eight of his 11 titles coming on the surface. The 28-year-old also won the 1998 Roland Garros junior title over future world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.

“I played a poor third set,” Murray commented on the bagel. “I have to give a lot of credit to him. I’ve played him before and he hits the ball hard, but today he was hitting it huge…he hit his forehand great and didn’t make many errors off it. Maybe I put too many balls to this stroke. His one-two punch off the serve was pretty impressive. He was hitting forehand winners a meter or two outside the tramlines. You cannot do a whole lot about that.”

Wednesday’s men’s quarterfinals at Roland Garros feature (11) Gael Monfils vs. (2) Roger Federer, and (5) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (16) Tommy Robredo.


Also Check Out:
Soderling v. Del Potro in Heavyweight Estoril Battle; Djokovic Eyes No. 28
Nadal vs. Soderling French Final After Fade by Berdych
Toronto Draw: Nadal, Murray Tough; Federer, Djokovic Easy
Federer, Roddick Awarded Favorable Draws in Miami
Who’s the Pick for Wimbledon? Federer? Nadal? Someone Else?

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89 Comments for Soderling Real Deal at French Open; Federer Up Wednesday

jane Says:

Interesting that in their pressers both Murray and Gonzalez spent considerable time discussing Gonzalez’s, as he called it, “natural” forehand. Nuclear more like. Murray seemed to rue his lost chances right at the end there, though.


Kimmi Says:

Soderling !! I am very impressed..hat off to you.

Some words from Uncle Toni after Nadal defeat.

http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,25579406-23210,00.html

So what if they did not support Nadal ? maybe they like the underdog, who was giving a clay King a match of his life !!

Very bad move from Uncle Toni.
To be honest I don’t think Nadal team is doing themselves any favours by calling the parisian crowd “stupid” in public. When those people read this (which most of them will), Nadal will even have tougher time in years to come. Bad bad move.


jane Says:

Kimmi, the word “stupid” was a poor choice, I agree. However, it was certainly unsporting and disrespectful – to say the least – to cheer against Nadal, who has offered nothing but spectacular tennis to that crowd and city!!! He has set all sorts of records. It’s pathetic. I don’t care if a crowd is partisan, cheering for their favorite or local hero, but to cheer “against” someone of Rafa’s fame is not cool. They also cheered Roddick’s errors in the Monfils match. The French crowd is notoriously cruel.


zola Says:

Kimmi,
remember this is a translation. I don’t know if it is the same in Spanish.

It is not that they cheer for the underdog. During the Fed-PHM match they cheered for Federer.

Rafa has brought history back to Roland Garros. The only guy who won the cup 4 times is Borg. he has always been repectful to the french crowd. This was not the first time.

I wouldn’t care if Rafa never played in Paris again. he has won it 4 times anyway!
Eafa can take the FO time off and come with more energy to the venues in AO, Wimbledon and US Open , where his efforts are appreciated.

The French crowd have been cruel not only to Rafa, but to serena, to Roddick, to Hingis, ….they are a strange bunch!


zola Says:

btw,
great match by Soderling! lost only 5 games to Davydenko. I think he is on fire.


Cindy_Brady Says:

Boo Hoo…Blah Blah Blah Uncle Toni.

The fans can route for who they wish. They paid for it. Rafa has won many matches in hostile territory. He just lost to a better player on that day. They had nothing to do with it.

Rafa has more class in defeat than uncle Toni. He needs to just shut up! He’s not doing Nadal any favors by opening his yap!


Kimmi Says:

Cindy_brady, I agree. Why do players get parents, uncles or some relatives to speak for them in public is beyond me.

Well, well, Uncle Toni…making public statements like that is hardly a way to get the French fans to change their ways and embrace Rafa the next time. All you’ve done is antagonize them some more.


Shan Says:

Great – Maybe Soderling’s patch of form will see him through to win the Roland Garros!!! This could be the year for the mean guys not liked on the tour!!!


Shan Says:

Re Uncle Toni, he is an athlete and a coach first, master of public relations second


Kimmi Says:

If del potro wins tomorrow (he has a great chance by the way) he will separate himself in ranking from # 6. Very impressed with del potro run this year.


jane Says:

“Maybe Soderling’s patch of form will see him through to win the Roland Garros!!! ”

Can you imagine?


Shan Says:

Del Potro really started proving himself last year around the summertime I think. I never got the comment that he said to Murray that match the other about Murray being “just like his mom”. I guess things get pretty personal in the locker room – must be a small world that the juniors play in.


steve Says:

Uncle Toni never seemed to mind the Parisian crowd when his nephew was winning. Or at least, he never saw fit to open his mouth about it in public.

Nadal lost because he faced a better player on the day, that’s all there is to it.


Shaky Says:

I agree with Kimmi and (partly) Steve.

I don’t think it’s “unsporting” or “pathetic” for a crowd to root for whomever. They saw Nadal struggling, weren’t big fans, wanted to see an upset that particular day, so they cheered for Soderling. If he’d come back and pulled it out, they definitely would have cheered them both at the end of 5, it’s not like nadal’s an insufferable character.

