No Joke, Robin Soderling Overpowers Roger Federer at French Open, Snapping Semifinal Streak
by Sean Randall | June 1st, 2010, 3:12 pm

It’s over. Roger Federer’s remarkable 23-Slam semifinal streak came to a crashing end today courtesy of the boogie man, Robin Soderling. For the second straight year the tempestuous pulled off a major upset at the French Open. ADHEREL


Last year Soderling halted Rafael Nadal’s 31-match clay win streak. Today, lightning struck again as the Robin rocked a tournament favorite, this time Federer beating the Swiss 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in the French Open quarterfinals.

“Hey, of course it’s nice to beat the world No. 1 two years in a row on the center court,” Soderling said. “I think both times I play really good tennis. I think it’s a great feeling.”

In wet conditions Soderling found himself down a set early and staring at his 13th straight loss to the Swiss. But Robin regrouped and blitzed Federer with a flurry of heavy winners and big serving, keeping Federer off balance to take the second and push to 5-5 in the third when an hour rain delay stopped the action.

When play resumed Federer fell apart, unfortunately at the wrong time. Soderling quickly broke and wrapped up the third. Finding himself a set up, Soderling didn’t flinch and continued to pound away at Federer.

At 4-4 Soderling earned the final break, and when a forehand service return sailed long the match went to Soderling.

Soderling added, “Of course he had some chances in the second set. First set he played well. I didn’t serve so well. Then in the second it was tough for me, and I saved a couple of really important points. So I think when I won the second set, which was very big for me, I really felt that I could relax a little bit. After that, I think I start today play better and better.”

That’s two straight years Robin has beaten the World No. 1 and defending champion in Paris (and he’s beaten Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in Slam play!). And now for Federer there is serious doubt on “the when” he’ll pass Pete Sampras for total weeks at No. 1.

Watching the match I thought Robin played even better than he did last year in his win over Rafa. Federer looked good, too, but simply couldn’t match the Swede’s power and aggressiveness. And Soderling surprisingly kept it together mentally when it mattered.

Soderling now sets up a semifinal against Tomas Berdych with a rematch with Nadal looming. The big-hitting Berdych swatted Mikhail Youhzny 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 to reach his first career Grand Slam semifinal. Berdych has not lost a single set in five matches and is looking mighty dangerous.

Berdych and Soderling will play their semifinal on Friday, so each player should be plenty rested.

As for the women, Elena Dementieva dropped the first set to Nadia Petrova but recovered to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. She’ll now play Francesca Schiavone who became the first Italian women to reach a Slam semifinal after beating Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-3.

You Might Like:
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155 Comments for No Joke, Robin Soderling Overpowers Roger Federer at French Open, Snapping Semifinal Streak

andrea Says:

wow. berdych and soderling should be interesting. they are both huge hitters.

craziness reigns!

Gregoire Gentil Says:

Sad day for Roger’s fans.

PietjeP Says:

Well, Robin won fair and square. Congrats to him! He sure as hell played good. Federer played good, but once he got overpowered he should have tried something different. He just got blown off the court sometimes, just like in his match vs Delpo in last year’s USO final.

I for one, am very much looking forward to a possible rematch between Sod and Nadal.

BTW, what a strange game at 5-4 in the 3rd set…. and what a point to save the set, and then go on to win the match! Unbelievable!

TGiT Says:

Well, I recall Roger saying it would be the French Open that would really determine who is playing well on clay. Hmmmm…..

I love the Fed but he is a little too glib about playing well in small tournys.

The Berd/Sod semi is going to be awesome!!

jane Says:

The Berdych versus Soderling semifinal could be a classic – or a blow out. Looking at their H2H, they are close, 4-3 for Soda. But the matches themselves have often been lopsided. Based on their two press conferences, Soderling definitely sounds like the more confident of the two, and no wonder: he’s been in this situation before. Berdych, by contrast, has never been in a grand slam semi-final. Should (or could) be a good one.

Fot Says:

I saw Roger’s interview on ESPN2. He’s very straightforward about the loss. Gave Robin a lot of credit for playing great and for winning. On the streak ending – he said “well, at least I still have the 24 straight QF appearances” – then laughter in the room.

He said the conditions were very hard with the heavy rain, but it was the same for both players. He thought Robin was stronger in that he could hit through the heavy conditions better than he could but said he gives credit to Robin for keeping it up.

He didn’t seem ’sad’ but just ‘reflective’. They asked if he thought Soderling could win the tournament – he said “sure, why not?”!

Then the French questions came and he said something and they all laughed (I don’t understand French). Then ESPN cut away from it. Guess I’ll have to wait until the interview is out to see what he said.

Fot Says:

1 June 2010



3‑6, 6‑3, 7‑5, 6‑4

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Two hours after the match, tell me something about the emotions. You must be very disappointed.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, disappointed to a certain degree. You know, I don’t think I played a bad match, so it’s easier to go out this way, I think.

Conditions obviously were on the rougher side for both of us, and I thought he came up with some great tennis.

You know, it’s a touch easier to digest this way.

Q. In any case, before the stop you had a set point, so it could have been another story, or he started playing flat?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, best‑of‑five‑set matches you always get chances, and I definitely had those at, what was it, 5‑4, Love‑30? I mean, he missed a forehand that was close to go up at Love‑30, and then he had a forehand that just touches the line a little bit to go maybe Love‑40 instead of, you know, 15‑30. So that’s obviously a big change.

The backhand smash he hit he catches with the frame a little bit, you know. I mean, that was kind of a hard shot to hit, I thought. That kind of shot from my side with the smash and stuff is very unusual.

So hit it well, you know. But he played aggressive and kept on coming. When the conditions got more heavy when we came back from the rain delay, he played well, you know.

That was a tough set for me to lose after having those chances and being up 40‑15 on my serve when I came back.

Q. You have, of course, the great semifinal streak that is now broken. What does that mean to you? Obviously all good things come to an end at some point.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, like you say, they all come to an end at some stage. You hope they don’t happen, but they do.

No, I mean, it was a great run. Now I’ve got the quarterfinal streak going, I guess. (laughter.)

No, I mean, it’s been an amazing run. I think it sort of started here when I lost to Kuerten back in ’04, I guess it is. If then I could have signed for all those semis in a row, I would have done it right away.

I’ve made, how you say, incredible progress in terms of my play at the highest of level to be able to always come back and play semis after semis after semis in Slams and give myself chances to win in Slams. I was able to win many of them.

I was proud to have that streak, and it’s probably one of the greatest ones I have in my, you know, history books, really, for me.

Q. Secondly, the difference between the Robin you saw last year here and today, was it significant?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think conditions were even harder today. I mean, I think last year’s match was difficult for both of us. You know, I had a good start again today, which was the case as well last year.

You know, I mean, at times I guess I could have played a bit better. He served well. I didn’t take my chances early on in the second set. And then in the third set as well.

So I just missed too many chances today, which I didn’t do last year, and I was able to run away with it. Today I couldn’t do that.

Q. You were 12‑0 against him. What did he do today that really bothered you on the court?

ROGER FEDERER: He played really well, you know, for almost an entire match, really.

I’m not blaming the conditions or anything, but I think they were in his favor towards the end. Because, I mean, these were some serious, tough conditions, you know. If you serve 225, 230, you can still hit through the court on the serve.

I may be lacking those 5 to 10ks extra on the serve to hit through a guy on the serve, but that’s the way conditions are. I can’t complain, because it was the same for both of us.

But of course I’m disappointed to having sort of lost three matches in the rain on clay this season: in Estoril, in Rome, and now here again.

So I just couldn’t come up with the plays when I had to today.

Q. Did you have any feeling going into today’s match that you might not win?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I respect everyone, but I’m always, how do you say? I’m honest enough to myself that I know I can win them all. I felt confident going into the match knowing that if I play well, if I play solid, I’d probably win this match.

Q. Once you got in the rallies, do you think the lower bounce because of the heavier conditions favored him over you?

ROGER FEDERER: Look, I don’t mind slow clay. When it gets rainy, it’s tough, you know. Not only for me, but for the opponent too, usually. It’s not a lot of fun for the fans either, and for us, the players, it’s hard, you know, because you never know when it’s gonna be interrupted.

