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K.I.S.S. Revised 06/01/2010 - 3:07 PM

101323336(3)

by Pete Bodo

Let's alter the source of that KISS acronym to, Keep it Simple, Soderling. Because that's what Robin did at Roland Garros today, dethroning defending champion Roger Federer and halting the reigning no. 1's other-worldly streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances. 

Soderling accomplished what, oh, some 110 previous opponents have not been able to do at all those other majors (16 of them eventually won by Federer), but Juan Martin del Potro was able to accomplish in a match that had no bearing on Federer's semifinal streak because it occurred in a final (at the U.S. Open last September; don't for a moment think Soderling wasn't watching). Soderling took the game to Federer and overpowered him with a deadly combination of raw power tennis and a willingness to put unrelenting pressure on Federer's backhand.

The winner-to-error ratio was significant. Soderling rained down 49 winners, nine more than Federer, and more than the top seed in every set but the first. Soderling also hit a yeoman's share of unforced errors (42, to Federer's 27), but that's the nature of go-for-broke tennis; you can smack three ugly errors to go down 0-40, but if you win the game, who cares?

In that regard, the forced error stats may speak most eloquently for Soderling's effort: Federer made nine more forced errors (48), which tells you what kind of pressure he was under. Added up (if my math is correct) that amounts to 124 points that were decided by Soderling winners, errors he forced, and gifts from Federer. That's 30-plus games worth of points (on the admittedly shaky assumption that four points equal a game).

But this was a slightly more textured form of simple than it might appear, for straight-ahead power players usually play on their own terms, and hit the ball any danged place they please. Soderlings innate recognition of, and respect for, Federer's forehand convinced him that discretion is the better - but not the only  - part of valor. In this match, he played with equal measures of both, synthesizing a lot of Rafael Nadal (pressure the backhand) and Del Potro, or even a guy like Fernando Gonzalez: take huge cuts, burn the lines, hold nothing back and hope it all works out okay. In other words, Keep it Simple, Stup - er, Soderling.

At the outset, It appeared that Federer would meet this challenge as he has met so many similar ones. He won the first set comfortably, but lost his momentum and promptly lost the first three games of the second; the damage was done, and it was enough to put the wind at Soderling's back. He made his early break stand up as the men held to serve out another 6-3 set.

Soderling made his key break of the match in the eleventh game of the third set, for 6-5. He was shaky, serving that next game, but he never lost his nerve. He served out the set following what appeared to be an egregious error by umpire Stefan Fransson. Federer hit a forehand that appeared to be out on set point, but Fransson checked what might have been the wrong mark and refused to overrule.

Federer never got his racket on the replay ball, a heavy ace.

By then, the off-and-on drizzle was adding to the complications. The men left the court once (in the third set) for an extended rain delay, but spent part of the third and almost all of the fourth looking up at the skies, glaring at the tournament referee, consulting the umpire to talk about - what else? - the weather. . .

At one point, early in the fourth set, they rested in their chairs on court for a spell while the umbrellas sprouted throughout the stadium. Each man sat like a spent prize-fighter, red towel draped over his shoulders, under an umbrella. It was certainly a distraction that posed greater problems for Soderling, as it always does for the underdog who must fear fear that his momentum is broken. And Soderling is enough of a veteran to know that you allow the champ to hit the re-set button at your peril. There's a world of difference between "any given day" and "any given two consecutive days."

Play on, the umpire said.

The most telling moment appeared to be the third game of the fourth set, with Federer up a break at 2-0. He played a dismal game, falling behind 0-40. For a moment, he remembered who he is, and saved a break point with a service winner. But he made a forehand error on the next point to allow Soderling to even the set, and from that point on Federer was the one struggling to stay in the match.

The main difference, in the big picture, was that Soderling reached out aggressively to take the match, and he did that from start to finish. Meanwhile, Federer did a fair impersonation of Hamlet, his game fading in and out like the signal from a distant radio. More and more, it looks as if Federer is not really playing to win, the way a Soderling is in these upward arcing days of his career.

It seems that Federer is playing not to lose. He's doing a fair job of that, hanging in, fending off, snarling and snapping like a captive wolf in a cage. But Federer doesn't seem to seek the freedom represented by victory, or triumph over his captors and adversaries. He doesn't appear to want to attack, break through, run like the wind and distance himself from his tormentors.

The question, going into this event, was whether Federer would muster the focus, hunger, and determination that seems to have been in remission since he won the Australian Open. Did he have a stock game for most tournaments and a custom one for majors?

Unfortunately for Federer, Soderling was the most dangerous of opponents to entrust with those questions. He asked them all, and we all saw the answers.

The press conferences are just coming up; I think I'll wait until tomorrow to assess it all.


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Posted by Cupcake lurker 06/01/2010 at 03:11 PM

Congrats to Le Sod.

