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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 Mike 06/01/2010 at 05:13 PM

Funny ... the only tennis event as marketable as a Fedal RG GS final, due to last year's results ... would be a Sodal RG GS final. We still have a shot at the latter. Though I'm still somber over Fed's loss, if it IS a Sodal final ... we're in for one heckuva popcorn match, methinks. ;)

Posted by Rosangel 06/01/2010 at 05:14 PM

And - not that it will comfort anyone right now, but I suspect Federer still has some kind of otherwordly Slam QF streak going.....Andrew, where are you when you're needed with that stat?

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/01/2010 at 05:14 PM

Key moment of the match: set point Fed, Sod serving at 4-5, 30-40, in the third. Fed makes a TMF get in the deep corner (almost hits a clean winner off said get) and Sod manages to make a tough, stabbing BHOH to put things back at Deuce. The next game, the rain came. When play resumed Fed quickly squandered his service game, and the rest was (literally) history.

Posted by first ("Caro may be a golden retriever but she is still a dog" 06/01/2010 at 05:15 PM

I am so glad that Caro has been put out of her misery. Can someone do the same to some of her fans?

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:15 PM

Caroline, with all due respect, let me direct you to TW rules which allow for frank and candid opinions about player, but there are clear TW rules against personal insults to fellow poster. This blog allows for frank and candid post on player, it doesn't allow for perswonal attacks based on the fact that you may disagree with my opinion. Please feel free to verify what I have said with the moderator. So yeah, there is a difference.

Posted by first ("Caro may be a golden retriever but she is still a dog") 06/01/2010 at 05:17 PM

I like the sound of Naderling final better than the sound of Sodol

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:18 PM

Caroline, the TW rules which I have stated you can find in the archive section. Please review those to verify what I have said. Thank you. I'm watching the match now, and it's so exciting.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:20 PM

I'm curious why people think Robin won. I have only seen the end of it. Thanks.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/01/2010 at 05:20 PM

SamE,

Federer said yesterday itself that Soderling was a dangerous opponent and not one to be underestimated.

I don't think his look is that of surprise...he must have known in the match that it was sometime coming...

So, I don't agree with your statement that Roger felt Robin can never beat him and had a look of surprise on his face??? I didn't see the look of surprise...mostly disappointment.

Posted by weak4.0player 06/01/2010 at 05:20 PM

So many folks already assuming a Fed-Rafa final at Wimbledon. Haven't you learned by now to let them play the matches.

How long since we've had a Fedal at a major? I'll be surprised if both Fed and Nadal make the W final. I won't be shocked if neither does.

Posted by Mike 06/01/2010 at 05:21 PM

Would be ironic if somehow Nole was able to take out Rafa in the semis to deny Rafa the title and the #1 spot, considering that Nole had a shot at #1 if Fed had not made the quarters.

Posted by Pspace (Vamos Rafa and Ajde Glitter Queen!) 06/01/2010 at 05:21 PM

Rosangel, The QF streak is now 24 :-). Fed last lost in 4th round in RG '04. Still, QF doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Posted by Caroline 06/01/2010 at 05:21 PM

Samantha Elin, nobody has insulted you. Older, wiser and kinder heads than yours have set out a few home truths that you would do well to heed.

Posted by Sherlock 06/01/2010 at 05:22 PM

Samantha, I think you missed Caroline's point.

ActionFlunky, pretty amazing how one or two points here and there can completely swing a match. A frustrating game in that regard.

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 05:22 PM

if words are weapons there's a lot of rubber knives and plastic machine guns being brandished. The 'rat-a-tat' sound is all talk and no trousers I'm afraid. Must be some kind of blunt instrument in the cupboard of our minds?

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:22 PM

"I have never lost a match to him so that is good to have"Roger Federer.

Posted by Moderator 06/01/2010 at 05:25 PM

Caroline
It's against the site rules to berate other posters. It is not against the site rules for a poster to say stuff about a player as long as it is not calculated to incite.

Samantha Elin
Please give some thought about not saying things that may end up looking as though you are baiting other posters, even if it is not your intention.