You know, your mind starts wandering. It was tough conditions. I guess today they favored him, but I really felt like he played great. He was able to hit consistently through the ball, and on the offensive I put them close to the lines. That’s something, you know, that was impressive.

Q. As you look inside yourself, what is worse for you: having been beaten in quarterfinals and have no chance to win another Grand Slam title, or let the chance open to lose the No. 1?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, you just take the defeat as it is. You don’t think of the consequences. I guess most disappointed I am that I can’t defend my title here. I really felt like my tennis was good enough to come here and do it again, but that was not the case today.

So it’s more the disappointment in having maybe not delivered my very best performance today, conditions and opponents didn’t allow me to.

And, yeah, then you move on. You know, you move on to the grass and forget a little bit.

Q. Do you think that Robin can go all the way this year?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, once you’re in the semifinals, there’s four players that can go all the way. Counts for him too; he was in the finals here last year.

If he makes the finals again, he’ll feel more comfortable, you know, in that kind of a situation, a position. Maybe he’ll play a better final. Who knows?

But he definitely has a chance, yeah.

Q. You had obviously, you know, a great turnaround in Australia and then the break. I’m just wondering if you ever felt you had your A clay game on this spring? Were there times when you felt you had it, or did you always feel like you were sort of searching for it throughout the spring?

ROGER FEDERER: I felt like I found my game when I arrived in Madrid, really. Felt like my game was good enough again. That’s why I was very happy with my play over there. I was very happy with my play here this week.

You can’t really practice with these kind of conditions. You just take them the way they come, you know. That’s why it’s disappointing.

And honestly, I don’t look too deep into why I lost today. For me, it’s very clear very quickly. That’s why I think I can move away from this rather fast and concentrate on the grass season coming up.

THE MODERATOR: French questions, please.

Q. Have you ever played such a big hitter as Soderling today?


Q. Who?

ROGER FEDERER: Del Potro. You’ve forgotten him because he’s injured.

Q. What’s the feeling when you have such a powerful ball in your racquet?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it can be pleasant and unpleasant because you have less to do and you can’t play your game, you can’t impose your game.

As for me, I’m strong on both sides if I have to attack and if I have to defend and take the speed of the other player. That’s why I had such a good record against him.

So not too much of a problem for me, but today he played very well. He was impressive.

Q. Would the conditions prevent you from varying your shots as much as you would have liked to?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, slightly. But then I did what I wanted to do. I just missed some opportunities at the end of the second set, beginning of the third. The rain was not very helpful.

I was one break up in the fourth, and, well, I lost three sets; this is what I did. That’s why it’s frustrating leaving the tournament like that.

But at the end of the day, he needs to take credit. He played incredibly well from the beginning to the end and in very difficult conditions.

So it’s a bit of a shame. The conditions were what they were, but he deserves it. He played very well.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

R. Federer – 01.06.10


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dangerouspaul Says:

at least he can refocus and be ready for wimbledon were he never struggled to get to the finals because it’s the place where his amazing talent is worth double not to say triple..fed is gonna be fine. he will be back and he is still the man to beat. at every slam. mark my words . he is far from over. but it is good that a cool guy and contender like soederling did the crossing fingers he can keep up the momentum..

Dari Says:

If I adopt federer’s attitude about his losses, all will be fine! i think the good thing we can say here is that Federer did NOT play a bad match!
Soderling played a great one.
I love berdych, but I would like for the person who took down fed to go all the way. If fed loses big matches, i’m happy when NEW blood wins. Like the delpo uso match. THere wasn’t anyone i would be happier for him to lose to!
Best of luck, Robin.
ANd looking forward to wimbledon!
PS, love that Roger has a sense of humor, QF streak! ha!

sheila Says:

hope roger bounces back at wimbledon. hope soderling takes the french open and hope that roger gets his #1 ranking back @ least to break sampras’ record. if ya gotta break records y not break all of them. didn’t finish watching the match although it is on my dvr player, but i have a hard time watching matches that federer loses. i knew when he lost the 3rd it was touch & go. some bigger hitters coming up the ranks, soderling, berdych, delpo, gulbis, cilic. will be interesting 2c how djokovic & nadal handle those guys. anyway, im soooooo hoping roger can win wimbledon @ least.

Ty Says:

This has to be one of Federer’s (since he became “The” Federer) only matches in which he played at such a high level and was just thoroughly outplayed. I watched most of this match and noticed that for the most part Roger played really well, I just think Soda was redlining it and it was paying off. So congrats to the big awkward Swede… I hope he wins the tournament or at least has a showdown with Rafa in the final. Would love to see a rematch between the two with more on the line this time. I don’t think those two like each other.

SG Says:

I have to admit that I’m surprised by the result. Yes, Soderling can power the ball around the court but so can a lot of other guys that Federer routinely handles.

I guess it’s just a matter of probability, a numbers game. Sooner or later, the semi-final streak was going to end. Fed’s semi-final streak is a record that won’t be broken for a long, long time.

While I expected Fed in the final, I didn’t expect him to win the tournament. I still believe this is Rafa’s tournament to lose.

As for Fed, he had a decent tournament. Fed’s two best slams are coming up and I think he’ll probably win at least one of them, if not both. I wouldn’t judge Fed as on the slide until he bobbles at Wimbledon.

Veno Says:

Congrats to Sod, and for Fed it’s on to Wimby. All is fine, he played a good tournament.

Sod deservedly won and that’s good to see. If he plays like this, there is no way any of the remaining can stop him, not even Nadal. The sheer power on the serve and his groundies, not to mention how many times he painted the lines was impressive!!! If he hits it like that he’ll hammer Rafa’s serve, especially the second serve. Even 208 kph first serves of Fed he returned withing inches of the baseline. From there it was an uphill battle for Fed to get out under the relentless power of the Sod. Gotta respect that! The third and fourth sets were the best clean hitting sets off both wings I have ever witnessed someone play. Good of Fed that he gives Sod his props!!! Fed is class all the way!!!!

Veno Says:


In the tough conditions today, Sod was still able to hit through the court and he putts so much on the ball that Fed wasn’t able to use all that force to redirect it in his return strokes, which he usually does against the big hitters. You could see how much power he had to absorve on his racquet from those heavy balls. And because he lacks the pure power to hit through the court and through an opponent Sod had more time to wind up his back swings to unleash those hammers. If it were hot and dry and they both played their respective levels, I think Fed would have won.
But that’s irrelevant, Sod deservedly won today!

Veno Says:

absorv m/b absorb

TGiT Says:

I think for sure this clay season you can mark down that Fed does not play well in the rain and mud. He can’t move or slide like he is use to and in his interview the big note was Fed admitting his serve is 10 mph too slow to push through the wet conditions. Clearly this is where the bigger players will beat him.

osazone4real Says:

and the french open curse continues, No 1 player in the world cant win it

Fot Says:

I’m sure it’ll probably happen anyway…but didn’t they say Roger would lose #1 ONLY if Nadal wins the French? My understanding is that if Nadal loses in the SF (unlikely) or Fianl (highly unlikely)…then Roger still retains #1? If that is the case…then nothing against Nadal but – Go other players! lol!

jane Says:

This is what amazed me about Soda today; his incredible ability to stay calm, cool and collected:

“Q. Each time when you tried to challenge the call and you’ve been booed badly, how can you manage to stay focused? You just shut all the noise outside of your game? How can you manage that?

ROBIN SODERLING: It’s not really difficult. I don’t really care, you know. I play for myself and I play for the win, not for the crowd.”

Good for him! Definitely other players could take a page from this book and benefit.

Hi Veno – haven’t seen you round here for awhile. Hope all is well!

Veno Says:

Last three players to do so: Guga(2001), Courier(1992) and Lendl(1987 and 1986)

Kimmi Says:

Ofcourse sad for federer but very happy for soderling

thanks Fot. i like federer interview. all credit to soda. the giant killer indeed. I hope he beats berdych and go to the final.

i wonder what is the weather like in the next few days..definetly if it rains it will suits him, but so is berdych in the semi. We will see.