Let's see if you can take the title.

Posted by TD 06/01/2010 at 03:18 PM

Amazing game by Soderling, give him the full credit. He definitely watched the del-Potro match...

Posted by Skw 06/01/2010 at 03:22 PM

I have to say your analysis of Soderling implies he wasn't thinking much or using tactic, but rather swinging for the fences and hoping it goes in. There is a LOT of skill that goes into power tennis, and I think your representation of Soderling's tactics (KISS) is insulting to his tennis IQ.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/01/2010 at 03:23 PM

Congrats again to Le Sod. He certainly earned that victory, regrouping from one set down. This Nadal fan thinks he more than deserves to make it to the final. Still want Rafa to win the tourny, of course ; )

Commiserations to Roger and all his fans. I believe his semifinal streak will stand the test of time.

Posted by beth ( Jake is graduated !!!! ) 06/01/2010 at 03:34 PM

well - I am just settling in to watch the end of the match on the espn 2 replay . I left to go to my team workout when it was a set all - and did not get to see the completion of the match , although I heard the result
Congratulations to Soderling( and fans ) and commiserations to Federer ( and fans )
Now they know kind of how we Nadal fans felt last year when this guy - in a complete shocker - took out our favorite

I do not think anyone will ever match that streak of semifinals though - Roger will stand alone there at the top of that list .

Posted by vetmama 06/01/2010 at 03:40 PM

Pete

You've got an error in the first sentence (althought I wish it was true!)

It's 23 straight SEMIfinals...

"halting the reigning No. 1's other-worldly streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam final appearances."

Posted by CL 06/01/2010 at 03:42 PM

Heh - as usual I was the tail on the donkey at the end of the last thread. Some of this is even relevant to what Pete posted.

Kif - good question. I don't thing going to Halle represents...how did someone put it up thread?...chasing third rate tournaments?...or something like that. I think it might be good to get in a little extra practice on the grass. Its not as if he has been playing a ton of tennis since the AO...between being ill and losing earlier than he is used to. Also, he has played Halle often in the past and seems to enjoy the tournament there. However being Fed, he will probably stick to his schedule.

CherryNYC - heh...well, sane yes, happy, not so much...just that I am so NOT gutted or anything close, really. How did Beckham put it after last year's Wimby - "Dude can do anything he wants...lose early, shank a million balls...become a stay at home dad...whatever. " Or words to that effect. ;-)

Mr. CL thinks that Fed has lost the deep down hunger necessary to win matches like this. To which I asked, 'he lost it in 6 mos.?' It is possible, of course. Pete has alluded to this a couple of times. Pretty nice life if you are Roger Federer. Even today...upset as he probably is about this loss, he goes back to the hotel and there is Mirka and the 2 adorable babies, (who don't know and could care less that Daddy just got thumped off the court by a tall guy from Sweden), and his Mom and Dad and sister who love and support him no matter what...and I will bet the pain will ease pretty darn quickly. For a human being that is wonderful...for a human being who wants to remain at the top of the game, maybe a little less wonderful. Wimby should be fascinating this year.

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 03:43 PM

full marks Rob Le Sod

Well Fed's run had to end someday, and more likely the French than anywhere else, no? He'll be fine, and back. Hope he goes and enjoys some off time with the family before green-fun of merry England

Posted by Pete 06/01/2010 at 03:44 PM

Yikes! Thanks Vetmama. That's what happens when you try to beat the rest of the world with an analysis piece. It's fixed.

Posted by adman 06/01/2010 at 03:46 PM

not really a huge fed fan, but still pretty disappointed to see his streak ending. But now I am very eagerly awaiting a sod vs nadal final. Can you imagine the drama in that match, I mean at least fed and rafa like each other. These two despise each other. I do think that robin goes into every match pretty much swinging for the lines. I am not saying he doesnt use strategy, I am just saying he unloads on every forehand and a lot of backhands. It really isn't fun tennis to watch. Every point becomes so short and there are always so many unforced errors.

Posted by CL 06/01/2010 at 03:46 PM

Psst - Grant? Are you there? There is no point in hiding you know. Sooner or later the Federerfan Traitor Seeking, Semi Guided Missile & Pocket Calculator Combo is going to find you.

Posted by Master Ace 06/01/2010 at 03:48 PM

Congratulations to Robin Soderling for being the first player to defeat defending champion at the French since Mats Wilander did it in 1984(Yannick Noah won 1983) and 1985(Ivan Lendl won 1984).

Now, other than Rafael, the book will be to hit hard and flat shots against Roger as Juan Martin, Marcos, and Tomas have executed this plan. Believe NP said that Roger footwork is slower than in the past as age have crept up on him.