Please, let's all move on.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/01/2010 at 05:25 PM

Samantha,

The whole quote is:

" I've never lost against him, so obviously that's a good record to have. But because of the improvements he's made, he's an opponent not to underestimate.
Obviously he beat incredible players on the way to make the finals here last year, so clay seems to also become really his surface of preference, as well."

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:25 PM

LadyJulia, I appreciated the way you disagreed with me, you presented your argument without the need to get personal. It's very appreciated. Thanks. Right Sherlock.

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 05:26 PM

Djokovych final?

Posted by first ("Caro may be a golden retriever but she is still a dog") 06/01/2010 at 05:27 PM

Here is what Francesca Schiavone said

"Q. It seemed like you were aggressive. Was it part of the tactics to attack her a lot?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: Yes. If you play just in defense, it's not I think you can't win against nobody.
So I tried to serve good and to put pressure a lot with the forehand, and it was good."

Hope Caro the GR can learn a things or two :-)

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:29 PM

Thank you moderator for citing the site rules which I talked about and yes I will take your suggestion. I was just very excited and Roger quote bothered me a little. Again, thanks for taking care of it.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/01/2010 at 05:29 PM

Anyway, SamE...congrats for the Robin win..he played extremely well. Federer said the same thing in his post-match presser.

Posted by Kombo 06/01/2010 at 05:29 PM

Mayer - "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"

This is debatable, he's reversed losing records against some players, but Delpo beat him the last three times they played having lost all the previous matches, and Sodes will know he has the tools to beat the guy.

If they play, the rallies will depend on the conditions on the day. Heavy conditions and lower-bounces will favor Soderling as he won't be forced back by high-bouncing super-moonballs. Continued great serving could also help Soderling avoid getting into a track meet. You know Sodes will be aggressive, that's how he plays, it's up to the other guy to keep his shots deep regardless of the pace. Any short stuff just gets put away.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:31 PM

Ladyjulia, thanks for posting the entire quote. It does make a difference, ESPN left out the latter part of the quote. I guess the media likes to stir up things. Again, thanks for the way you handled it.

Posted by johnny blaze 06/01/2010 at 05:31 PM

nadal has had to play federer in each of his GS wins,either in the semis(RG '05) or final in all the others.i dunno if its some kinda prerequisite for him to win a GS or something. will he do it now with federer out???

Posted by Kombo 06/01/2010 at 05:33 PM

You're wrong Samantha. Roger didn't take this win for granted. He's played Soderling and he's more aware than most people that Soderling had been getting closer and closer to beating him the last few times. Don't over-analyze a picture in such a self-fulfilling way. The guy just looked disappointed because he lost, everyone looks disappointed when they lose.

Posted by Sherlock 06/01/2010 at 05:35 PM

"but Delpo beat him the last three times they played having lost all the previous matches"

Rafa's just setting Delpo up for the big turnaround. I wish. :)

I just hope Sod and Rafa both get to the final.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:36 PM

In seeing the latter part of the quote which I didn't have, I would agree that he probably didn't take Robin for granted. Again, thanks, LadyJulia for the way you handled it.

Posted by Nam1 06/01/2010 at 05:37 PM

I dont think Roger Federer reached 23 consecutive GS semi finals and has 16 GS by taking anyone for granted...but I see that has been settled; after the whole afternoon of Fed fans, Rafa fans and FOOPs being decent to each other , why do some people have to rub it in?

Posted by Christopher 06/01/2010 at 05:38 PM

Samantha-- I think both of the following are true: 1) Federer has always had a great deal of respect for Soderling's game and lately considered him a highly dangerous opponent and 2) Federer expected to win today.

How could Federer not like his chances against someone he's beaten the last 12 times? At the same time, he's said more positive things about Soderling's game than has anyone else on the tour, as far as I can tell.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:39 PM

Can Robin win a slam. Yes, he has beat all the top player now and I would love to see it. He definetly has the game to be a GS champion.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/01/2010 at 05:40 PM

no probs SamE!