Veno Says:


That is correct, Nadal will have to win the title in order to take over #1 come Monday, which will leave Fed at 285…..1 short of Pete’s record….And with Wimby coming up….it will be difficult to stay close to Raf, because Fed will have to defend 2000 W points and Rafa can only add points….

jane Says:

Hey Kimmi, sorry about your guy’s loss today. Soda was popping. The forecast looks like rain again for tomorrow with sun coming and the potential of rain again on the final Sunday.

Veno Says:

Hi Jane, all is well. Thanks!

Sad that Fed lost, but credit to Sod!!! Hope he wins it all. Would be good for tennis. He’ll also become #4 and break up the Fed-Rafa-Djoko-Murray reign(discounting DelPo because of his unfortunate injury and the fact he only was 4th a very short time)

Everybody’s saying Nadal will win and although he remains the favourite, also to me, it’s not going to be easy for him.
Almagro will take 1 set, if he’s playing lights out(all those Spanish players already lose to Rafa before a ball is hit, that’s why Sod’s fearless mindset concerning playing Rafa or Fed is so impressive)

But Novak Djokovic, if he gets focussed can make it tough for Nadal. Novak has matured(good to see!!!) and hasn’t peaked yet at this tourney but still goes through the draw easily. I just hope that Novak’s learns to understand that his body language has to be more positive. He needs to learn to control his emotions(Andy Murray has the same problem) He can’t show weakness to Rafa or he’ll make him pay for it. Even if he feels like he messed up a play or a shot, he should keep his frustration inside and move on and unleash it positively after making a great play!

That’s what Rafa and Fed are so good at!!! They only shout/pump fists at good timed moments and for the rest keep a straight face and keep disciplined. So Novak, no shrugging and looking up at the sky and yell out loud how bad you messed up a shot….it doesn’t work.

And if Rafa beats Novak, then he’s up against Sod or Berdych. He better hope it’s Berdych, because he’ll have a lot bigger chance against him than against Sod. If Sod plays anywhere close to the level he played today, he’ll straight set Rafa(sorry Rafa fans) to take the title.

Kimmi Says:

Hi jane..thanks. I was more worried about berdy but soda did it…what do i know ?

thanks for the weather link. I don’t think tomorrow rain will cause any upsets but if novak goes to the semi, he wants rain rain rain..and the weather shows no rain. It might help in with nadal..but again what do I know ? :)

I really hope djoko can do something spectacular here

skeezerweezer Says:


Thanks for interview. As usual Fed, a class act.


re: weather

That will be good for Soda? :)

Kimmi Says:

” It might help in with nadal” meant to say, it might help djoko more against nadal if it rains. Nadal wants the sun because his topspin will kick the ball up, that make it hard for most player to attack.

Did it rain last year when nadal lost to soda ? just wondering..

Dan Martin Says:

I do think if conditions stay heavy the winner of the Soderling – Berdych match will have a real shot at the title. Nadal and Novak ought to get to the semis, but I will wait and see. I still see Rafa as the favorite, but these conditions that started so fast when the first ball was struck have gotten heavy. Big strong power guys might like a ball that sits up and a court that only they can hit through so Sod and Berdych hope the weather remains spotty I am sure.

Dan Martin Says:

Congrats to Robin as well. He has played like a top 10 guy for the past 52 weeks and the past two French opens he’s been awesome.

Von Says:

I posted this link on the other thread — didn’t know there was a new one — sorry for the duplication.

Here’s Wertheim’s take on fed’s loss and what it will mean to him.

Von Says:

Dan: The below thread is for your readikng pleasure, well maybe not so in this case. Anyway, enjoy the read.

Zola Says:

FoT, Kimmi and other Fed fans here, ..sorry for his loss today. He played well, but Soderling played very aggressively and it paid off for him. He had huge serves and forehands. Going for broke on each point. A mix of Delpotro and Gonzo.

Incredible record for Soderling the streak breaker! Taking down the world number one and the defending champion two years in a row!Who wants him in his quarter in Wimbledon?

Federer’s streak of 23 semifinals in GSs is going to stay for a long while. Considering that the one after is just 10 ( I think Lendl).That is a fascinating record.

Well, what does it mean for Rafa? It means he needs to win Almagro, then possibly Djokovic and then Possibly the Giant Killer. By no means an easy task. Almagro took a set off Rafa in Madrid and with the damp conditions, the ball will not bounce very high in RG, which might help Almagro. Hopefully there will not be another upset tomorrow!

The WTA QF matches were interesting as well. I don’t know what happened to Petrova to lose that bad.but I am happy for Dimentieva. I like Wozniacki but Shiavone just outplayed Wozniacki and it is fun to see an underdog win a match.

My favorite : Stosur! Let’s see what she can do tomorrow.

Zola Says:

and the french open curse continues, No 1 player in the world cant win it

That is so true! When was the last time the world number one won the FO title?

Zola Says:


Thanks for the link. It is a good one.

sar Says:

Fed gave an excellent and gracious interview. Soderling giveth and taketh away. Last year he helped Fed win by taking out Nadal. I don’t know who is going to win now.

Von Says:

Zola: Hello to you. It’s nice to see you back posting here again.

You’re welcome on the link!

Veno Says:


Veno Says:

Last three players to do so: Guga(2001), Courier(1992) and Lendl(1987 and 1986)

June 1st, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Hey Von, has been a while. everything going well?
Good link, I like Wertheim’s views, most of the time

Kimmi Says:

Zola, thanks. great time for tennis..unpredictability. love it. (though sad for federer.)

But I still think it is still predictable rafa to win.

jane Says:

sar, it’s true – Fed gave all due credit to Soda and also made the comparison between Robin and Delpo’s power that others had made here during the match.

Von Says:

Veno: Nice to see yolu weighing in with your insightful views on the FO as it now stands.

Yes, all’s fine, well, as good as it gets, anyway. LOL. And, thanks for asking.

How about you? I hope all’s well in the land of the windmills, even every *thing* et al.

Seth Says:

Congratulations to Soderling, he played tremendous tennis in the last three sets. Post Australian Open, Fed has looked as if he’s not so much playing to win as he is playing to not lose. That’s the big difference I’ve seen in him lately. The fire just may not be burning as brightly these past two or three months.

Fot Says:

Hey Zola! Thanks. On to tomorrow’s matches and “Go Serena” for me.

Veno Says:

Good to hear all is well with you Von.

And thanks. Everything is well here, with the windmills and every thing and all.

Yes, it has been a long time since I posted on tennis blogs.

But I have to say, it’s nice to post a little again, especially as this is turning out to be quite the tournament.

Anna Says:

Berdych has been playing some awesome tennis this year and took out Soderling not to many weeks ago in Miami, 6-2 – 6-2. I think their styles are similar but Tomas appears to move better around the court. This match will not be a cakewalk for Soderling.

Zola Says:

nice to see you too. Sorry about Roddick’s loss. I think the conditions are really tough this year. The balls are really wet and heavy and muddy. Hopefully Wimbledon will be better. At least there is a roof now.

Kimmi Says:

Zola, I agree about schiavoni playing great today. She has so much craft on the court, this is the best i ever seen her play and these conditions seem to suit her well. I think she could win demantieva if she plays like this..

I read somewhere that petrova was injured..

Veno Says:


No it won’t, however, got to give Sod a big edge: 1)the confidence factor(playing so well and knowing he can beat Nadal and Federer)
2)the experience factor: Sod has been here before, T-Bird has not.

It won’t be a walk over, but I can’t see T-Bird beat this Soderling….

Von Says:

Veno: Well, I’m glad to see you posting again, if only for the FO. Who would have thought that the tournament would have taken such a detour? I never envisioned Fed Fed losing so early, but that’s the way the cookie cruumbles sometimes, isn’t it? Veno, Hope to see you around some molre, and I’ll catch ya later…

Von Says:

Zola: Thanks re Roddick’s loss, but let’s be realistic, he was so match deprived that it would have needed a miracle for him to get to the second week. I think if he didn’t have such a tough two early rounds, which was too much too soon, maybe his legs would have held up better. Anyway, I’m hoping for better things at Wimby.

BTW, good luck to Rafa for a spot in the finals come Sunday.

Zola Says:

You are right. 10 for Guga and Courier and 8 for Lendl. right? Then comes 23 for Federer! wow!

I know Serena is the favorite and she has a great chance. I just like Stosur a lot. btw, Serena’s outfit has the same colors as Rafas!