Posted by Mike 06/01/2010 at 03:49 PM

Hugs to fellow Fed KADs, congrats to Sod Fans. The streak had to end some day (at 23 semi finals). Question is, can Sod and Rafa both make it to Sunday, and what will be the outcome ... this time? Sod has begun a habit of breaking major streaks, usually the territory of Fed and Rafa. Does he have what it takes to join Nole and Delpo in the role of Fedal spoiler? We'll see .. ;)

Posted by vetmama 06/01/2010 at 03:49 PM

Nadal fans,

After this Soderling performance, you should be scared. Very scared.
In today's match, Sod played even better than he did in last year's stunning upset.

Even though he still has Berdych to get through before even getting to the final and he'd have to produce another amazing performance like this to knock off Rafa, the worrisome thing is that he KNOWS he can do it because he's done it before.

It's old news to him that he can beat Rafa Nadal at the French, and IF Robin's not physically in trouble, that may be all Sod needs to go... all... the... way.

*crossing fingers for Rafa*

Posted by Rockin'Robin 06/01/2010 at 03:51 PM

I've been saying it for awhile, Robin is for real.
Too bad for Fed though, he had a great run getting to 23 semis in a row.

What would be REALLY interesting is if Soderling can get past Berdych(that wont be easy, Berdych is ON FIRE) and then we get a Robin vs. Rafa final for a rematch of round 4 of last year. And honestly, that would make everything so much more interesting because I believe Robin is the only guy who scares Nadal here.

Soderling may very well win his title

Posted by CherryNYC 06/01/2010 at 03:54 PM

Anybody watching the Fed presser? How's he looking?

Posted by vetmama 06/01/2010 at 03:54 PM

ROFLMAO, CL!

Why are you blaming Grant?

(not that it wouldn't be fun to blow him up just for fun)

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 03:54 PM

loving the doom-mongery

Posted by 14-7 head to head 06/01/2010 at 03:56 PM

I'm not scared at all. you should mourn and go to bed because Nadal is going to regain No.1.

Posted by Caroline 06/01/2010 at 03:57 PM

"It seems that Federer is playing not to lose. He's doing a fair job of that, hanging in, fending off, snarling and snapping like a captive wolf in a cage. But Federer doesn't seem to seek the freedom represented by victory, or triumph over his captors and adversaries. He doesn't appear to want to attack, break through, run like the wind and distance himself from his tormentors."

Seriously, does Roger have any tormentors left except - sometimes - himself?

Posted by 14-7 head to head 06/01/2010 at 03:59 PM

Wimbledom will be very interesting. Now Federer's aura is gone, it will be anybody's game.

Posted by Rafalicious 06/01/2010 at 04:00 PM

Looks like we may have a Sodal final!!!

Posted by CL 06/01/2010 at 04:00 PM

vetmama- all true- but a couple of things to keep in mind. First, Robin's form seems to be quite up and down this year....it has been seriously UP for this FO, but still, what goes up, CAN come down. And secondly, he may have a niggling leg injury which is not a good thing esp. on clay. Though, who knows, perhaps it actually added impetus to his desire to hit everything a ton and just go for broke every time he got even half a chance. Didn't want to give Fed a chance to run him around.

Posted by Aquinas 06/01/2010 at 04:00 PM

I may be in the minority, but I think a Soderling-Nadal final would be bigger than a Federer-Nadal final.

Posted by eurail pass 06/01/2010 at 04:01 PM

vetmama: If Rafa and Soderling meet in the final, Rafa will clean him up in three torturous sets.

Posted by love 06/01/2010 at 04:01 PM

for Soderling: dude the spanish matador is coming to thrash u.........so b ready this time

Posted by OMG1 06/01/2010 at 04:02 PM

I think one of you is right, I've watched the entire match, and I think age has finally crept into Fed's game (and I'm a huge huge fan of his!). I think the main problem is his inconsistency of first serve (man, that hurt him in the second set), and his FOOTWORK. He's always a little bit slower in getting to balls, and his ability to just block huge serves back into the court is missing too (against Roddick). I think Wimby represents a last chance for him to win another major this year, with regard to USO, it will probably be a 50/50 chance he might win that one. But man, did Sod hit those balls with super power. I think if he stay focus, Nadal's gonna has his work cut out for him (that is if he gets by Berdych)

Posted by felizjulianidad 06/01/2010 at 04:03 PM

The thing to remember with Nadal is that he DOES have a history of conquering his tormentors.

Throughout his career, he's been consistently overpowered by some player or another. Think back to the early days of Hewitt, Blake and Berdych (2005-2006) - he started overcoming them in 2007, most notably with Berdych, and then Blake the following year. Tsonga hammered him mercilessly in Australia, and has since lost every single hard court match they've played. Nalbandián ran over him (and everyone else) in late 2007, and though Nadal is far from comfortable with him, he's levelled the H2H at 2-all.