I understand Nadal has won a lot there but saying a crowd is “stupid” for not supporting you is something my 9 year old nephew would say. Fans are fans. Nadal should tell Uncle Toni to lock it up. What’s really weird is how this is probably the one thing that still really distinguishes tennis from pretty much every other sport I can think of: tennis families complaining.


gracesette Says:

Soderling may be a good player. But he is truly unprofessional when he made fun of Nadal. Not at all warranted. I want him to lose for obvious reasos. Also, he is not well liked on the circuit.


jane Says:

I don’t care that a crowd roots “For” someone, as I mentioned; I take issue when they patently root “against” someone else, and cheer on their mistakes etc. Especially Rafa.

So I suppose all you folks will not mind if Federer gets booed or jeered at in Wimbledon this year then? If the crowd starts cheering on his mistakes? I guess that’s fine.

Well, to each his/her own. To me, it’s not sporting.


jane Says:

I mean especially Rafa because of what he’s achieved there, not because he’s my favorite player or anything, hence I give the Fed and Wimbledon example as a parallel.

I don’t condone Toni speaking out or saying they’re stupid as i agree with whomever opined this’ll only fan the flames. But on the other hand I don’t agree with a crowd cheering on a player *to lose*!


Shaky Says:

I don’t get how that’s not sporting to cheer for your player/team or to cheer against another player/team.

I guess it’s just that in every sport but this one everyone does exactly this (and far worse: actual heckling and throwing stuff). How can it not be “sporting” if it’s part and parcel of every sport but one? I don’t mean to make this a semantic argument, just find that one piece ironic.

I like the idea of players winning in spite of the crowd being against them, far more than I am impressed with a player saying they won because a crowd rooted for them. And like I said, if Nadal had pulled that out in 5, the crowd would have applauded him fantastically, is there any question?

No competitor is going to actually blame the crowd for a loss, ever. I can’t think of anything more faux pas than that. Nadal certainly wouldn’t, I like to think none of those guys would. I think this is just a tennis families phenomenon. Never heard of this whining in any other sport — can you imagine if the coach of Man U went to a presser and complained that a crowd boo’d his team? I can’t tell if I’d be speechless or rolling.

(Also I’m trying to wrap my mind around a wimbledon crowd turning on federer. Seems impossible. Maybe Murray can make that happen.)


jane Says:

Okay maybe I chose the wrong word Shaky. You got a point. I just don’t like it so much. I hate to see a player – even a player I hate – cheered against and booed at. Seems mean and low. Yet I love to see a player lifted by a crowd within reason.

I think you’re right – it’s possible Murray could get the crowd against Fed. You bet. If it was for a title there, or a title match spot, they’d be going right mad, and I suppose a Fed shank or two could draw roars of approval. Do you remember his match with Gasquet? Well that’s what I mean about “within reason” because although the crowd were amazing in their support for Murray, I felt sorry for Gasquet in that match when they’d cheer his misses.

I know what you mean with all that “in spite of it all” business (especially given that I like Djoko – lol) but again that’s never been my cup of tea. Just like I don’t like to see players playing while they’re limping from blisters or puking on the court; I’d rather see them play their best when they’re well and have some support.

Maybe it’s just personal preference and i’m a softie.


Shaky Says:

Cheering when Roddick shanks a return is also cheering that Monfils hit a service winner, right? If he misses a shot, some of that is directly related to the pressure Monfils is putting on him to make exactly that good of a return.

I think the crowd cheers when good things happen for the guy they want to win, and sometimes that’s when your guy hits a winner, other times it’s that the other guy double faulted on break point. You can’t really ask a crowd rooting for an upset to clam up when the latter happens.

Tennis is a funny animal with very different etiquette I suppose, just no cheering during the point. Impossible to agree on this but at least the tennis has been good.


jane Says:

What if they cheer when a player hits it into the net? It’s not the same imo. But you’re right that tennis has a different etiquette altogether. And the crowds a different events seem to have different personalities, if that’s even possible. Funny notion though.

And yes, the tennis has been good.


jane Says:

If he misses a shot it could be because of the pressure the crowd is putting on him too!


Tom Foober Says:

Monfils needs slow conditions to pull this off even a slight rain.

The French crowd can put too much pressure on Gael knowing Gasquet was cheated of the opportunity. Look for Federer to win either way it will be a great match.

What a tournament it’s been thus far with the upsets. I am in heaven right now.


Kimmi Says:

Good points Shaky, I agree with you completely. For some reason players have accepted this to happen in the Davis cup but seem to find it difficult in a normal tournament. Need to get used to it I think because looks like the tennis audience is changing not like the way it used to be 3 or 4 decades ago.


Shan Says:

Jane – without fans there would be no sports – there would be no market, there would be no sponsors, there would be no money. We have to accept the fans if we are to accept the sport. Mute your radio to mute the annoying booing and you miss all the commentary and action. Turn off your television to miss the fan cupping his hands at his mouth in order to properly assonate his “boo” sound and you miss the drop shot that turns the match around.

Fans bring an energy and excitement to sport that electrifies and energies not only themselves but sometimes the athletes. With all the bad fans bring to sport they bring a tremendously greater good that would be sorely missed – dare I say boring.


Shaky Says:

Well of course crowds swing sporting events, that’s why home court advantage exists for the most part. :) But tennis already puts up so many boundaries though: no talking during points, no moving during points, no targetted signs, etc.

We only allow fans to be fans between points, so to complain about a crowd not cheering for your nephew just seems really lame: tennis players are more protected than world leaders vis a vis spectators.