I'd say Soderling has a good chance of defeating Berdych...he defeated Gonzo last year in 5 sets...he seems very calm and focused.

I think though in the final, I'd give the edge to Rafa..conditions might make it different though..but I'd still put my money on the 4 time champ.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 06/01/2010 at 05:40 PM

The fact that the Ent has beat Rafa the last three times they've played doesn't tell me much, in light of the fact that Rafa was far from his physical best the last two times they played.

That said, when the Ent is at or near the top of his game on HCs, I would expect him to beat Rafa more often than not.

As far as Djokovich, I believe he has a better best two out of three sets HC game than does Rafa, day in and day out, if their past matches are a good predictor.

I'd say the same for Davydenko. And Cilic has the potential to join that group.

Best three out of five sets, of course, is a different story.

Posted by crazyone 06/01/2010 at 05:42 PM

It hasn't even been 10 years since Sweden won a grand slam on the men's side. It's not really a drought. Ask the French or the British...

Posted by Rosangel 06/01/2010 at 05:43 PM

Pspace: has any other man in the history of Grand Slam tennis ever even had 24 straight QFs? I don't know what the stas are there, but even the Fourth Round Club (i.e. the list of men who have made 4R or better at all Slams) is pretty exclusive, let alone the QF club, let alone 24 straight times.

Watching Wozniacki and Schiavone. Congrats to Schiavone fans and commiserations to Wozniacki supporters. Caro has been doing a charming video-blog for Eurosport during this RG - yesterday her brother was on it. I like both players - would have been happy for either to win, but I'm recalling how long it took for Schiavone to even win her first tournament a couple of years back - seems she has come a long way since then.

Posted by observer 06/01/2010 at 05:43 PM

I've felt this way for a while, but it's definitely final now--I need to stop reading and participating in these comments because it's messing with how I see players / who I want to win matches, and for no reason. I used to love Wozniacki and have never liked Schiavone, but I found myself relishing the beating Schiavone imparted on Caro. I liked Soderling for beating Rafa and allowing Federer to win a French Open, and I still had no problem with Soderling after he beat Roger today, but while reading this thread I found myself hoping Rafa beats him in the final. I could go on with examples of other players, but I won't...

It's been fun and there are actually some genuinely reasonable and insightful people/comments here, but-- no más.

Posted by Kombo 06/01/2010 at 05:43 PM

At this point, I want Soderling to win the tournament. Much like Delpo winning last year's USO, it would further dissolve Fedal and add another credentialed contender into these grand slam discussions.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/01/2010 at 05:44 PM

Vetmama: i agree with your earlier post that Sod is going to be ferocious if he meets rafa in the final 'cus he's done this before. But i'm hoping Rafa is super hungry to beat Robin and get his revenge. And we all know how brutal Rafa can be, so bring on the match of all matches sunday!!! I just hope Berdy, Nico or Nole don't have any other ideas :) and Jurgen? whatev.

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 05:46 PM

Brits love our people to lose. It keeps things easy and the humour rolling. Winning would be too confusing for our sense of self, we wouldn't know what to do with it, we'd overdo it like in hot weather and end up with sunburn and a hangover before it even got dark

Posted by FoT 06/01/2010 at 05:46 PM

The only thing I don't like is that now if I watch ESPN2 or Tennis Channel, I'll have to watch Roger's match for maybe 5 more times today! lol! When he wins, it's hard to find his entire match...but not the losses! lol! Oh well... When does Halle start? lol!

Seriously though, I think we have (other than Djokovic - and no offense to his fans) - the players who have been playing the best left in the tournament. To Novak's credit, he's found a way to win - ugly - but he has continued to win. Rafa will be Rafa on clay; Soderling & Berdych both have been on fire in this tournament. Almagro has been on fire the entire clay season. Then....a surprise in Melzer. But he survived his draw so good for him.

It should still be an interesting weekend. I still fully expect Nadal to hold up the trophy but hopefully either Berdych or Soderling can give him a fight and it won't be one-sided. But we will see.

Good luck to Serena tomorrow!