So that gives me some encouragement with regards to how Nadal faces challenges. Soderling got 2 straight against Nadal, and Capitala may have been the inflection in that relationship (it certainly was for Soderling-Fed).

I'm not AT ALL looking forward to a Nadal-Soderling final, but if it happens, then Nadal's tendency to overcome past challenges (in the form of hard-hitting players who dealt him painful defeats) is what I'll hang onto.

Posted by Cheri 06/01/2010 at 04:05 PM

Shear / Blunt power cannot overcome the degree of technicality over a period of time. A record 14-1 win / loss ratio clearly implicates it. Though not a big fan of Federer cos of the dominance :-), Wish the best to Berdych to take this hurdle away for VaMOs RaFaS!!

Posted by CL 06/01/2010 at 04:05 PM

vetmama - because Grant announced the other night that he, long time Fed fan, was now completely 'over' Fedfandom, and was actually rooting for Robin. ***gasp** !!!! Clearly the universe belched and Robin won. Do you have access to drugs that would make Grant throw up like puppy on green grass and too many hot dogs...French or otherwise? We could slip it in his drink- though trying to do that long distance does pose challenges. Which is, of course, where the Traitor Seeking Missile comes in.

Posted by Rob 06/01/2010 at 04:06 PM

It takes more than Fed's "lost aura" to beat him at Wimbledon. Sampras lost his aura many times only to win at SW14.

Fed's decline is inevitable. More interesting to me is how he will navigate the next few years. He'll win more slams for sure ... and probably lose a few too.

Still the greatest, as any self-respecting tennis fan must believe, even if it hurts a little (ask me: Mr. Sampras was my guy).

Posted by Rafalicious 06/01/2010 at 04:06 PM

Rafa will be looking forward to getting his revenge on Soderling, he will be pumped and ready

Posted by vetmama 06/01/2010 at 04:06 PM

All in all, this FO was a good performance by Roger. But...

His entire post-AO season has been marked by up-and-down play during matches.
First set fantastic, second and third set shaky.
75% first serves, then 45%.

I was really happy to see that he had stopped all that ridiculousness here at the French.

What I didn't realize was that he was saving it all up for today...>:(

Posted by MsChoy 06/01/2010 at 04:06 PM

I'm still a little choked over Fed's loss but there is something full circle about him losing in the quarters @ RG when it is almost exactly 6 yrs ago that he lost in the same place to Nadal in 2004 before going on the amazing streak.

Soderling is now the answer to 2 triva questions! How cool is that? I would also like to see a Soderling vs. Nadal final! But don't forget Berdych, who is playing very well!

Posted by Caroline 06/01/2010 at 04:08 PM

felizjulianidad - Rafa is not alone in having a history of conquering his tormentors. A look a the career stats of one R Federer seems to suggest that he might also have done it.

Posted by Rob 06/01/2010 at 04:09 PM

"Rafa will be looking forward to getting his revenge on Soderling, he will be pumped and ready"

And I'll be cracking open a cold one to watch that encounter...

Posted by alex 06/01/2010 at 04:09 PM

Pete Bodo:"weather conditions must be be perfect(sunny, no wind ..etc)in order Soderling to win"
its amazing how many stupid things Pete Bodo can say(podcast) & write about tennis and still get money for it !
one "white socks wearing american" out of Paris another one in.....
ps
any news about when Peer will get her RG trophy ???
Peer is according to Bodo the best WTA player ever!!!!(listen to podcast... funny stuff)

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/01/2010 at 04:10 PM

Rafa sees Soderling coming. He'll be ready.

Posted by Link 06/01/2010 at 04:12 PM

@MsChoy

6 years ago Federer lost to Kuerten in the 3rd round, before beginning his streak. Federer's first loss to Nadal in RG was in 2005, in the semis. I refer to 2005 as the birthday gift year ;)

Posted by CL 06/01/2010 at 04:12 PM

Well maybe time has indeed tippy-toed up on Fed. But my oh my he was moving like the wind, really, in Melbourne. I don't think I've seen him move as well for a least two years BEFORE that. So maybe it was old man time and maybe it was just a slow day at the office.

Posted by Rockin'Robin 06/01/2010 at 04:12 PM

One more interesting thing to note for Federer Fans*

In a very weird way, I believe this loss can be a good thing for Federer in the long run(stay with me here folks):

We all know Fed was gonna get KILLED By nadal in the final if he made it, so now that he can avoid that and not allow nadal into his head, I think that Federer can go into another Federer-Nadal final at Wimbledon without having an unpleasant memory of the French ringing in his ear
Maybe this loss will HELP Federer win Wimbledon this year and beat Nadal...