I hope it remains unpredictable for Rafa, but who knows? he said it himself, that he was the faorite last year and he lost. This year it is not easy. I think Soderling has some experience now and is more confident. Not to mention Almagro and Djoko. Looong way to go for Rafa.

I think Federer is still there to win. He just was not able to have the perfect preparation for the FO and then he had Soderling in his QF. I think his motivation was to play Rafa in the FO final.

Kimmi Says:

Ofcourse a loss is a loss no excuses but If i remember correctly that soda loss to berdy in miami, soda had some kind of a problem with knee.. he then pulled out of montecarlo the following week to recover.

Veno Says:


I was referring to the last 3 players to win the French Open while being world number 1 ;-)

As for the Semi-streak: It’s Fed with 23 consecutive followed by Laver and Lendl with 10:
Fed: W 2004 through AO 2010
Laver: W 1960 through UO 1962
Lendl: UO 1985 through AO 1988(AO 1987 not held and in ’86 it was played after the UO 1986)

Veno Says:

UO 1986 m/b 1985

dangerouspaul Says:

yeah i am so happy that in wimby theres not gonna be rain bothering fed hahaha..wimbledon is federers living room.
imagine roddick, murray and soederling in either nadal’s or federer’s site of the draw. i believe it would be easier for fed to handle..what do you think guys?

Zola Says:


Thanks a lot. You are a tennis encyclopedia!

So the last No 1 to win the French Open was Guga in 2001!

and the people with the longest SF streak after Roger are Lendl and Laver with 10!

again, wow!

Veno Says:

Fed is going to be a huge favourite at Wimby.
Even a bigger favourite than Nadal at this year’s French

Veno Says:

yw Zola,

correct on both counts ;-)

Zola Says:


I do not want Soderling in Rafa’s half in Wimbledon! nowhere near him!

Veno Says:


I seriously doubt if Fed’s 23 consecutive semi’s will ever be broken.

Just try and put your head around it….It’s right up there for the best streaks in sporting history.
Especially considering how competitive and global tennis is right now. It’s a ridiculous achievement. Absolutely ludicrous

Dan Martin Says:

Von, I think Wertheim is a bit too dramatic in saying it seems like 09 did not happen. I bet at Wimbledon 5 or 6 players will have a decent shot at the title and even if Nadal is the favorite going into Wimbledon it is nothing like his status as favorite in Paris. As for Roger, he will probably play Halle and he seems to have a good shot at Wimbledon (among the top half of the 5 or 6 true threats). He lost in the quarters to a guy ranked #6 in the world. I don’t think he is toast. I do think he has declined some and really most players in 2010 have been off the mark of what one could have hoped. Murray never seems to have recovered from Australia. Novak could shut a lot of mouths, but his pre-Paris results had been puzzling. Roddick looked great and then basically went on a clay court leave of absence. Davydenko and JMDP are hurt. I am glad Rafa has been a consistent threat in every event he has entered in 2010 because he is the only top guy who has been particularly consistent in 2010. He deserves to be #1 if he wins this event. Tennis needs a #1 who can be strong year round. I think age and especially parenthood have Roger aiming to peak at certain times of the year rather than being the top dog year round. Roger and Murray both had a hang over from Oz. I think the runner-up in Madrid and quarters in Paris get Roger out of his IW-Miami-Rome-Estoril form, but he is not where he would like to be. Halle and Wimbledon could turn that for him, but that is another topic. The 6 guys left in the draw deserve the attention at present.

Thaidiamond Says:

Nostradamus lives…

It was foreseen here…the giant slewing the star…with Kimmi as witness:

Kimmi Says:

Zola – lol you don’t want soda on rafa half at wimbledon. normally with me if I don’t want murray on federer half he is always there..I hope it works with you. :)

Kimmi Says:

Yap, lol you predicted right thaidiamond. Now can you predict who will win french open?

Veno Says:

I’d have to go with Soderling to win it this year.

And Rafa a favourite at Wimbledon? Not in my book.
He has only been imperious on clay since his return.

Let’s see how he does on grass in Queens in 2 weeks, there’s a class field starting there and he hasn’t played a match on grass for almost 2 years.

Only if he wins Queens convincingly I will regard him as a top favourite after Fed on par with Andy Roddick, providing he has a good tune up to Wimby too.

sonic Says:

It’s a happy day for Fed fans…noone of us wanted to see him getting killed by Nadal in the final yet again, not to mention worsening the h2h even further. So well done Robin. Fed gets extra grass preparation and will finaly play Halle again. A victory in a small tournament will do him a lot more good than a defeat in FO final.

For tennis fan prespective, it will be nice to see Federer fight for no1 to get the record. He’ll have to play the fall season with full strenght, and he didn’t do that in years. It should be interesting.

I’m happy for Soda, but hard to see him actualy beating Nadal again. A set maybe, certaily a much better showing than Federer could have managed, but beating a fit Nadal? I don’t think so…maybe if he gets rainy conditions in the final, but even that is a streach of imagination.

Still, he is the only play capable of beating Nadal in Paris since Del Potro is not here, so lets hope he makes it past Berdych.

One thing is for certain, Nadal is not a happy man right now.

Thaidiamond Says:

In the City of Lights there will be a great thunder,
From the sky will come a crownless King of Clay.
A slayer from the farest north will leap up,
The greater part of the battlefield will be against former glory

My interpretation of this ‘revealed’ ancient text is…Nadal will reclaim a lost crown.

Kimmi Says:

Thaidiamond – so you think nadal will win..well, i will come back next sunday and see if you are right again. Good luck!

Polo Says:

Thaidiamond, I am very curious. Where did you get this “ancient” text? Who wrote that? I like it.

Thaidiamond Says:

My dear Polo…some things can not be revealed…only initiated.

But grasshopper, I can say this what suddenly appears after staring for the longest periods into a large stagnant bowl of water.

Andrew Miller Says:

Wow, Soderling or Berdych could win the whole shooting match!

No more predictions from me. I penned Federer to the title, so “i’m out.”

Polo Says:

Thanks Thaidiamond. I have always loved riddles since I saw Star Wars. I will look for these revelations and try to interpret them. Of course, my interpretations will be biased towards what I want to happen.

Tanya_Harding Says:

They should just hand the trophy over to Nadal now. No way can anyone beat him. Roger was our only hope. Soderling won’t suprise him again. Djokovic double faults too much and has breathing problems. Forget Melzer, Almagro, and Berdych. They are afraid of Rafa on clay.

This was a sad sad day in tennis history. The ratings for the French Open final will be at an all time low no matter who faces Nadal in the final. Soderling should have let Federer win for the good of the sport. He is very selfish.

blank Says:

Semifinal match-up: Melzer Vs Almagro!

Wonder what will happen if that comes true!?

Kimo Says:

Great presser from Roger. Very humble and very realistic. He gave Soderling his due. He’s not feeling deep sorrow. He won’t lose sleep over it. Good for him.

I love this part:

“Q. Have you ever played such a big hitter as Soderling today?


Q. Who?

ROGER FEDERER: Del Potro. You’ve forgotten him because he’s injured.”

Very true Roger. I mean, watching the match today, you couldn’t help but see the parallels this match had to the US Open final. The first set went through in a flash. Then, Roger slacks and his opponent cleans up his game. He makes Roger scramble for shots, a position Roger find very annoying and comfortable. Delpo did to Roger then what Soderling did to Roger today.

Kimo Says:

I’m for The Sod. Soda for the win!!!

Polo Says:

I also like Federer’s interview. I am glad that he is not devastated by the loss. He sounded like a happy man who has achieved a sense of equanamity in his life and views events in their proper perspective. I feel so much better now in spite of his loss.

Kimo Says:

Polo, I’ve said after Fed won at RG last year, completing the career slam and tying himself with Pete, that even if Fed doesn’t win another slam, I’m satisfied by what he has done. I said that to me his wins from that point will only taste sweeter and his losses won’t hurt as much.

Since then he won a couple of more slams and regained his no.1 ranking. You just can’t ask for anything more than that :)

tennislover Says:

The weather has become too big a factor at the French Open this year. These rough conditions have neutralized many players’ advantages especially of those players who do not have big, flat ground strokes. These wet,muddy and heavy conditions did a lot of very good players in. Players who have run into big, flat hitters like Berdych and Soderling in these conditions will be ruing their misfortune. Djokovic and especially Nadal are very lucky that they didn’t play either of these two in these conditions and this kind of form.

