Robin Soderling Interview - French Open, May 30

Posted on May 30, 2010

Robin Soderling Interview
French Open
Sunday, May 30, 2010

Q. The match with Cilic, many people, myself, we thought it would be a very close match, hard match that maybe you would end up winning. I would think you would end up winning. But it happened much faster. Unexpected score, probably. How did you feel about that? The second question is: Are you happy to face Federer again, although it's not in the final but it's in the quarters?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, I think first question I think you're always expecting a tough match, whoever you play against. Against Cilic, we never played before, but he's a great server. Against guys like him, it's almost always tough.
But I think the conditions were a little bit tough today. It was windy; it was cold; it was tough to really get in a rhythm. But I think what was the biggest difference between us is I think I served better than him. I had more first serves in, and I was able to dictate play with my forehand a little bit more.
Second one, well, I mean, it's a quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, and I have to play either one of the top four guys. Of course it's tough to play against Roger, but it's all tough matches. I hope for a good match. It's always fun to play against him.

Q. In Abu Dhabi when you won the exhibition, you said or at least you were quoted as saying that the more times you play him, the closer you get to him. I wondered if you could talk about what your best played match against him has been, and what you did right in that match that you might take into this one.
ROBIN SODERLING: We played so many times over so many years now, so it's tough to remember. But I remember a few times I played against him when I came pretty close, especially one in Halle a couple years ago when I served and returned really well.
I think that's what you have to do against him, because of course he's the best player in the world. But even against him you will always get a few chances. Then you have to take them, because he won't give you any second opportunities.
You really have to play well in the important points, which he does so well, and that's why he's so good.

Q. A year ago you came here No. 23 seed, I believe; now you're No. 5. Tell us what is so different from a year ago. Maybe part of that is tell us about Magnus Norman and what he has done to change you at all.
ROBIN SODERLING: I don't know if I changed. I think one year ago or two years ago I think I could play really good tennis. My had highest level then was pretty much the same as now, I think.
But of course I'm winning more matches, and I think I'm winning more matches when I'm not playing my best tennis, which I didn't do so often before. That's the biggest change.
Of course, Magnus helped me a lot with a lot of things on and off the court, so he's been really good for me.

Q. You've become more consistent. Is part of that Magnus?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, yeah. Him and also me. We work together as a team. I think we did a really good job. As I said, you know, I have many things to thank him for. He's been really helpful.

Q. I was wondering which would be a more satisfying victory for you, beating Nadal on clay or beating Federer.
ROBIN SODERLING: I don't know, you know. It depends which tournament, which round, whatever, you know.
They're both really tough players to beat. They're No. 1 and 2 in the world. Beating them, it's a great achievement, I think. I think you have to play your best tennis.
It's very difficult, but it's not impossible, which I showed and which many other players showed in the past.

Q. I think the clay court form before this tournament was maybe not the best. Have you been a little scared? And on the other hand, are you surprised now that it's going so well?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, no. I haven't really been scared. Of course I wanted to win more matches than I did, but I think I played in finals in Barcelona, first clay court tournament, and I end up losing in a tough three sets against Verdasco, which is not a bad tournament.
Then of course I had a bad week in Rome when I didn't play well at all. But, you know, it can happen to anyone. It can happen to, you know, Roger, Rafa, everyone. They cannot play their best tennis every week.
So it's been I think overall it's been pretty good, but I think of course I wanted to have some more matches before coming into this tournament. But now I played four really good matches, and I'm feeling good.

Q. If I understand you correctly, are you saying that basically the difference between last year and this year and maybe between a top 20 player and a top 3 or 4 player, 5 player, is that you learn how to win without playing at your best level, that is, knowing how to win without being at your top level?
ROBIN SODERLING: Yeah, I'd like to think so. If you look at all the top guys, they're not playing the best tennis every week. Maybe you have three or four, maybe five matches in a year where you feel like you play really, really well.
The other 50 matches you still have to win, and then all the top guys, they win a lot of matches against good players without playing the best tennis. I think that's the biggest difference between a guy ranked in the top 10 and the guy ranked in the top 30, 40.

Q. You've cracked that secret. Can you tell us how it's done? Can you give us just one example of knowing how to win when you're not...
ROBIN SODERLING: Of course, winning a lot of matches against good players gives you confidence. I think this year and also last year I won a lot of matches against really good players, so my confidence is good.
You know, in matches like this, it's very often it's a couple of points here and there which decides the match. And then the guy who has the best confidence wins the match and the points most of the time.

Q. Would you prefer quicker conditions for your next match?
ROBIN SODERLING: No, I haven't really thought about it, but I think it doesn't really matter. I think I can play well on both slow and faster surfaces and conditions. So, no, not really.

Q. You're not any more an outsider, but you're one of the top players. Does that add more confidence, or does that add more tension? Does it matter at all?
ROBIN SODERLING: No, I don't think about it that much, because, you know, doesn't matter if you're ranked 5 or 50 in the world. You still have to win the matches. On court it doesn't matter what your ranking is. You still have to win the matches. I think that's how you have to think.

Q. Has your life changed at all off the court since you've become a top 10 player?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, no, not that much. Of course, it's been a little bit more hectic. I do more stuff outside the court, but, you know, I try to I try to live the same life.
You know, I think it's pretty similar. I still do the same things every day.

Q. You're not bothered on the street or when you're eating at a restaurant?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, of course, that, but it doesn't bother me that much. I always wanted to be where I am now, and I know that's the sort of things that comes with it. I have to accept it, whether I like it or not.

Q. Just to clarify just in the end on that one point, so a year ago were you somebody who, for example, when you lost those key points, would get down? And are you now a person who, when you lose those key points, you still retain your confidence and keep your energy up? Is that a difference?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, at least I try to. Sometimes it works, and sometimes not.
But, again, as I said, I think I could still play as good one or two years ago as I can do now, but it's you know, it's when I'm not playing when I'm not playing my best tennis, that has changed when I'm winning more matches now.