Two years ago, it was Robin Soderling who was able to knock off Rafael Nadal, marking the first time, and to date the only time that someone beat the Spaniard on the clay courts of Roland Garros. The two will meet again on Wednesday in what should be an absolutely bone chilling match between two of the best male tennis players in the world.
What more can we say about Rafa? Nadal has done just about everything right in his career, especially in majors, and he already has the career Grand Slam. He has played in seven straight quarterfinals now at the Grand Slam level, and if he was to win this even, it would be the sixth time in seven years in which he proved to be the champ. He seemingly had to wake up from his slumber over the course of the first three sets against John Isner, Nadal just hasn’t been touched. He has won all 11 sets since that point, and he has only played to one tiebreak since that opening round match. Of course, Nadal hasn’t played a ranked player in this tournament to date, and this is clearly going to be the biggest match of his tournament to date. Ivan Ljubicic was the most recent to drop to the Spaniard, who lost 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. Nadal has committed six double faults already in four matches, which seems to be a bit of a stretch for a man that rarely makes mistakes, especially on clay.
No, Soderling hasn’t figured out how to win a Grand Slam event in his career, but he does have some great wins in his career against players like Roger Federer and Nadal. Soderling has been the runner up in this event in back to back years, and that was the first time that he had made it to even the fourth round in the French Open. Since that point, he has been into the fourth round of eight out of nine Grand Slam events. There is definitely going to be a lot of pressure on Soderling in this match, but he has already overcome one major challenge in this tournament. He took out Gilles Simon, one of the fan favorites here on the clay courts of Roland Garros in straight sets in the fourth round 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5). In fact, there has only been one set that the Swede has dropped during this entire tournament, and that was way back in the first round against American, Ryan Harrison.
Rafa might be the king of the clay courts, but he hasn’t quite been himself this year on this surface. Nadal is likely to end up getting picked off at some point, and this is the man that just might be able to do it. We know that this isn’t a 50/50 proposition, but we do think that the French Open odds are on the side of Soderling +235.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.