Whoever reaches the final from the bottom half(Nadal remains the big favorite) will be praying for drier conditions in the final. If conditions remain what they were today, it will not be easy for anyone to stop Berdych or Soderling in the final if they sustain this kind of form and do not get overawed by the occasion. These conditions suit their big,flat hitting so well that it is almost unfair especially to players who just can’t hit through the court and rely on their other skills and variety to subdue power hitters. Federer showed in the first set all those skills which have helped him win 12 matches against Soderling. The key is to just keep Soderling off-balance and take time away from him and a certain minimum amount of pace on the strokes is crucial for that. In drier conditions,he could generate the pace sufficient enough to attain that goal. The moment he lost his pace on his strokes due to the conditions coming increasingly into play, his shots became sitting ducks. Soderling got a fraction of a second extra to line up his shots. Once a player starts taking huge cuts at the ball from a good balanced position, it becomes very difficult for his opponent as the probability of extracting errors goes down. Federer just doesn’t have the power and strength to hit those wet and heavy balls big and flat. He could not trust even his slice or drop shots anymore as the conditions got heavier…………One just can’t help getting the feeling that the conditions had a big impact on the proceedings.

However, it is to Soderling’s huge credit that he executed so well for so long and did not falter mentally at all.

ron Says:

I’m surprised none of the Fed-heads here excused his loss today due to the mono he had like 2 years ago. Usually you always trot that old thing out when confronted with reality.

Polo Says:

Ron, why should we, your so-called Fed-heads use Federer’s mono from two years ago as an excuse? I feel sorry for you and your ignorance. The symptoms of mononucleosis do not last for two years. You could have at least googled that. Better a Fed-head than an egghead, like you.

zinaldo Says:

It is pretty clear for me that roger struggles big time moving to his right but his stubbornness made him play a game of big forehand to big forehand against a player who hits the ball a lot harder than ,as if roger wanted to show he could overpower him and like against del potro he lost.

Roger should have mixed the play up a bit changed his returning style and brought the drop shot into play a lot more,another thing he now seems so passive on break points as if he actually waits for his opponents to make mistake instead of being the one to force the breaks.

But most importantly players now believe and to me that really throws off roger because soon as you stand up to him like rafa did when he came about he doesn’t know how to answer as he has never needed to fight especially mentally as his game was always enough.

tennislover Says:

“I also like Federer’s interview. I am glad that he is not devastated by the loss. He sounded like a happy man who has achieved a sense of equanamity in his life and views events in their proper perspective. I feel so much better now in spite of his loss.”

That is not good news for those tennis fans who still expect him to be a major force for a few more years. He himself says that he wants to feel the pressure because that means he still cares for the game. Motivation is going to be his biggest problem going forward. If he doesn’t get hurt or angry at his big losses, it is in many ways not a good sign. He did not sound too hurt after that USO final loss to Del Potro either. The hunger and desire to stay at the top definitely is not as intense as it used to be. His results after the USO probably reflect that.

Veno Says:


Sorry mate,

your analysis is a testament you know nothing about competitive tennis at the top level.

Fed got outplayed today. Props to Sod. Just like Nadal got outplayed last year by Sod(the knees the reason?? sure and I believe in the easter bunny….his knees were fine against Hewitt who he drubbed 1,3 and 1 two days before)

And so all the “experts” take this chance to tell the world what Fed should have done and how…..Please…..

Fed explained it very well during the presser and I’ll take his view together with Sod’s over any self proclaimed expert.

jane Says:

tennislover: “He did not sound too hurt after that USO final loss to Del Potro either.”

But he’d just won FO, Wimbledon and Cincy plus got to the finals of the USO – why SHOULD he feel disappointed!?

“If he doesn’t get hurt or angry at his big losses, it is in many ways not a good sign.”

But after not winning the USO (getting to the finals though), he still won the next slam – the AO!

Veno Says:


No need to worry about Fed. If he stays fit he’ll remain a major force. How did he get back from losing to DelPo at the USO 09 and not winning another tournament for months?

He won the OZ open this year for number 16.

The moment he steps on the grass at SW 19 he’ll be motivated as ever to regain the title and tie Pete for a 7th Wimbledon.

Everybody writing him off because he lost to the better player on the day in a QF at a Slam, after 23 consecutive semi’s? Nothing lasts forever and I for one don’t think Fed played poorly at all. Considering he just found his game during Madrid he’s done pretty well.
Disappointed to lose, sure, could he have won it? Definitely. But the title is going to be decided by the remaining 6 players in the draw and good luck to them.
Whoever wins it will have deserved it, just like every winner of a slam has deserved it.

Woulda could shoulda…..all irrelevant….

Kimmi Says:

tennislover – I agree that the conditions have a very big impact. But that is tennis for you. Players are benefited by style of play, surface, weather etc. It is the same as nadal benefiting on clay due to his syle of play. federer on grass etc. So kudos to big hitters if they are benefited by slow heavy conditions on clay. I hope sod wins his first GS!

joe w Says:

if my memory serves me right, soda took rafa out last year in similiar court conditions. it was definitely not a fast track. great comments everyone. i am typing on a kindle – no fast track either. hi theere von

Veno Says:

Agree Kimmi!!!

Go Sod!!!! For the win!!!!

Veno Says:

joe w: actually no, the conditions last year during the 4R when Sod took out Rafa were not even close to those of today.

Hate to break it to you, but it was hot and dry and the balls were light and flying through the air.

The only day the conditions last year came close to today was the final on the second Sunday.

Kimmi Says:

Hi veno, are you still in netherlands, if so then you must be an early riser?

Fot Says:

Great post Veno and Jane! Thumbs up!

Kimmi Says:

I was wondering about the conditions last year, i don’t remember it raining. But I remember the court being faster than normal though. Soda was hitting deep, most of his shots were very close to the baseline. Did not watch todays match, i bet he did the same to federer.

thanks veno for clarification. On his interview today soda said he thinks clay is his fav surface. I think he should be specific..RG clay :)

Fot Says:

One thing… since Roger’s been on this great streak, hasn’t the player who defeated him in a slam has gone on to win the slam? Just a thought. lol!

jane Says:

Fot, for a fan of Fed, there’s hardly any reason to be too blue at this point, I figure – sunny skies all the way. ; )

Hey joe w – hope your back is well and/or better.

Thaidiamond – love your cryptic, poetic “ancient” text allusion predictions. Keep them coming!

skeezerweezer Says:

@Kimo re: June 1st, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Please give that post to ron so he can take it over to TT :)

Oh and ron, there is no diseases here, only variety and mostly great comments. We had 470+ comments on one article on Feds match & loss, for and against, you had how many at TT? Maybe half?

This is where people want to read and post, why? Because it’s fair and balanced. :)Shaaammoooon!

It’s amazing how these guys come over here and use name calling all the time…gotta be like what…12 years old. That is the best you can do?
You have to provoke a good guy like Polo. C’mon!

Just sayin….

jane Says:

A striking prediction in this SI article; Soderling will take over the top mantle after Fed and Nadal

“”The biggest improvement on the men’s tour in the last two years,” Wilander said, “is Robin Soderling’s head.”