Posted by Caroline 06/01/2010 at 05:50 PM

"Talk inevitably turned to the loss of his consecutive semi-final streak and also, potentially, the No.1 spot – if Nadal wins the tournament, then he will depose Federer one agonising week short of equalling Peter Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at the top of the rankings. “They all come to an end at some stage. You hope they don't happen, but they do. It was a great run. Now I've got the quarterfinal streak going I guess,” he said, flashing a rare smile. “As far as the No.l ranking is concerned, it’s in (Nadal’s) hands now. Things change really quickly. I won’t be following the rest of the tournament and hoping that Nadal doesn’t win just so that I stay on top. The best player should win, and he’s the best at the moment.”

From the RG website

Posted by mayer 06/01/2010 at 05:51 PM

Kombo: No doubt the rule might not apply to DelP, he's a hell of a player and I have no predications about how his eventual head to head with Rafa will look, it's hard not to believe he will have the better of Rafa at least on hard courts if not clay. But I don't think Sod is as good as Del Potro, I really don't. Though I hear you about conditions, and the forecast for this weekend is mixed.

Posted by Well Left 06/01/2010 at 05:51 PM

Robin is hot enough right now to win two slams by the fourth of July. It was sick the way he put TMF on his heels, forcing error after error on the inside-out forehand (Fed's get out of 2 sets down 'jail' last year against Haas).
His second serve was in Sampras range (115-125mph). Should translate well on grass, let's see if he can redline his game for the rest of the week and then the rest of the month...

Posted by Pspace (Vamos Rafa and Ajde Glitter Queen!) 06/01/2010 at 05:51 PM

Rosangel, to my knowledge no. Lendl has a streak of 30 consecutive slams with 4R or better (USO '82 to Oz '90). Oz was not held in 1986. The streak may be even longer if you give him a pass for being absent at slams.

Posted by Kombo 06/01/2010 at 05:52 PM

Let's call a moratorium on 'injury cards' for Rafa please. Not to sound callous, but it's his own fault his kness get so banged up. Roddick said as much once, something to the tune of, 'as he's grinding others down, he's grinding himself down too, eventually it will take its toll.' Has Rafa EVER lost a match for any reason other than injury? It seems like that's the habitual reason fans have for his losses. If you can't win due to injury, don't play. The fact that you come out to play means you believe you can beat the other guy in your current condition.

sigh

Posted by CL/TMF 16 & Counting 06/01/2010 at 05:54 PM

Ah, Samantha- I guess '11' was closer to the mark. The actual difference is - pay attention now - what we say about a person's POSTS as opposed to what we say about the POSTER themselves. For instance, I can say that many of your POSTS are mean spirited and lacking in grace, humility, and insight. As long as I DON'T say YOU are mean spirited, lacking in grace, humility and insight. Post/Poster. Clear now?

Caroline - forget it...which is what I am about to do. Many a poster has banged their frustrations against the blinding insensitivity and hypocrisy that are the whingey posts from the Scandinavian Oz.

Go Rockin Robin! Burdened though you may be by some of your fans!

Ros - how sweet..nothing like a Federer loss to bring you back to us!

Posted by Geellis 06/01/2010 at 05:54 PM

Not only right b4 the match, but after the loss of the first set, I called Soderling to win this match. I'm not a Soderling fan (I dislike him in the extreme cause of his treatment/defeat of my favorite, Nadal). But I really felt that he had a better chance to hit through the conditions than did Federer. I've got to say, if he does meet Nadal in such heavy conditions, it will be tough for Nadal as well. The kryptonite for Nadal/Federer or any other player on clay (or any surface) is "controlled power". That will win almost every time. Therefore, for those, like myself, who are real Nadal fans, let's hope that Soderling loses to the big hitting Berdych. I prefer Nadal's chances versus Berdych over Soderling.