I like performers performing in spite of hostile crowds, rising above it. That’s why winning on the road in any sport is so revered; it’s why they fight over venue in boxing or MMA (just as technical an individual sport as tennis, but with people constantly cheering/jeering, flash photography, and frankly a lot more at stake).

I think Novak had some complaints about the US Open crowd last year that sort of turned on him as well, and I remember that as being unusual. The fact that we’re even talking about this probably means it’s very very rare to complain about the crowd, maybe even against etiquette?


Tom Foober Says:

Let us please not talk about that oger of a man name, Roddick.

The man humiliates himself with every step he takes thank god he lost. “I can’t see”,…”it’s dark”… waaaawaaaa little baby. Monfils couldnt see either you know.

I miss Nadal terribly now that he is gone, Im sad:(


zola Says:

Tom Foober,

@9:32
I am in heaven right now.

@9:45
Im sad:(

lol!

I miss Rafa too! but the rest might do him good and as a fan, I can sleep a bit more in the mornings!

There is a discussion about Roddick and light in the other thread. He is definitely not an Ogre.


Tom Foober Says:

Serena can win this but I think Safina gets her this time.

Sharapova was lame today in her showing saying she was too tired is very understated and only a half truth.

Cirstea has caught my eye as a player to watch for.


jane Says:

OMG, I don’t want fans to go away altogether. This is getting outta hand. I love the excitement the crowd brings to events, it’s a hoot. I just said I don’t like crowds booing a player, and cheering for him/her to lose, especially a player who has earned considerable respect and is only trying to play his/her game.

It’ll be shocking when Federer has to play without crowd support and to see the crowd cheer on his misses, because he’s pretty much always had the crowd on his side, although I did hear a boo or two when he smashed his racket. But I won’t say anything about it, nor will you guys, I am sure.


jane Says:

Tom, at least Roddick didn’t really cry when he lost.


Kimmi Says:

Tom Foober

LOL


TD (Tam) Says:

The classless, boorish French Open crowd deserves a boorish classless champion like Soderling.


Kimmi Says:

I like soderling, he is really warming up to me. His interviews are very humble. I hope he continues to do good things. Great game without choking.

I guess everybody will be looking at his name on wimbledon draw. It will be amazing if he does the same at wimbledon too.


Shaky Says:

When you’re the new guy, you don’t have the crowd (exception might be when you’re really attractive or an athletic freak who can do things no one else can do).

Maybe the reason he’s got the crowd on his side now nearly everywhere is that he put in his dues to get to this point — like I said, there’s no way people rooted for him to beat crowd favorites like sampras at wimbledon, agassi, etc., and maybe they cheer for him now because he beat them then. (Besides, by all accounts I thought people felt he had been a great ambassador for the sport for many years, no? The guy’s not some jerk, right?)

I think I posted back here at the end of the AO that his emotional outburst was actually the first time I actually liked the guy. I didn’t realize you were so anti-federer — sounds like you belong in the Paris crowd. Look now I’m the soft one.


Shaky Says:

Wait I thought soderling was like universally disliked. I’m gonna google this.


zola Says:

Shaky
I think regardless of whether Soderling is liked or not, he is a very good player. He hasn’t been consistent ( I heard from JMAc that he had injuries,…)

So, yes, Kimmi, I think now at wimbledon people will look to see whose half Soderling will be!


Kimmi Says:

Shaky, its Nadal and his fans that don’t like soderling. i don’t think he is “universally disliked” !


jane Says:

Shaky,

“Maybe the reason he’s got the crowd on his side now nearly everywhere is that he put in his dues to get to this point”

Which was exactly my point about Rafa. Sheesh. He’s put in his dues and made history in France, so then what?


Tom Foober Says:

I have yet to see Agassi and Graf in Paris

They were said to be in attendance for the trophy presentation to Federer sunday.


jane Says:

Kimmi,

Actually Soderling does have a sort of rep for being not the most likable guy on the tour. I didn’t like the whole thing between him and Rafa at Wimbledon that year, but I have nothing hugely against the guy. I think his game here has been awesome so far and wouldn’t even mind if he wins the whole thing!


zola Says:

Kimmi,
***Shaky, its Nadal and his fans that don’t like soderling. i don’t think he is “universally disliked” !
***

that’s not true. JMac was talking on ESPN about him and that’ what he said . That he is not liked much by the players and has no friends on tour. It is not just Nadal and his fans!


Tom Foober Says:

Jane

What was that verbal abuse he gave the chair umpire?

That sounded like crying without the tears.


jane Says:

I’m not anti Federer Shaky though he’s not my one of my faves. The crying remark was low but it was made strictly in response to Tom’s low remark about Roddick being a baby and whining. It just came out and I apologise.


Tom Foober Says:

Soderling certainly gave Davydenko a lesson while brimming with confidence from his Nadal shocker.

Martin Verkerk.. anyone?

Comes to mind when I see Soderlings game


Kimmi Says:

Zola, I will have to google that too. He seem to be a very nice guy, humble like Nadal. And i enjoyed reading his interviews.

Jane, i wonder why other players don’t like him .


Tom Foober Says:

Jane

I never once, not once defended Feds crying episode. It really was a pitiful way to ruin the moment for Nadal.