Read More:
Get a free NFL Team Jacket and Tee with SI Subscription

Fot Says:

Jane, Mats is not a really creditable sourse for me. He changes his mind too much and he’s hardly impartial when it comes to Robin! lol! BUT Robin has definitely improved. I don’t know about him taking over for Fed and Nadal because Nadal is actually younger than Soderling! But who knows what’s going to happen! A player yet on the scene may take over the reign…who knows.

skeezerweezer Says:


HAHAHA…good find :). What a quote by Wilander….

manfid Says:

congrats soderling

i see some unbelievable points from him, so many lines, so many big and good servers, he won the most points at critical times…
he played so great, that at times i think he was federer lol

everyone says roger is arrogant, sometimes i agree, but this time he take no excuses and say he lost because the other player play great tennis… and in my personal opinion i think roger played good, but soderling just never low his level.

good for roger to give credit to who deserve it, not like nadal last year who blame the loss to his knees, come on, he was outplayed just like federer today, so lame for his injuries excuses, like with murray in australia, seems like nadal use the “injuries” for excuses, so lame, cause he never do it before 2009, “i only lose when im injuried, if im healthy i cant lose” thats nadal for the last year, is not arrogance?

the break point in the match.- that line call for a love-40, that would be 3 set points for a 2-1 set, just like in the us open with the line call in the second set for a 2-0 set vs del potro.
seems like the kryptonite to roger mental focus are the calls that would give him set point but instead are recalled to level the game, then finally lost because the mental focus break.
hard to blame, i was celebrating the love-40, and thinking already in the fourth set, when i see molina calling it good (i think he was leveling, something usual in football referees, that is just wrong) i go mad

Michael Says:

What I predicted yesterday happened and Soderling beat Federer. I think the most crucial point in the match according to me was in the third set with Soderling serving at 4-5 and down a set point. In the end of the rally, Soderling hit a wild smash when went over the top, but unbelievably Federer retrieved and returned it as he is always known for. But Soderling anticipated it very well and hit a overhead backhand volley. That was the point of the match according to me. If Federer had won it, he would have won the third set and then even the match. But that was not to be and Soderling wrapped up the match taming Federer with his power and precision. Although I am sad that Federer lost the match, yet I am happy that Soderling won. It is because I want him badly in the finals to face Rafa. Rafa fears no one but Soderling and the fact that he lost time against him will always hang in his head when he plays him again. Now I wish Soderling goes all through and takes the Cup which he deserved it last year itself.

Anna Says:

If we have to rely on Wilander for direction we might be in big trouble. Wasn’t he the one who suggested that Roger’s male anatomy goes missing when he plays Rafa?

I can’t believe everyone is just skipping over Big Berd as if he doesn’t exist. Helloooooo! When you look at the big picture, Tomas has posted better results than Sod this year and whipped him pretty soundly in Miami. You know T-O-M-A-S B-E-R-D-Y-C-H the Czech. He might have a little somethin, somethin to say about who wins the semi between Sod and himself.

jane Says:

LOL! Wilander is nothing if not audacious in his statements. And yeah, Fot, a little bias in there no doubt. But Soda has had two huge wins at the F.O.; that much is for certain.

Twocents Says:

Enough is enough. Too much is too much.

Roger headed for ITF dinner to celebrate the end of his magic 23 SF tonight. Heads up, Fed fans, time to celebrate the biggest monkey off Fed’s and our back. As good as it was, it’s getting too heavy to bear.

A pat on my own shoulder: for spending my free miles on last year’s Fed/Sod RG match. Good choice :-))!

jane Says:

Anna, Berdy is a great player too and he probably moves better than Soderling; his shots are big as well, if not quite as huge, and he stated in his presser that he is now more fit and more patient. I’d say Soda probably has the edge in terms of confidence due to his upset wins and having been in a slam final at RG already. Their H2H is interesting, as I mentioned really high up on this thread, because the winner often wins lopsidely. While Berdy beat Soda 1 and 1 in Miami, Soda beat him 2 and 2 the time before that! They’ve played only once on clay, way back in 07, and that is the lone match that went 3 sets, with Berdy coming out on top. Their semi could be a thriller.

Skeezerweezer Says:


Ok I for one will be up for the Birdy Soda match. I hope it is a good one. Birdy can crunch the ball too. One word for both, “consistency”. Big hitters with potential big jitters, and Soda has passed the test so far :)

Twocents Says:

I still see Djok and Murray fare better than big hitters like Le Sod and JMDP. Brutal power kills opponents as well as it’s own master. Varieties have much better longevity.

Djok’s win over Fed at AO08 stood above JMDP’s USO09 and Sod’s FO10. Without it, Fed would have had like 18 final streak instead of 10+8.

Willie Says:

Unsurprisingly, almost all Fed fans are now rooting for Soderling to go all the way. This only shows how much you guys despise Nadal.

And for Fed, I guess it is now safe to say that his clay season sucked. Although actually after AO, everything else sucked!

Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t think it’s so much despising Nadal as it is seeing Fed’s conquerer go on to be the champ. Fed lost to Djoker in the AO semis and then he went on to win the title. And besides that, Fed’s lost in the finals of slams (obviously to the champ). So if Soderling goes on to win the whole thing, it’ll be another one of those Federer kind of things.

But I’m still pulling for Djokovic more than anyone.

Andrew Miller Says:

Federer is amazing, and his results this Spring have not been good – one final since the Aus. Open. Just one. Wonder if the new approach to Federer is coming together: bully him enough and he’ll fold.

I’d argue Federer’s sheer brilliance and shotmaking alone depress opponents. Soderling and Nadal and Del Potro don’t seem phased by it, and seem to “weather the storm”, until Federer becomes

more like “a [more] normal opponent” – and turns it into a battle of wills. More often than not Federer wins it.

Tough loss for the Federer. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go by Wimbledon: more time to prepare!

Skeezerweezer Says:

Who is Willie? Oh that’s right, TT. Heard all this before dude. If you really read the posts here from the beginning most everyone was picking your man to win. Maybe Fed with there heart, but Rafa with there heads. Don’t post fiction. Sod is playing great right now, how about givin the guy some respect? He just beat #1?

Andrew Miller Says:

Djokovic must have some confidence seeing Federer out. I worry about Berdych. He simply hasnt dropped a set! Not even to Andy Murray.

Anyone get the sense that this is the rise of the big man? Isner coming into his own, Soderling, Querrey, Del Potro,Verdasco, Cilic, Berdych – even Roddick. Davydenko was “the big thing” coming into the season, but the former players are “imposing their games” on opponents.

Wonder if the rise of the big man is for real.

Twocents Says:

Djok was my pick for FO10 before it started, and I’m sticking to it :-)).

Andrew Miller Says:

I picked the Federer to win! I thought his early rounds (easy wins) would translate into Federer having more than enough energy for a match like the one today. Goes to show:I know nothing. the draw, as easy as it became for Federer early on, did Federer no favors.

Dan Martin Says:

Berdych’s run reminds me of Mary Pierce’s run in 1994. He has a chance and is clearly on a hot streak.

OllyK Says:

Congrats to Soda, fantastic performace!!! If he continues to play like this everything is possible. Sorry Fed fans (maxi, I hope you are alright)..

kit Says:

soderling deserved the win, he played incredibly well, and have to admit that he outplayed federer. not so sad that fed lost, he will always be the greatest, for me. it will really be nice for soderling to win the FO, he has the game and the power to do it.

margot Says:

TwoCents: just popped in to say how much I agree with you. Though, as I said previously, I am thrilled for Soda pop, I too thought the match lacked variety. Yes Sod’s shots were awesome but…these big hitters just don’t do it for me. So I like Fed, Murray, Djko, Mac, Nastase etc etc.
SO I do hope your post at 12.10 is correct.
Weather forecast for UK for June is..”mixed” folks! Is that a case of having it both waysitis? Short term for FO is getting drier and hotter.
Veno!! What a treat, all you prodigal sons in fact welcome back to your true home.

Michael Says:

It is not that Federer played badly to lose to Soderling. I thought he played really well but Soderling took the game to another level and more importantly was consistent throughout the match. However, I thought Soderling didn’t play the level he played against Marin Cilic. That was really awesome from him. Now I want Soderling to reach the finals and conquer Rafa at Clay. This is for the sake of making Tennis more interesting especially the clay court variety.

guy Says:

this wimby seems a lot more interesting. besides the top four, you can add berdych,sod, roddick, hewitt and even gasquet is hitting some form before the grass season.
be hardest wimby for fed to defend for some time.

madmax Says:

Here is something really interesting, pre-mega fed grand slam tourny maestro, starting out with Lungren. Deserves the long post, link broken.

Skeeze, this is for you :)

Chapter 15

The Grand Slam Block

Roger Federer’s declared goal for 2003 was, as before, to win a Grand Slam tournament. He finally wanted to rid himself of the moniker as the best player in tennis without a Grand Slam title. In his 14 career Grand Slam tournament appearances, his best results were two modest quarterfinal finishes— both achieved in 2001.