Posted by johnny blaze 06/01/2010 at 05:56 PM

i'm probably the biggest rafa fan, but i honestly do think soderling will absolutely kill nadal if they are to play in the final on sunday

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/01/2010 at 05:57 PM

Robin is very hot right now but not always consistent. just saying. I posted on the other thread his pretty ho-hum results for this year's clay season. I think he gets up for RG which is great and for playing the big guys like Fed and Rafa. Very happy for "the Lone Wolf" who is now a legendary giant killer.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/01/2010 at 05:57 PM

Well,Rafa didn't come out to play at Wimbie last year ...

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 05:58 PM

Caro reaching the quarters is just so great, I feel good that she went this far with her injury, and Frannie is quite adorable and deserved it. And what another poster writes on a blog has no influence on who I cheer for to win or lose.Never understood that. I cheer for the player I like to win. You know who I wouldn't mine seeing winning is Demmy. She's still the best player to not win a slam and she's starting to be in the twilight of her career. I feel she really has a chance with her draw. Demmy and Serena final would be great.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 06/01/2010 at 05:58 PM

For those who get the Tennis Channel, you might want to watch some of the 1970s WITC matches that TC is cablecasting this week.

You'll get to see why Sue Barker was known as "The Hammer" back then.

You'll get to see Borg get visibly pissed off on court for one of the few times in his career.

You'll get to see Laver in "Lion in Winter" phase.

Additionally, there is a 2001 Fed Cup clay court match between the 29-year old Conchita Martinez (coming back from injury) and Justine Henin, demonstrating how Henin has benefited from playing in a weak clay court era.

Had Henin had to play Roland Garros against in their primes Graf, Seles, Sanchez Vicario, Martinez, Capriati, and Sabatini (all of whom were roaming the WTA in the 1990s), Henin would have been lucky to make the finals at Roland Garros.

Posted by crazyone 06/01/2010 at 05:58 PM

that said, I'd love for Sweden to end its "drought".

Posted by Nam1 06/01/2010 at 05:59 PM

Just watching Robin's interview after the match; he should have auditioned to be an elf in Lord of thh Rings. Definitely elfish..his face not body, I should clarify..
totally Ot i know.

I think after watching him play today in the replay, I will be very surprised if Rafa or Tomas or Nole or Nico or anyone can pull off a win aganst him.

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

CL, let me refer you to what the moderator said. I think she said to move on. Thanks. They are talking about the speed of Robin's ball and he really turned it up. I never knew he could hit this hard.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/01/2010 at 06:02 PM

Geelis: idk, I want to see Rafa face Robin and win! But he has to be prepared to face the same monster that beat him last year and hopefully have the answers. Moonballs won't cut it against Sod, he's going to have to use angles and wicked placement to upset Sod's power game. OTOH, if Berdy takes out Robin it will show that he can't keep this kind of play going consistently.

I've got the match on and pmac and brad and darren are using words like 'blugeon', 'pummel' and 'roundhouse' to describe sod's shots. wowza.

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

It's cool, CL - fact is I barely have time to watch the ATP these days. Won't even have time to watch tomorrow's QFs.

Truth is, I never root for Federer to either win or lose. He's the ATP's most reliable fixture, and that's how it is. Sometimes I watch him, sometimes I don't.

But I do know how many fans he has here, and (to me) this was as startling a loss as Rafa's last year. Lightning doesn't usually strike twice in this narrative.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeee!!!/We gonna see, no?) 06/01/2010 at 06:05 PM

Annie - Saw your comment in the other thread re: Franny. Definitely check out her presser if you haven't already. Positively smile-inducing.

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

Sod may have a secret superiority complax but he doesn't look aloof, wet, or angrily depressed enough to be an LOTR elf

Posted by Sherlock 06/01/2010 at 06:05 PM

Kombo, I think you can see what you want to see in this regard. :)

There are plenty of Rafa fans who have told it like it is over the years, without any injury excuses. Yes, he's brought a lot of it on himself with his scheduling, etc. But some of it is genetics too, so it's certainly not all his fault.

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/01/2010 at 06:06 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."

Sadly this Federite agrees with this statement. Here I was basking in the AO afterglow feeling sorry for the rest of ATP. Then came IW, then Miami, then Rome, then Estoril (ugh!). Then came Madrid and hope.
But this loss is tough man just tough.