Uncle Toni should shut up already with his latest rant.


Shaky Says:

Ahh touche, I see. I know the guy made fun of Nadal’s issue with his pants riding up his butt at wimbledon, but that’s not really any worse than the novak impersonations everyone loved, is it? People should like this.

Also, i’m kind of surprised people like Tom are getting on Roddick for complaining about the dark. That’s kind of a big deal, I would think, since picking up the ball in bad light is pretty different for different people and has no relationship to fitness or execution. It’s not like we’re putting a moat with alligators out there for the 5th set and then seeing who adapts to it better.

Maybe the reason I’m not being a total jackhole when my guy lost this time is I had low expectations to begin with. :) 4th round? You can boo him all you like, but I’ll take that all day. Someone tell Uncle Toni to temper his expectations and he can have fun like I am instead of whining about some lousy French crowd.


jane Says:

Kimmi I don’t know the history with Soderling and other players and/or even if it’s true. Maybe he just keeps to himself?


jane Says:

Tom,
I take your point about Roddick’s complaints but I don’t think it was babyish; he was just concerned he wouldn’t win in those conditions and said as much. Maybe he wouldn’t've won with more light either. Monfils played an awesome match and hit a lot of winner. But we’ll never know. Anyhow, this whole issue was debated ad nauseum on the other thread so I don’t want to get into it again.


zola Says:

Kimmi,
I think it is on tennis channel website too. I read that he said he was not there to make friends and din’t care what the players thought about him. I will look for the clip for you.

I think liking or dislinking him is not the point ( at least for me ) right now. I think it is obvious that him and Rafa are not the best of friends, but they manage to keep it like that and it should remain like that. Neither said anything bad about the other one after the match. Soderling said Rafa was the best clay court player ever and rafa said he was not surprised by Soderling’s level of play. he has always been dangerous.

As a tennis player, he is playing great tennis now . That’s all that matters now.


Kimmi Says:

Tom Foober
“Uncle Toni should shut up already with his latest rant.”

Talking about uncle Toni.

“He played very badly and Soderling was better. He was more nervous than usual, lacking confidence and his shots lacked precision,” said Toni.

Give credit to Soderling, he played very well and made Nadal not play his game. Ooh…and uncle Toni..nadal came to FO after almost sweeping the clay season, so I don’t think he was “lacking confidence”


jane Says:

“It’s not like we’re putting a moat with alligators out there for the 5th set and then seeing who adapts to it better.” LOL. This is an intriguing thought. Maybe I’ll sign off on that note while I try to imagine the players leaping over the alligators all while making their shots. Snap, smash, snap, volley, snap snap, ace.


zola Says:

Shaky
***
Ahh touche, I see. I know the guy made fun of Nadal’s issue with his pants riding up his butt at wimbledon, but that’s not really any worse than the novak impersonations everyone loved, is it? People should like this.
****

Djoko did the impersonations for fun , not in a match against Rafa to mock him. even so, when Djoko did those in the US OPen final( when asked by the stupid NBC presenter), I did not find them appropriate. You should have been here to read the discussions!


Shan Says:

Yah, he’s not liked very much on the tour apparently. Winning the Roland Garros is not a popularity contest. Even though I personally like it when a likable / liked person wins, it’s always about the best player. Although I think sponsorships are about the popularity / likability factor more. Soderling himself has said that he money isn’t the biggest motivation to play tennis which is perhaps one way he justifies the personality / sponsorship part of tennis in his life (I’m guessing he’s not a huge financial success outside of tennis prize money at this time).

Anyhow Soderling is still a young 24 and in the grand scheme of life that’s pretty young and he may become a nicer guy. Heck Lendl seems to be much nicer than he was when he was a pro.


zola Says:

Kimmi,
when uncle Toni says lacking confidence, to me it does not mean as a player. but I think having confidence in his shots. feeling them. These are expressions that Rafa and Toni use a lot. I guess the whole week he was not able to find his range.

But Rafa himself said ( and wrote in his blog) that he felt good at the warmup but not at the match.


zola Says:

Shan,
of course popularity helps the sponsorship, but imaginbe these guys spend more time on tour than with family and friends. Wouldn’t it make it easier for them to try to be nicer to each other?

Anyway, too late! I need to go!

cheers everyone. great discussions today.


vared Says:

I think Sharapova is like Soderling in that they don’t give a crap what anyone thinks about them.


Shaky Says:

Ahh Zola, we should be happy when these guys are less robotic, even if they’re mocking your guy. If djokovic had a good andy roddick ADHD “I need to fidget 100 times in the 3 seconds before I serve this ball” impersonation I’d definitely want to see it. I guess if used in a match it starts to look more like a psychological game, but come on: all the top guys from fed to nadal to novak… I’d like a little something.

You can already tell the kinds of players I like best: Roddick (has bout 100 nervous ticks, isn’t afraid to complain about a lines call, has easily the only interesting answers to the press), Safin (total nut job, complained about linesmen and calls, broke rackets, swore — and he wasn’t just an out and out jerk like McEnroe), Jimmy Connors.