Coach Peter Lundgren still displayed an unshakable belief in Federer. He constantly repeated the mantra in his sonorous voice that Federer required more time than others to fully develop. “He has an unbelievable repertoire and he needs more time with his game for all the pieces to come together,” he said, declaring that the goal to be achieved for the 2003 season was to reach the top four in the world rankings. “Roger is on the right path and shouldn’t listen to what others are saying. He’s like a bird that is learning how to fly. As soon as he reaches his maximum flying altitude, he’ll be hard to beat. He is now beating all the players he is supposed to be beating. There isn’t much of a difference between being ranked No. 1, No. 5 and No. 10.” Pleasant words and nice thoughts—but what else was Peter Lundgren supposed to say?

More disturbing than the initial, unexpected defeats to Jan-Michael Gambill in Doha and Franco Squillari in Sydney was the reappearance of the pains in his groin that just didn’t want to go away. Federer was forced to rest and not practice for two days and his status for the Australian Open was in doubt. In addition, his late season surge and appearance in the Tennis Masters Cup in China late in 2002 diminished the already paltry tennis offseason. The season’s first Grand Slam tournament came much too early in the tennis season, especially for those who competed in the year-end Tennis Masters Cup. “There isn’t enough time to prepare,” said Federer.

The Czech Pavel Kovac was a member of Federer’s entourage as a physiotherapist since the past summer. He was a taciturn, burly man completely devoted to serving Federer. The wear and tear of the tennis circuit made Kovac and his services very important to Federer’s future success. Kovac managed to stop Federer’s pain just in time for him to post at the Australian Open.

In his first three matches, Federer did not lose a set. Expectations rose, especially when two of his rivals in his half of the draw—Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin—were eliminated from the tournament—Hewitt losing to Younes El Aynaoui and Marat Safin withdrawing with injury prior to his third-round match with Rainer Schuettler. In the round of 16, Federer faced David Nalbandian for the third time in his professional career—and for a third time—he was defeated. Federer seemed dazed against Nalbandian and struggled with the Argentinean’s backhand and strong counter-attack in the 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 loss. Another opportunity to win a Grand Slam tournament disappeared. Federer was completely devastated.

Away from the pressures of Grand Slam tournament play, Federer flourished and continued his winning ways. He won 16 of his next 17 matches—including two singles victories in Davis Cup against the Netherlands, where the Swiss, led by new captain Marc Rosset, defeated the Dutch 3-2. He then won his sixth and seventh career ATP titles in Marseille and Dubai. For the third consecutive year, the ATP named him the “Player of the Month” for February.

While Federer experienced disappointments on the major stages of the Tennis Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne, he again demonstrated his strength in Davis Cup, registering all three points for Switzerland in its 3-2 upset of France in Toulouse. So excited was Federer at leading the Swiss into the Davis Cup semifinals, he uncharacteristically celebrated at a disco in the French city, dancing and partying until the wee hours of the morning. Federer’s success continued into the start of the clay court season as he won the title in Munich and also reached the final of the Italian Open, losing unexpectedly to Felix Mantilla of Spain. The result, however, still propelled him into the conversation as being a favorite to win the French Open.

Roger Federer
“I feel much better this year than the year before when I first was in the top 10,” he explained in one of the many interviews before the French Open. “It was a new situation for me back then. I’ve gotten used to it in the meantime.”

He admitted to feeling the pressure from the public. “The entire world keeps reminding me that I am supposed to win a Grand Slam tournament and be No. 1 in the world. That’s not fair because it’s not that easy,” he said. He then stated defiantly that “whoever wants to beat me will have to work hard for it. I don’t want to lose in the first round at Roland Garros again.”

On a summery Monday afternoon in Paris, Federer’s first match at the 2003 French Open took place on Court Philippe Chatrier, the center court named after the Frenchman who was a past president of the International Tennis Federation. His opponent was an unknown Peruvian Luis Horna, whom Federer beat earlier in the year in Key Biscayne. Horna, ranked No. 88 in the world, had yet to win a match at a Grand Slam tournament. Federer took an early 5-3 lead in the first set, but began to show his insecurity and nerves when, during a routine rush to the net, he slipped and fell to the ground, only to mutter to himself and show negative emotions. Despite his lead, he seemed discouraged and, quite unusually, often glanced desperately at Peter Lundgren. Federer lost his service break advantage and despite holding a set point in the tie-break, he surrendered the first set by an 8-6 tie-break. The match immediately turned into a drama for Federer. He seemed frustrated, apathetic and didn’t show any belief that he could win. He appeared mentally absent, missing even the easiest shots. He tallied 82 unforced errors in the 7-6 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (3) first-round loss.

The tournament was shockingly finished before it even really began. Federer, the fallen favorite, appeared in the overcrowded interview room with his head bowed low. “I don’t know how long I’ll need to get over this defeat,”

he said. “A day, a week, a year—or my entire career.”

Federer became the ridicule of the tournament. France’s sports newspaper L’Equipe ran a headline the next day translated as, “Shipwrecked In Quiet Waters” and published a cartoon in which a steam ship named “Roland Garros” steams away, leaving Federer behind in quiet waters. Florida’s Palm Beach Post described him as the “Phil Mickelson of Tennis,” comparing Federer to the American golfer who failed to win any of the major tournaments despite his great talent and many opportunities. “Federer has all the strokes but no Grand Slam trophy. He carries the dog tags of the best tennis player who has never won a major competition.”

The loss undeniably confirmed Federer’s reputation as a Grand Slam loser. He showed that he was a player who could not pull out a match even though he was not playing his best tennis—a characteristic that most champion tennis players exhibited, most notably in the present by Lleyton Hewitt, who could win a match on guts and determination alone. Since his victory over Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001, Federer was 0-4 in matches at the French Open and Wimbledon—the last three matches without even winning a set. His last five Grand Slam tournaments ended in defeat at the hands of much lower-ranked players

What could one say in his defense? Federer was now five years into his ATP career and approached his 22nd birthday. He won six ATP singles titles, excelled in Davis Cup play and time and again insisted he was capable of achieving greatness. He was considered one of the bigger stars in tennis and climbed to No. 5 in the world rankings. But outside of the title in Hamburg, all of the tournaments he won were smaller events and even the German Open was not a Grand Slam tournament. Federer failed routinely in the arenas where it was decided if a player was a champion or not. The once precocious maverick simply could not bring his tremendous potential to bear at the Grand Slams. When looking at the successes of his idols, rivals or earlier great players, he couldn’t help but feel envy.

At his age, Becker, Borg, Courier, Edberg and Sampras as well as Hewitt, Safin and many others had already long since won their first Grand Slam titles. Federer, however, had not even reached the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament. The experts were unanimous in their opinions that Federer was mature enough athletically to break through a win his first title. But athletic brilliance alone was not sufficient enough and Federer was still searching for the key to real success. An analysis would seem to indicate that a mental block was preventing him from winning. He felt under pressure to such a degree at the Grand Slam tournaments that he couldn’t concentrate on the moment, especially in the early rounds. This was a basic rule for success. The pressure came from all sides—but mostly from himself. He hadn’t yet learned that these tournaments couldn’t be won in the first week but they certainly could be lost. With some luck, he could have already won a Grand Slam title—in 2001, for example, after upsetting Sampras. Everything would have looked different.

After his loss to Horna, Federer seemed to be the loneliest man in tennis. He was a man alone braving the stormy tempest. How could he have known that this defeat was to be his last such one-sided Grand Slam defeat in a very, very long time? How could he have known that this painful experience was necessary in order to become the hardened, keen-sighted but yet modest champion who would have the tennis world at his feet?

Federer described what really happened when he faced Horna in Paris months later. “I was simply not prepared mentally,” he said. “I put myself under too much pressure. After losing the first set, I couldn’t get back into the match. I had the feeling that it was impossible, that I was no longer in control of the situation. After the first set, I said to myself, ‘Even if I survive this round, I still have to play six more rounds to win this tournament.’ That almost drove me insane. I put myself under such pressure that I couldn’t play anymore.”

After the match, he said that he was overwhelmed with questions about the how and why. “But at that moment, I didn’t really feel like talking about it. I was too disappointed. I wanted to do nothing else but take eight days vacation and then start my preparations for the grass tournament in Halle. I didn’t want to think about Roland Garros—I wanted to forget it. I didn’t want to analyze what happened because I knew that I had simply failed mentally. I didn’t accept it by any means.”