I am convinced Soderling has a spoonful of the terre bateau each morning with breakfast. He's been just unstoppable this tournament and today was no different. The dude just stepped up big time, did what he had to do to come away with the W.
All hail the terminator!

Posted by Pierre 06/01/2010 at 06:06 PM

Gravy.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/01/2010 at 06:07 PM

johnny blaze: me too. huge rafa fan. don't sell him short. he's the toughest fighter in the game. I just hope he doesn't start thinking about Robin now, when he's got two more matches to win first.

Posted by Dave 06/01/2010 at 06:08 PM

BIG congrats to Soderling for this victory! He has proven that he has the game and the mental ability to beat the best. For those of you who says Nadal was injured last year when he lost to Robin in RG: I saw the match and Soderling OUTplayed him, it wasn't because Nadal couldn't run or anything like that, Soderlings tennis was just harder and better. He hits and serves among the hardest on the tour, and when he can dictate play with his forehand he is almost unbeatable. Federer is still the best player though.

Soderling has what it takes to win this tournament. Berdych is playing great though and will not be easy, between them I think the one who is most aggressive and serves best will win. Soderling has the mental advantage of playing final here last year so I'm betting on him. Go Sweden!

Posted by Moderator 06/01/2010 at 06:09 PM

CL -
For the record, the rule about berating/lecturing other posters also applies to your last comment to SamE.
Please can we move on.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 06/01/2010 at 06:10 PM

As a Rafa fan, I would love to see a Rafa-Soderling finals. (Of course, Rafa reaching the finals is far from assured, as he would have to beat two potentially tough opponents in the quarters and semis.)

Rafa owns Berdych on clay. I wouldn't expect Berdych to put up much of a fight at Roland Garros, no matter how hot he would be going into a finals match.

Time for Rafa to settle accounts with Soderling on clay. The sooner this task is addressed, the better.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 06:10 PM

Robin is about to serve for the match. I know it only a tape, but it's so thrilling. Kom igen, du er den bedste, Robin, Sweden's No 1. Now an elite player. Wow!!!

Posted by temes 06/01/2010 at 06:12 PM

I believe this is the final sign of the end of Federer's superdominance. Now he will just pick a Slam here and there like any normal human being.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 06:12 PM

Thank you again moderator. I'm watching him serve it out. My grandma in Sweden was watching this and she called me when he won. That how much it means to Sweden.

Posted by Caroline 06/01/2010 at 06:13 PM

CL, I think it's time to go to the bar and share a martini!!!

Posted by Pierre 06/01/2010 at 06:14 PM

And just for the record, if Soderling plays Nadal again this year, Soderling will win. Last year he inflicted a psychic wound on Nadal…did anyone notice that Nadal was out of commission for the rest of the year after their meeting in 2009? That was a traumatic event for Nadal, he eventually went on with his life but the wound is still there.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 06:14 PM

Hi Temes. Robin has match point, I'm watching it now. He done it, he done it. What a thrill. "What a performance from the Swede." P-mac.

Posted by mayer 06/01/2010 at 06:14 PM

I really don't know how saying Rafa was hurt last year at the FO and at Madrid blames all of his losses on injury. I would never say that. But I watched those matches, and he was hurt. I have seen him lose plenty of times when he wasn't.

Posted by AB 06/01/2010 at 06:15 PM

Just re-watched Sam v Justine. I think if that Sam shows up tomorrow, it's going to be a looong wait for Rafa v Nico. Sam really was patient, hit with depth and power, and did not lose faith when she hit a bad shot. Also telling, when she DF'd the 1st match point, it was a "good" DF, i.e. she went for both serves and they were close. This may be the WTA match of the tournament. Can't wait. Serena is going to have to be focused, patient, and serving well. Also, she has got to move her feet. She can look very heavy-footed at times. I hope we get an exciting 3-setter.