I’d root for a villain if there was one available. The top guys are so vanilla bland it kills me. It’s an individual sport with no individuality.


besttitw Says:

Jane, audience are biased, probably not respectfully behaved, so what? Shan has made a very strong point: it’s the viewer’s money supporting this whole machine. This is not a perfect world, far from it. As a professional, it’s just one of the many things you gonna swallow, like it or not. There could be many reasons for why FO crowd are not particularly fond of Nadal, I wouldn’t speculate here. You have your opinion/perspective (pro Nadal), they have theirs (con Nadal), it’s essentially same. I do think it’s a bit absurd to command on audience support just because a player has won many times before. You can NOT force Love. If people don’t like you, accept it, be yourself, be a better self and respect their opinion, which is a much better way to get respect compared with complaining. But, of course, it’s uncle Toni. Nadal has been pretty cool on this.


Tom Foober Says:

Fernando Gonzalez*

WOW!!! What personality?

The guy has more carissma then any out there,.. I love it.


andrea Says:

well for all the talk on this blog about uncle toni dissing the french after a LOSS (which is quasi understandable) that only puts novak and his rude family in the spotlight for dissing a player (most notably federer at the AO) after Novak WON.

they win the prize for rudest and unsporting family/player hands down.


Shaky Says:

Yeah I liked Gonzalez in the Murray match, really didn’t see it coming. I haven’t seen enough of him maybe. I’d probably like to see Soderling come out of the top half but only if continues to irritate people and cast him as a bad guy.

That Monfils-Federer match tomorrow is going to be really good. If Federer has the crowd in that one that’d be incredible (Monfils is especially popular and frankly an athletic freak, which I think puts him over other hometown french guys). Let’s see 5 sets and some tempers.


vared Says:

Delpotro on French radio LOL!
I’m playing well but Roger Federer is the favorite. It would be nice for Roland Garros and for history if Federer wins”


MMT Says:

I don’t believe either Toni or Rafa Nadal said he lost BECAUSE the crowd didn’t support him.

What he said was that the French don’t like Spaniards winning the French Open because they feel superior to Spaniards and they show the stupidity of this sense of superiority by rooting AGAINST someone BECAUSE you believe you are superior to them.

I suspect he means that hoping for your prejudices to be proven true only confirms the stupidity of your prejudices in the first place.

It was RAFA who said he hoped they would support him more in key moments, not Toni.

A little more uanced and complicated than what appears here to be the interpretation of what he said.

Also, I should point out that Soderling is getting a bad rap here. I haven’t heard of any issues with any other players – even McEnroe didn’t have any specifics in the commentary, referring only to Wilander complaining that he didn’t make himself available for Davis Cup and came up with injuries all the time.

Furthermore, I should point out that that little incident they showed with Soderling and Nadal at Wimbledon in 2006 was really unfair to Soderling. Here’s what happened:

Rafa goes through his long drawn out routine before he starts to serve with new balls. Soderling suddenly without saying anything runs over to his bag to get a new racquet for the change of balls, which players do all the time. Of course Nadal felt he should have known it was new balls and changed his racquet before interrupting his serve.

Now, put aside the absurdity of Nadal complaining about someone else taking too long on his serve for a minute, because it gets worse from Nadal. Rather than just shaking his head and getting on with it, he proceeds to go through his entire ball-bouncing, hair adjusting, @$$ picking routine and just as he is about to toss the ball decides to SHOW UP Soderling by holding the ball in his hand and saying AGAIN, “new balls” to Soderling, as in, “Oh, by the way, did I tell you that we’re using new balls?” Well, this is a very public mockery of a guy who did nothing but go get a new racquet at the change of balls.

So Soderling THEN proceeds to take a step back after the crowd are all having a big laugh at his expense, and at Rafa’s joke on him, and IN RESPONSE points to Rafa and starts mockingly tugging at this own behind a la Rafa.

AND IT IS THIS that seems to have made him a paraiah – I find that absurd. The makes a joke in response to being mocked by Nadal, and suddenly he’s “unprofessional” and “doesn’t have a lot of friends in the locker room”. That’s ridiculous.

I too think it’s absurd to expect the crowd to support you for ANY reason other than patriotism, and even that’s no guarantee.


tennis bum Says:

New Yorkers have a knack of sifting through the whiners and douche bags and, unfairly or not, depending on who your guy is, pouncing on them like a collective smart bomb. They also love their fellow Americans. What goes around comes around for the euro players. Just ask djoker. Federer is exluded as he is an international treasure like Tiger Woods. The parisians are a queer lot.john mac commented today that the loudest applause he ever got was at rg. And also the biggest flip flop in terms of support.did anyone notice how fed handles the partisan madrid crowd in the final? He blocked them out and served before they quieted down, which in effect instantly quieted them down.


tennis bum Says:

Watching Fed play this tournament is like watching university of maryland mens basketball games. You almost need an attending cardiologist.I can’t get the crass lacoste jingle out of my head. The tennis channel only plays it 10 times an hour.


Von Says:

Tom Foober:

Do you know the absolute definition of an ‘ogre’? I happen to know it, but I don’t think some know the full meaning of the word. here’s the dictionary’s meaning of ‘ogre”

1.a monster in fairy tales and popular legend, usually represented as a hideous giant who feeds on human flesh.

2.a monstrously ugly, cruel, or barbarous person.

I don’t think Andy Roddick is in any way, form or fashion a representative of an ogre. maybe some people all into No. 2, however, it’s not Roddick. Perhaps, and I say perhaps, you don’t like the guy, but please don’t let your imagination run amok.