Ollyk, sort of. will post you later. love.

Tennis10 Says:

Feel more upset that Fed seems to be! Anyway he seems to be more at home on grass.
Congrats to Soderling, he played an amazing match, I hope he can go on to win it and keep Fed at #1!!!

By the way, if Fed loses his #1 to Rafa, can he get it back by winning Wimbledon?

Michael Says:

Tennis 10, Federer retaining his No.1 ranking depends on the performance of Rafa. If Rafa goes on to win the French Open, then he will be ranked No.1. Moreover last year Rafa didn’t participate in the Queens Club and Wimbledon, therefore he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Federer on the other hand badly needs to win Halle and also retain his Wimbledon crown if he has to entertain any chances of retaining his No.1 ranking. Seems to be a tall order. But knowing Federer, it is definitely not impossible.

Michael Says:

Seeing the way Soderling is serving I feel he will be a bigger threat at Wimbledon. But I see him as the most unlucky player having tough draws in every tournament he enters. Most often or not, he is placed to meet the Top 4 very early. Even this French Open, he had Dent, Montanes, Cilic and now Federer to overcome and that is a terrible draw.

Tanya_Harding Says:

I hate people who write a post longer than War & Peace.

Just get to the point, and express a thought.

Your opinion is no greater than the next.

tfouto Says:

Thanks for the post Madmax. Very interesting.

Michael Says:

Although it is too early for the finals, Nadal who I see as a certainity will surely prefer Berdych more than Soderling. With his type of game, Soderling can give endless troubles to Nadal on Clay.

tfouto Says:

History will repeat. Soderling will loose in the final to the number 2, after winning to no. 1 and former FO champion.

Tanya_Harding Says:

Oh Michael,

I couldn’t disagree more. Nadal would like nothing more than to avenge his loss to Soderling and prove he can dismantle his powerful game at ROLAND GARROS.

Nadal doesn’t hide from a fight. He takes it head on like a tiger.

montecarlo Says:

Q : What did you feel right after the match point ?
R.S. : Well, to be honest, I felt like Nadal when he defeats Federer : hated by the French crowd as if I had just murderer their children. Of course, Roger is the greatest champion ever, but well, I’ve won and I was not expecting the biggest celebration ever, but a few applauses and nice words would have been appreciated.

Q : Did this behaviour of the crowd disappoint you ?
R.S. : I’m not disappointed, I’m just hoping the crowd was disturbed by the rain and the cold temperatures rather than by me, and I hope I was not the reason for the cold atmosphere out there.

Q : What kind of support do you expect for the rest of the tournament ?
R.S. : Well, I prefer not to expect anything, I’m trying to stay focused on myself, it seems to work well, right ?

madmax Says:


I am going to try and explain this, but there are many people here who are much better at this than me.

Irrespective of whether Rafa wins FO, Wimbledon is an exception to the rule.

This is completely confusing, I know.

Federer will still go into Wimby seeded no.1,(but not ranked no.1 if rafa wins FO).

Rafa has no points to defend at Wimby (as you know) as he withdrew last year, so he can only gain points.

Fed has 2000 points to defend at wimby.

(there will be a switch from No.1 to No.2 “rankings” AFTER WIMBY),(if rafa wins FO) but Fed could regain No.1 ranking if he wins at USO. (should he lose his No.1 ranking – based on rafa’s performance at FO – in the first place, if you get my drift?).

Rafa went out at SF stage last year at USO, Fed made it to the finals, Fed would have to win USO to get back to no. 1. The points between rafa and roger are close – I think 45 points.

Someone a while ago did a brilliant analysis of this, which I’m sure when they read my hopeless attempt, they will correct me!

Ben, put me right please, or anyone else who is a stats man!

madmax Says:


here is the link to the current rankings:

Federer 10,030 points

Nadal 6880 points

Djokovic 6405 points

Kimmi Says:

Go sam…enjoy the matches today people

Polo Says:

Good morning everyone! I hope Stosur’s nerves hold up well.

Polo Says:

I have to check with ATDHE if they are showing the men’s game there.

Polo Says:

Nope! Gives me time to do some work.

Huh Says:

“Willie Says:
Unsurprisingly, almost all Fed fans are now rooting for Soderling to go all the way. This only shows how much you guys despise Nadal.”

Doesn’t matter what you think.

GO SOD!!! :D

Huh Says:


Thank u so very much for giving the excerpts from Fed’s interview!!! :)

How Graceful Roger is, despite the tough loss!!
Gives all the credit and then some, to Sod! :)
But then, that’s why he’s Roger Federer… the champion of champions.
Your Fan- Huh! :)

Huh Says:

Nobody beats ‘The Sod’ 13 times in a row! ;)

And no way ‘The Fed’ beats anyone 13 times in a row! ;) ;/

sar Says:

any streams for novak?

Huh Says:

And make no mistake, nobody reaches the FO final more than 4 times in row.

sar Says:

Where is everybody?

Huh Says:

And the FO curse of the No.1 seed not winning it continues.

Never be No.1 in the world at the time of FO, if you wanna win it.

contador Says:

just waking up.

melzer and djoko on livestream.


Huh Says:

Mrs. Jane:

Thanx for providing the link to the SI article.
It was fantastic to read.

And so fitting that the guy to break the RG streak of Rafa and GS semi streak of Fed comes from the country of Bjorn Borg!
Just see why I always say that Bjorn Borg was GREAT and IS still the clay GOAT! Borg’s ghost/shadow is powerful enough and gives the required goods, inspiration and belief to his countryman Sod to bring down Fed and Rafa at RG. Imagine just what woulda happened if he himself stepped into the court to face Fed/Rafa there?! ;)

A little kidding of course, but still I mean it, i.e. BJORN BORG’S STILL THE PARIS KING! :)

Twocents Says:


I know a fair-minded fan like you support Murray not just cuz he’s Scot :-)). Like Fed said: Murray is too good a player not to win a slam — soon.

Huh, borther, you go!
Our man went down fighting, not retire or even no show.

Got to run. Have fun.

skeezerweezer Says:


Tx for the read :)

madmax Says:


you’re welcome!

Huh Says:

Hi Mr. Twocents:

Sorry while responding and posting on some posts, I just forgot to post to u even though I was very pleased to see u here again. :P
Yes, our Fed definitely went down fighting, he always does, wins most of the time, loses sometimes too. But that’s life and he isn’t a machine. But reading Fed’s interview made me even more proud of him and increased my resect manifold for him. He gave fullest credit to Sod. Not only that, he isn’t worried about Pete’s record either. I think Fed’s eventually going to surpass Pete’s record even though he doesn’t need that to solidify his place among greats. I just can’t see him not reaching No.1 ever again. He’d again reach the top, none arguably is going to hold him off for long from reaching No.1, not with Nole, Murray being headcases, DP remaining injured or Nadal not dominating over long stretches of time. Anyway, that’s my take. Time will tell what’s gonna happen, however.

You please do keep coming here more often Mr.Twocents. Take care and would write to u again. :)

Huh Says:

” Soderling should have let Federer win for the good of the sport. He is very selfish.”

Now this is ridiculous! Why should Sod have allowed Fed to win? Losing 13 straight times to Fed woulda been fun for him, that’s why? Absolutely ridiculous statement!

Huh Says:

Now Sod deserved yesterdays’ victory THE MOST against Fed, and he won. Now this should be called good of the sport, the more-deserving one winning on the day, this is what true tennis fans must hope for as this is what does justice to the sport. Very happy for Sod. Proud of Fed too, he went down fighting and not like a coward!

Andrew Miller Says:

There you have it…Serena’s out! My two picks, out. I will keep who I want to win now to myself.

Huh Says:

For the love of God, HOLD NOLE!

Kevin Says:

/* Soderling should have let Federer win for the good of the sport. He is very selfish */

That happened last year…Del Potro and everyone had a softcorner for federer to win the FO..

I like tennis bullies Says:

love it
when federer loses tennis wins
rock it robin

Michael Says:

Kevin, Your contention is preposterous. How can any player gift away a match ? Remember Federer has won 16 Grand slams and Soderling has none. Now who needs to gift away, if at all it needs to be done ??

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