Posted by Forehand Shanker 06/01/2010 at 04:12 PM

Again it seems you made a hash analyzing the match statistics which is there for all to see. Don't use your gut instinct when doing statistical analysis.

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/scores/stats/day15/1121ms.html

In all the categories, it's fairly even except one. The difference was not Soderling's big hitting which was a necessary but insufficient condition for him to win. The difference was that Soderling returned better by breaking Federer more frequently.

BTW, the Forced Error ratio would favor Federer: 54 to 33, since Total Points = Winners + UFE + FE.

Posted by Mike 06/01/2010 at 04:12 PM

Anything can happen between now and Friday ... the level these guys are at, if one catches fire and the other has a bad day ... anything can happen. But it's believing you can win paired with the ability that gets it done. Sod is probably the only one left that thinks and knows he can beat Rafa ... should be every interesting between now and Sunday.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/01/2010 at 04:12 PM

I think, to see a player like Roger lose one match, does NOT mean that he has lost his aura.

It will be firmly back in place at Wimbledon, right where it belongs.

Posted by vetmama 06/01/2010 at 04:14 PM

Hey guys, I'm not saying it's a given that Soderling would beat Nadal if they meet in the finals.
Rafa is the KofC, after all.

But Soderling is the dude that has a decent chance.
And the fact that he knows it's possible for him (been there, done that) makes him extremememememely dangerous.

Posted by Mike 06/01/2010 at 04:14 PM

OOps ... almost forgot Nole was still in there. I should have said 'on clay'. ;)

Posted by FoT 06/01/2010 at 04:15 PM

MsChoy, wasn't it Kuerton that Roger lost too before the streak started? Anyway...

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.

Posted by Fangorina 06/01/2010 at 04:16 PM

WOW! True commiserations to Roger fans today. Even though I am now a Rafa fan,I was pulling for Rog, and expected him to pull out the match. Since my first fan loyalty is to Pete Sampras, I am happy to think Pete's weeks and number one record may be safe for now, but I also remember how awful it felt when Pete turned 28 and all those "no more aura" and "a step slower" stories inundated the tennis world. Congrats to the Sod-ster and his fans.

Posted by CL 06/01/2010 at 04:16 PM

vetmama- yeah, with you there. If Robin gets past Byrdy, and unless his leg is really bothering him or his level drops significantly, I think he will, for sure he has a chance against Rafa. As you said, he know he can do it, because he has done it. And not just a RG. It actually has the potential to be a great match. If they both get there, I hope it lives up to that potential.

Posted by Link 06/01/2010 at 04:17 PM

@Mike

That's happening a lot, I've noticed. Poor Djokovic is getting left out of most final discussions, and then added in as an afterthought.

Posted by Jamie 06/01/2010 at 04:17 PM

IT was amazing!
Soderling had nothing to lose, and he lost nothing!
the game was intense, and if Federer normally showed emotion, he would have gone berserk!
I hope he can keep it up and beat Nadal too!
We need another shocker grand slam winner to shake things up a little.

Posted by charlie 06/01/2010 at 04:17 PM

Federer is going to have on monday 8390 points for sure.

Nadal has right now 7240 points.
If he wins tomorrow he would have 7600 points.
If he wins a semifinal match he would have 8080 points.
Finally, if he wins the whole tournament, he would have 8880 points next monday

If my maths are ok...

Posted by MsChoy 06/01/2010 at 04:18 PM

@ link: thnx for the memory jog! (hangover from the loss still)

At least the 23 semi streak is getting the well deserved media attention! (overdue!)

Posted by vetmama 06/01/2010 at 04:19 PM

A little off-topic:

Has anyone seen the new Shrek movie?

I took my little girlies to see it and almost split out my popcorn when Puss-In-Boots (voiced by Spanish Antonio Banderas) said:

"That's ridonculos!!"

Posted by Rob 06/01/2010 at 04:22 PM

Fangorina - As a Sampras fan, I remember those painful times too. And for a long time, my not supporting Fed was because Pete's records were being wiped away. Finally I realized that Fed is the best ever ... as much as my immature side would like for Pete's record to stand, the fact is, Fed deserves it.

Posted by vetmama 06/01/2010 at 04:22 PM

obviously, "split" should be "spit"...

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 04:24 PM

To Roger, you took Robin for granted and just assumed you would roll over him and it would be you and Rafa. Big mistake, just ask Rafa. Kom igen, Robin. You have made all of Sweden proud to call you a native son. Swedish tennis is back with one of the biggest upset in tennis history.

Posted by vetmama 06/01/2010 at 04:24 PM

CL

I agree, it's ALL GRANT'S FAULT!!!

*looks around for a projectile*

Posted by Kombo 06/01/2010 at 04:25 PM

"Rafa sees Soderling coming. He'll be ready."

just like he was ready last year, no?