Shaky Says:

MMT: Comedy gold.

Oh man, it’s a shame now the two dudes I could root for are both on the top half. Gonzalez has emotion and Soderling can apparently tell a joke. Is it too much to hope for Federer to start swearing if he gets behind but pulls it out tomorrow? Maybe something off-color?


St4r5 Says:

What’s wrong with you people? You guys talked about Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Gonzales, Andy Murray, etc.. but not about Roger Federer, about his beautiful tennis, about his champion like character, about his owesome talent, etc…


Von Says:

Shaky:

“You can already tell the kinds of players I like best: Roddick (has bout 100 nervous ticks, isn’t afraid to complain about a lines call, has easily the only interesting answers to the press), Safin (total nut job, complained about linesmen and calls, broke rackets, swore — and he wasn’t just an out and out jerk like McEnroe), Jimmy Connors.”

There you go!! Give me a flesh and blood human being, with foibles and frailties, any day, instead of a politically correct robotic type, who’s a milquetoast character. I suppose you know who I like, Safin and Roddick. I don’t know much about Connors since he’s been before my tennis watching days.

I find a lot of people on this site like to see those who are robotic-like in their behaviours and frown upon a genuine human being. I’d rather have someone tell me to my face what they think about me than go behind my back and whisper. That’s why I like Roddick. If he’s angry he’ll say so. In the real dog-eat-dog world, it’s honesty that counts, and the people who are vocal are the ones responsible for improvements and/or changes, not the milquetoast, who smile and pretend. I’m usually very wary of those who are too prim and proper, because they are the ones who commit the worst crimes, e.g., like beating their spouses in lieu of telling them what went wrong. I like those who live by the motto: “First, to thine own self be true.


Samprazzz Says:

The tour always needs a loose cannon. There’s a long line of them from Ile Nastase, to Jeff Tarango, to Goran Ivanisovic, to Marat Safin, and now Robin Soderling: the first player I’ve ever seen cheer for his own net-chord.
I welcome his ascension. I love Rafa’s game as much as anybody, but his off-court personality is boring. He’s corporate-media-trained. In other words, he always says the politically correct thing. The French need more pizzazz from their champions. They paid for their tickets, let them boo Rafa if they want: lord knows he gets paid enough to take it.


Von Says:

Str4r5:

How much more praise you want for federer? maybe people should start bashing him. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that the posts, especially on this thread, are not about beautiful tennis, but more about who’s doing and/or saying what to whom.

OK, you want some accolades for Federer, here goes: He is the most magnificent creature I’ve ever set eyes upon. And, that plus $2.50 (which is the actual cost) will get you a ride on a bus and/or the subway. In other words, what I’ve just stated about Federer is worthless. Hope you get the picture.


TejuZ Says:

Jane says: “It’ll be shocking when Federer has to play without crowd support and to see the crowd cheer on his misses, because he’s pretty much always had the crowd on his side, although I did hear a boo or two when he smashed his racket.”

This is not the 1st time that Fed is playing Monfils at French Open. He played him last year and was at the receiving end of the crowd’s cheering for his misses. It was the same when he faced Roddick and Agassi on US Open in their QFs and Finals matches. Watch the US Open 2005 finals between Agassi and Federer. Its natural.. most of these fans are also present at the football or rugby matches. I guess the players have to just live with that.

Probabaly Federer gets a bit more respect because he was thwarted by Nadal continuously for past 4 years from achieving calendar slam, but he still keeps coming back and fight for that elusive trophy. To add that, he lost 2 nail-biters to Nadal at wimby and Au Open.


St4r5 Says:

Ok… I get the picture, peace…..


zola Says:

Shaky
***Is it too much to hope for Federer to start swearing if he gets behind but pulls it out tomorrow? Maybe something off-color?
****

Perhaps you haven’t watched the wimbledon 07 final!

***
Ahh Zola, we should be happy when these guys are less robotic, even if they’re mocking your guy. If djokovic had a good andy roddick ADHD “I need to fidget 100 times in the 3 seconds before I serve this ball” impersonation I’d definitely want to see it. I guess if used in a match it starts to look more like a psychological game, but come on: all the top guys from fed to nadal to novak… I’d like a little something.

***

Oh, he has the Roddick imporession and he is very good at. Actually he is very talented. He spots the key movements very well. I have no objection to some humor. Actually he has a locker room impression clip that is just too funny and a couple others. I posted the clips on another forum. There is another one when Banderas visits the locker room in FO and he is in the background doing Desporado impressions. He is hilarius.

I didn’t like the impersonation in the QF of US Open after Rafa was out. And perhaps it was not Djoko’s fault. It was the presenter who persisted. Anyway it is now over. He actually did a Rafa impression this year in the Rome final during the ceremony in front of Rafa and it was fun. The players do these things all the time. I think even in US Open 08 they both did impersonations of each other during a practice match. ….
if you search for Djokovic impersonations on youtube, you can see many of the clips I have mentioned.
I think he wants to be known more for his tennis than the impersonations and that is the case now. But he definitely has a future in acting ( and he looks like a young Robert DeNiro!).


zola Says:

MMT,

don’t the players show the new balls to their opponents? Soderling was not there when Rafa was going to serve. when he came back with his racket, Rafa showed him that he is serving with new balls.