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 04:25 PM

The look on Roger's face says it all: Total shock and OMG, he beat me!

Posted by M. E. G. 06/01/2010 at 04:25 PM

Clearly, if Soderling and Nadal reach the final, Rafa will have to make the big Swede move around on the court. I thought Federer did a very good job of that in the opening set today. Nadal's team has maintained that his knees cost him last year's title; soon, it may prove put up or shut up time. The problem for Rafa is that Soderling played better today than he did against Nadal last year; he took three consecutive sets off Fed in a Slam. The key will be the first set (if the two play); unlike TMF, Nadal does not lose GS matches when he wins the opening set. Last year Soderling pummeled him 6-2, which gave him the confidence to move past a poor second-set breaker.

You beat the best with power, and Soderling has incredible strength to hit those shoulder-high rockets. Of course, the conditions definitely helped him today.

Berdych could defeat Soderling, and the former is likely very happy not to see the GOAT in the semis. Soderling now has the consistency his game has lacked for so long. And I believe it all started against Rafa in their 2007 Wimbledon match.

Posted by FoT 06/01/2010 at 04:26 PM

1 June 2010

THE FRENCH OPEN Paris, France

R. SODERLING/R. Federer

3‑6, 6‑3, 7‑5, 6‑4

An interview with:

ROGER FEDERER

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?

ROGER FEDERER: Yes.

Q. Who?

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

visit our archives at asapsports.com


The rest of the interview is at the website

Posted by CL/TMF 16 & Counting 06/01/2010 at 04:27 PM

FoT -thanks for the word on the presser...sorry I missed it. Sounds like Fed will soldier on despite being, you know, too old, too tame, too unemotional, too weak, too slow, too rich, etc., etc., etc.,

Good for him and good for tennis.

Posted by Link 06/01/2010 at 04:28 PM

@SamE

I don't know what others think, but I highly doubt Federer takes matches like this 'for granted'.

Enjoy Soderling's victory, he deserved it; but Federer doesn't expect anyone to roll over for him, especially in a Slam.

Posted by mayer 06/01/2010 at 04:29 PM

I agree Soderling has a chance to beat Nadal in the final if they both make it there. But I also agree with comments noting that Nadal has a tendency to figure out the hard hitters who can beat him and I think the same will be true for Soderling, especially in a match on clay. I also really do believe that Rafa was playing hurt last year when he played Soderling, he was not himself (nor was he himself in Madrid when Roger beat him in the run up to the French). So while I think it will be a very tense match and could go to five sets, I have to favor Rafa in a final against Soderling. But Rafa has two very tough matches to get to that point.

Posted by Heidi 06/01/2010 at 04:31 PM

Le sigh. Oh well, the streak had to end someday, and if this is Fed's post-baby slump, I'm sure all of us can deal! Congrats to Soderling. I hope he can get to the final again. A Nadal-Soderling final would be something to see.

Posted by CherryNYC 06/01/2010 at 04:31 PM

Thank you FoT!!! Fed seems OK. Good. Now spend the rest of the week playing with the kids and then get your grass court shoes out.

Posted by Link 06/01/2010 at 04:32 PM

Nice of Fed to remind them that Del Potro's still around. And still very young.

Posted by Caroline 06/01/2010 at 04:35 PM

Samantha Elin, it is a good thing that you are very young. I hope that you will learn more about people and life.

Posted by Mike 06/01/2010 at 04:35 PM

Sorry, RR ... I don't believe we would have seen a repeat of RG 08 if Fed had made it to the final to face Rafa. Fed isn't 100%, but Rafa is not nearly as untouchable, IMHO, as he was back then. It would have been like Madrid, most likely. That's another reason I believe Sod will give him even more trouble if they both make it to Sunday ... Rafa has been getting broken, second guessing himself, and showing negative body language a lot more this year than in 08.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 04:36 PM

Sweden is such a small country with a great love for tennis. Borg, Enberg, Mats were way before my time, so hard for me to relate to them. Robin represents a new generation of mighty players that will come. I hope this will be the start of many good players to come out of Scandinavia. Caro has made it to the final and quarter finals of a slam. She is the only teen in the top 25, the only to have won 7 titles. So tennis in Scandinavia is on the rise. We now have a top female and male player and this is only the start. Robin was so pumped up and there was absolutely no fear. I hope Rafa takes him for granted again and gets a big surprise again. Kom igen, Robin!

Posted by CL/TMF 16 & Counting 06/01/2010 at 04:37 PM

SamE - really you should really try reading..or at least thinking before you post. Roger never takes anyone for "granted" - from the least to the first. He is too smart for that. And he says in his presser that though he was confident...do you wan't him to say he WASN'T...he had a 12/0 record and all those things called GSs to help his confidence..but he "respects everyone." And everyone includes Robin. He gives all sorts of major props to Robin's game. It really is amazing that your FIRST post here today is NOT to celebrate Robin's well deserved victory but to try and demean Roger. And in so doing, you only end up demeaning yourself. But, what else is new?

Posted by manuelsantanafan 06/01/2010 at 04:37 PM

"More and more, it looks as if Federer is not really playing to win, the way a Soderling is in these upward arcing days of his career.

It seems that Federer is playing not to lose. He's doing a fair job of that, hanging in, fending off, snarling and snapping like a captive wolf in a cage. But Federer doesn't seem to seek the freedom represented by victory, or triumph over his captors and adversaries. He doesn't appear to want to attack, break through, run like the wind and distance himself from his tormentors."
_________________________

What?

Sounds like pop psychobabble to me.

I suspect that Federer experts can find certain technical areas where Federer has declined somewhat (some are mentioning footwork) that gave Soderling, who was playing very well, the edge today.

I suspect that Federer has a few more majors wins in him and we'll be seeing him in several more majors semis and finals.

As others have said, the 23 majors semis in a row is the one Federer record that will likely never be broken.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/01/2010 at 04:38 PM

Federer press conference. Disappointed but not devastated by the loss

http://tinyurl.com/25tfk98

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/01/2010 at 04:39 PM

@SamE, for someone whose player got owned by a 30 year old woman, one would have thought you would display a little more compassion. Clearly, that is not in your reportoire.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 04:40 PM

Wrong CL, this isn't my first post, I posted earlier to congrats Robin as soon as I got out of class and check the score.

Posted by Master Ace 06/01/2010 at 04:43 PM

Samantha Elin,
Roger did not overlook Robin today. Robin played his game today and won. Now, will Robin be able to complete the job and win the title?(wanted to put my favorite line but not appropriate in this thread right now)

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 04:43 PM

Karen, I haven't said anything wrong, I feel Roger felt that Robin had never beat him and this would be easy match for him, but that didn't occur. Sorry, but the look on Roger's face is one of total surprise. And CL, you always insult my post but it doesn't bother me in the least bit because I'm just so thrill with Robin. My commiseration for the Roger fans, but I'm not going to contain my joy.

Posted by CL/TMF 16 & Counting 06/01/2010 at 04:46 PM

Wrong, yet oh so right.

I wonder if I can get a Two-fer at the Missile Store? Traitor Seeking/Pocket Calculator Model 4791 with Puppy Vomit Nose cone, as well as a Miss Manners Instruction Guide w/Shock Collar Detailing.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 04:49 PM

Karen, Caro wasn't owned, she was injured and has been for a while. All credit to Frannie, she was the better player.

Posted by Chandrika 06/01/2010 at 04:50 PM

I am a great Federer fan but I think Soderling truly deserved this win.He played some great tennis and was clearly able to put pressure on Federer in the second half part of the game.Some great shots by Soderling on long rallies too.Federer's today, couldn't play his game because Soderling didn't allow him to.I think Federer needs to become a little more agressive in his game now.But all said,I am sure he will come back with some great tennis and will be able to defend his Wimbledon title.All the best Roger!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 04:51 PM

Again, sorry to the Roger fans, but this is a great moment for Swedish tennis. We have waited a long time for a great champion and now people know Robin can win a slam and just wait until he does it.

Posted by Rafalicious 06/01/2010 at 04:52 PM

"I hope Rafa takes him for granted again and gets a big surprise again. Kom igen, Robin!"

AGAIN? WTH are you talking about? Rafa has never taken Sod for granted and has stated how dangerous he can be......in fact, Rafa has been around long enough to know you can't take any player for granted on any given day.

Posted by Fern 06/01/2010 at 04:52 PM

SamE, congrats to Robin, he played great today and deserved his win, but if Fed took players for granted he would never have won 16 slams. Robin was gracious in his post-match interview, the same with Roger in his presser.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/01/2010 at 04:52 PM

Nowhere in that press conference or in the pre match press conferences has Roger ever taken Robin for granted. He has always said that Robin is a dangerous player and even though he has never beaten him the matches have always been close. I do not know what more you wanted him to say apart from that.

A player who clearly took someone for granted today was Wozniacki. Clearly, she must have felt that as Schiavone had not won more than 2 titles, never made it to the semifinals of a major and was really old, it would be a walk in the park. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Sometimes a player wins and sometimes they lose. Today, Roger lost and Wozniacki as welll. No shame in that.

As 2 of my faves are out of the singles, I have one last chance to get up early on Saturday morning for women's singles finals or as it now looks I may just end up cheering from the sidelines in doubles.