I love to watch Rafa and I wish he was still playing. But I also appreciate Soderling’s tennis, especially that he did not fade away after beating Rafa. I am waiting to see how far he can go.

Again quoting JMac, he has always been a very powerful hitterbut has been out with injury a lot. He is 24 and regardless of his personality, he is playing great. It is not easy to like a guy when your first impression of him is from a mockery scene of your favorite player at a Wimbledon match, but perhaps by time we we get to know him better many of these issues might be history, particularly when he is playing such great tennis.


zola Says:

MMT
btw, thank you for explaining Toni’s words and saving it from being interpreted as something completely different from the original statement.
He never said Rafa lost because of the French crowd!
I think the matter was bnot cheering FOR the other player, but wanting Rafa to lose!

Anyway, this is all gossip tennis now! the real one starts in a few hours!


ferix Says:

Look … Soderling did something incredibly childish 2 years ago in Wimbledon … he got what he deserved by losing the fifth set there.

But what provoked him? It was Nadal, who took more and more time between points and disrupted Soderling’s rhythm. Nadal may claim it was unintentional – but from Soderling’s perspective, it was done in order to put him off his game. Soderling’s (poor) response is to mimic Nadal, hoping to put him off his game. It obviously didn’t work and he’s been paying for it since.

I think tennis fans are split 50/50 on whether Nadal’s time between points were intentional or unintentional. It was a lot worse in 2007 when he was hungry to win. Some like it, some clearly don’t. If they don’t like Nadal as a result or for whatever other reason, it is their entitlement. I don’t think those fans are being “stupid”.

Whilst watching Murray in the fourth set against Gonzo yesterday, my personal opinion was that if he slowed down the points on his serves, it may have caused Gonzo to tighten up and dump a few of those forehands into the net. Obviously it is not in Murray’s game to play like that – credit to him. This is why I like Murray and Federer and their approach to fair play, over Nadal and Djokovic.


ferix Says:

Here is a video of what happened in 2007:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwvgnYDTTQ0

Nadal was taking a long time between points, so long that Soderling walked off the court. Nadal responded angrily, and Soderling responded again by picking at his shorts.


Kimmi Says:

Ferix; LOL
Who would have thought soderling would come to this FO creating this magical tennis ?? Good on him, and I hope he continues this way now that he is found his form.


grendel Says:

When Soderling was interviewed on the so-called “Game,Set and Mats”, Annabelle Croft asked him about the wimbie incident with Nadal. Smiling pleasantly, Soderling replied he had been asked this question at least 200 times in the last couple of years. A discomfited Croft edged in, “well, you can talk about it again can’t you”, as Wilander moved in and decisively changed the topic. You don’t often get two presenters so blatantly at odds, and I looked at Croft with considerable curiosity as the interview proceeded. Oh, that expression! How I recognized it. The attempt to put a good face on things when you’re made a monkey of. How composed Soderling was, though. I don’t credit for one mini-second these tales of his unpopularity. All the moralising we see on the various players is just projection, special pleading and so on. I’ve done my share of this, but really, enough is enough.

Last year, Federer was overwhelming favourite against Monfils, and he just scraped through. This year, he’s a slight favourite. I think it’s fair to say he’s not playing as well as last year, whilst Monfils is probably quite a bit better. Pointing towards a Monfils win? It certainly won’t be a surprise. But then, nor would a Federer win be. In short, I personally have not the least idea who’ll win. I enormously enjoy Monfils as a player. Hope I enjoy him today and don’t succomb to sour grapes should events point in that direction…..


Shan Says:

Bookies have Monfils / Federer at +275 / -350. So Monfils is definitely considered the underdog for this one.


Voicemale1 Says:

Soderling’s demeanor comes at the advice of Mats Wilander, who coached him earlier. He told Soderling to show no respect to anyone, basically to “punk” guys, especially Nadal. He said to not let Nadal dictate anything – they delay at coin toss, the delay leaving the locker oom, etc. – i.e., disturb his rituals and his head as much as possible. And make all of them think you’re their equal or better, so as not to be intimidated by better players (it’s a tough sell in the locker room, because all those guys KNOW Soderling isn’t better than a lot of them). All this stems from Wilander’s own story, who showed up on the tour at 16 and was hugely terrified and intimidated by McEnroe, Connors, and a host of other punk types. His desire was to have Soderling not feel like he was losing matches before they walk out there.

In truth, Soderling did execute a strategy to perfection. But let’s remember, it was his first win over Nadal, in four maches and Nadal weeks earlier humiliated Soderling in Rome, 6-0, 6-1. It’s probably part of why Nadal was a little out of sorts in the match. Soderling’s plan was obvious: go for broke and try to hit a winner on almost every shot, serve huge both first & second, and avoid rallies at all costs (which is understandable because he lost most of the rally points). It’s not so much that Soderling has an impenetrable “game”, it’s more accurate to say he executed a winning strategy – especially when you look at the pounding he took in Rome. But like all strategies, they work best when you surprise people with something they don’t expect. If you keep doing the same one over & over, it’s not long before others start zeroing in on counter strategies.