Posted by CL/TMF 16 & Counting 06/01/2010 at 04:53 PM

SamE - I rarely waste the bandwidth to insult your posts. Most of your posts are so vapid and mean spirited that insulting them is redundant. For the most part, they ARE an insult to the smarter, wiser, funnier, more insightful and thoughtful posts and posters which are part of TW.... deficiencies which can no longer be put down to the inexperience of youth. What are you, like, 30 by now?

I really do hope Robin wins it all. Despite you.

Posted by Sherlock 06/01/2010 at 04:53 PM

"Caro wasn't owned, she was injured and has been for a while."

Huh. Looked to me like she was running around like a jackrabbit. :)

But of course, Vika was fair game when she couldn't move and had to retire, eh?

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 04:55 PM

the hater bus seems very late
I'm starting to worry...

Posted by FoT 06/01/2010 at 04:56 PM

Samantha talks about Sweden being so small and now they have Cara and Robin. Heck, isn't Sweden bigger than Switzerland? lol!

But anyway... yes, Robin is coming of age and hopefully he'll kee his form up for the remaining of the tournament.

Posted by Caroline 06/01/2010 at 04:56 PM

I have never engaged with you before Samantha Elin because I have felt sympathetic to the difficulties you have suffered in your life and you have been indulged by many others here. However there is a statute of limitation on everything. I strongly suggest you go away and have a long hard look at yourself. But perhaps you are incapable of it.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/01/2010 at 04:56 PM

@SamE, did you watch the match? She was owned. She was not injured. She was embarrassed out there and the score does not really reflect what happened out there. She had the commentators stunned. They could not believe what they were seeing. The No. 3 player in the world getting completely outplayed by a journeywoman who only has 2 titles to her name. Caro was slamming racquets and cursing and everything. It was pitiful to watch.

Posted by TennisFan2 06/01/2010 at 04:58 PM

Commies Fed fans - your man has an unbelievable record of SF appearances - take heart in that.

While I am sure Rafa is taking the one match a time strategy I sincerely hope that Uncle Tony is developing a Sod-plan...If Rafa and Soderling do meet in the final I fully expect Rafa will bring his A game for the title - he will not lose to Soderling in Paris a second time.

A bit nervous about the fan situation though...

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/01/2010 at 04:58 PM

"We have waited a long time for a great champion and now people know Robin can win a slam and just wait until he does it."

Err, why don't you ask any Brit about that kind of thinking? LOL!

Posted by Pspace (Vamos Rafa and Ajde Glitter Queen!) 06/01/2010 at 04:58 PM

Well, I guess Federer saw it the same way as Soderling. C'est la vie. Too good. If I'm Severing Luthi, I have Fed practicing half-volleys till the cows come home. It's a happy-sad moment to see The Streak come to an end.

Anyway, there's still the business end of the tournament to be played. I hope Rafa can get his revenge.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 04:59 PM

You're far to kind CL. Wow such venom. CL, there is a difference between what we say about player and what we say about each other. You might want to learn that difference. One is allowed, the other is not. Because you disagree with my opinion on players, doesn't give you the right for personal insults. I haven't insulted you.Tone it down!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:04 PM

Again, let's leave out the personal attacks and agree to disagree on our opinions on player. I think that when you have beat someone that many time, you may think it will be easier playing them. Sorry, I don't feel this is a crime against humanity to say this. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. It's just an opinion.

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 05:08 PM

one measly fight breaking out

yet still I feel tonight it could be so much more... a mêlée, running battles, the outbreak of hostilities leading to open blog warfare

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:09 PM

My final word on the match: Congrats to Robin, commiss to Roger and his fans. Again, let's advoid the personal attacks and stick to talking about the players. Thanks.

Posted by Caroline 06/01/2010 at 05:10 PM

Samantha Elin, you are skating on very thin ice. "there is a difference between what we say about player and what we say about each other." There is no difference because what we say about players reflects the respect in which we hold other posters. I am an out and out Fed fan but I would never insult Rafa, or any other player, because I know how much it would hurt and offend his fans. What you have said about Roger is uninformed rubbish but you don't care. You should care because if you don't the only person who will suffer is you.

Posted by Rosangel 06/01/2010 at 05:10 PM

Well, I didn't watch the scores on this one. When I saw the headlines at the end of the workday, I thought TW might be going into some kind of meltdown. Can't log in at work, but belated commiserations to all those hoping for the opposite result. And congratulations to Sod fans.

Funny, but I expected to see Pete's reflections on what happened last year, what happened this year, and how sometimes a player can really, really feel good in a place where he knows he has pulled off something surprising and career-changing before.

And heck, it seems that the sodfire all began with the 6-1, 6-0 defeat Rafa handed him in Rome last year, looking utterly determined to get that second-set bagel just for the hell of it. Maybe Sod told himself he would never be humiliated in that way again.

Who the heck is this Jorge Nadal character who appears when you type in 'Nadal' on the ATP website, BTW?

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