As for Federer, there’s probably more pressure on him now than ever. And no matter if you’re a Federer KAD or not, looking at just his results up to this round, there’s plenty of cause to be concerned. In his run to the Final in 2006 & 2007, he’d played 1 4-Setter in six matches (in 2007, his lone four setter was to potential 2009 Semi foe Robredo; and in 2006 we have to discount the Semi he won on the default of Nalbandian which was on it’s way to 4 or 5 Sets). In 2008, he played three 4-Setters in his first six matches, and all of them were to guys ranked outside the Top 25. And this year it’s been worse still. Federer’s played four matches and three of them have already gone beyond three sets. And again to guys outside the Top 30 (#45 Acasuso, #35 Mathieu and #63 Haas). He has to work harder every year to go as deep as he did the year before.

Monfils faced Federer last year in the Semis here when ranked #81 and wasn’t mentally mature enough. He lost in the 4th Set 7-5 and could have easily taken it to a 5th. He’s a different guy this year. Now ranked #11 with some great results behind him, including two Top 10 scalps this year: Nadal and Roddick, he’s been playing some of the best looking tennis of the tournament. If you looked at just the results in previous rounds coming to this one, you’d say a guy with Federer’s matches would be in serious trouble against someone playing as well as Monfils. Looked at just as a set of stats, Mofils has enough game now to take Federer out.

Should Federer get through here, it’ll likely be another long match of 4 or 5 Sets. He’d be better off against Del Potro because his movement on clay is easier to exploit. Robredo is much more at home on clay, and did take a set from Federer in their 2007 French QF at 6-1 when Federer was playing better tennis than he is now. Either way, a Semi for Federer could well go another 4 or 5 Sets. But of any of his potential remaining matches, this one today against Monfils will be his toughest. Ironic, isn’t it? Federer’s longest and toughest road to a title here would be the one where he doesn’t have to face Nadal.


grendel Says:

I missed it, but the reports I have seen indicate that the Rome match between Soderling and Nadal was much closer than the score indicates. Nadal seems to have been quite sincere in positing Soderling as “dangerous”. Already, Soderling has proved something important in his demolition of Davydenko – that really was not in too many peoples’ scripts. Gonzalez is in the form of his life. One way or another,the semi will be a decisive test for Soderling, and perhaps for those of us trying to assess him, too.

Nothing will surprise me in what happens to Federer today and/or rest of week. Expect the unexpected. But then: what is the expected, what is the unexpected? Different views everywhere, I would surmise.


MMT Says:

Ferix said: “Nadal was taking a long time between points, so long that Soderling walked off the court. Nadal responded angrily, and Soderling responded again by picking at his shorts.”

Did you watch your own clip? Soderling did NOT walk off the court in response to Nadal taking a long time. He RAN to his chair, to get a new racquet for the new balls and RAN back to return serve.

And Zola, Nadal wasn’t indicating new balls honestly because Soderling already knew that – it’s why he changed his racquet, but he forgot to do it at the changeover. Also, he did it at the end of his service routine, when normally he (and every other player on tour) does it before their routine.

He was MOCKING Soderling, because he was offended that he dared to interrupt his byzantine service routine. There was no reason for Nadal to show him up as he did, to say nothing of the fact that it’s absurd for a guy who takes as much time as he does to serve to be offended when he is interrupted while doing so by an HONEST MISTAKE. Soderling mocked him right back, and basically Nadal got burned and didn’t like it, but he started the whole “altercation”.

My point is that Soderling is getting a bad rap for that incident, and I don’t think that’s fair to him. Maybe he doesn’t care, but all this talk about Soderling being a pain in the arse is unfounded as far as I’m concerned. Of course nobody’s perfect, and if we’re going to start labelling players a pain for all their imperfections, we can start with Nadal’s idiosyncracies.

But this all seems to based on this one incident, which as far as I can tell is entirely Nadal’s instigation, and frankly rather hypocritically so.


MMT Says:

Grendel, I saw the match with Soderling and Nadal, and the first set lasted almost an hour – pretty long for a 6-1 set, which means a lot of deuces, and yes it was closer than the score. The only difference between that match and the 4th round at RG was that Soderling missed when he went for kill shots and Nadal did in fact recover better and hit more winners of his own in Rome.


zola Says:

MMT,
ferix has the link up here. Just look.
Rafa is ready to serve. he looks up and Soderling is not there. He waits. Soderling comes. Rafa bounces the ball and then calls “new ball”.

I think we have different interpretations. But the facts are there.

and this is from Rome this year:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CnX6k0snxA

I don’t think there can be any misinterpretations here!

I don’t want to debate on Soderling’s personality. That’s why I didn’t give this link before. This is just to show you that he is not the victim!


MMT Says:

Zola: You really ought to consider a career as a defense attorney because your summary of the “facts” is worse than Ferix.

Rafa is ready to serve and Soderling is not there – he does not walk off the court because Nadal is taking too long – Soderling clearly CHANGES his racquet. So, Rafa also knows he knows it’s a change of balls, but he to show new balls after he’s been through his routine.

Why do you think everyone is laughing – because he was making fun of Soderling. You can’t handle the it, that Nadal mocked Soderling, but that’s as clear as day.

And as far as Rome goes, Rafa himself did the same in Miami – he circled the wrong mark but hot spot showed it was clearly in. That has absolutely nothing at all to do with Rafa showing up Soderling at Wimbledon.

You two really ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

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