Posted by Stewart 06/01/2010 at 06:17 PM

For the record:

THE GIANT KILLER LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES!!! SO excited. But worried my karma may be spent up and now Serena will take out JJ :( What an incredible match. I had to take a nap after the first rain suspension and came back at 3-all in the 4th - so I missed the play resumation and Fed going up a break at 2-0. From then on though Sod was in complete control in the rallies, and only Fed's stellar serve kept him from losing multiple break points.

re: Wozniacki:- she did well to get to the quarters considering the poor results she's had this spring, esp after the nasty ankle injury. As I'm suffering from one myself right now and it's REALLY hampering my excellent movement (track athlete) on court, I could tell Caro was a step or two short, esp on the BH side. However, Schiavone played absolutely lights out, her 1H BH was extremely resilient and her court craft, forcing the rallies to the FH, was brilliant. Beautiful to watch.

re: Russian matchup - so disappointed AGAIN in Petrova - she has the talent to win slams but of all the perenniel bridesmaids only Dinara Safina has had worse collapses. Two slams in a row now Petrova should have made the final but instead choked in the quarters.

Charlie: I LOVE the idea of a Djokovych final, glad someone else is at least considering it. I actually also think a Djokerling (patent pending) final would be amazing - Both amazing hitters from both wings, edge to Sod on offense, Djok on defense. Regardless, as much as I love the Sod, Berdych will be a VERY tough semi opponent, esp. given possible letdown - but Sod has shown he's up to it, fighting from 1-4 down in the 5th last year v. Gonzalez.

PS - the wet conditions I actually still think favoured Federer - low balls handled by Fed better, slows the offense from Sod down. It also works against Nadal, as it severely reduces his kick.

Samantha, perhaps you should play matchmaker and encourage Caro and Robin to have beautiful, hard hitting, mad scrambling Scandi babies?

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/01/2010 at 06:18 PM

Rosangel:

I thought about you this morning, after the Fed match ended. Was wondering where you've been (although I've been away during the non-major portions of the tennis calendar).

I'm hoping Rafa plays - and then thrashes - Sod on Sunday.

I hope you're well!

Posted by Julian 06/01/2010 at 06:18 PM

Can't help but wonder that if Rafa wins RG (hopefully) and regains no.1 Federer will be stuck on 285 and might not get #1 back for a while, considering Rafa has no points to defend at Queens or Wimbledon, and Fed has a Masters and a US Open final with substantial points in the balance.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 06:19 PM

They are interviewing Robin right now. "It feels great to finally win one from Roger. I kept telling myself I could do it. I believed in myself." Robin can do it, all the way to the final.

Posted by Frances 06/01/2010 at 06:19 PM

rosangel!!!

you are posting!!

Posted by Lurking 06/01/2010 at 06:20 PM

One quick post to say congrats to Soderling & fans and commiserations to Roger's.

It's going to be very strange come semifinal Friday not to have Fed in the mix for the first time in 6 years!! That was a monumental feat by the Swiss Maestro.

Of the remaining contenders I would love a Berdych win as unlikely as that may be.

Posted by Nam1 06/01/2010 at 06:20 PM

" That was a traumatic event for Nadal, he eventually went on with his life but the wound is still there."

Please give me a break..like a guy who is the defending champion at Wimbledon is going to withdraw due to a "psychic wound"!!!

Even if he lost in the 4th round again, it would have been worth it to walk out on centre court and Wimbledon and hear the words "defending champion". He was definitely injured and did not want to risk his career by playing any matches.

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 06:21 PM

time for bed on this side of the pond.

I must say I'm disappointed. I remember just swathe upon swathe of epic Troll action in previous years after Rog or Rafa would lose a match. I miss that kind of mincing swash n' buckle - the phrase swipe, the sentence parry and counter, the two word lunge. This wholesome analysis trade is great but all oats and no sherbert make TW a dull thread.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 06:22 PM

Stewart,LOL, but Robin is already engaged to a beautiful Swedish girl. Robin is pumping his fist, smiling and waving at the crowd.

Posted by AB 06/01/2010 at 06:24 PM

Rafa is a strange combo of nervous, hypochondriac and steely focused resolve. Have to disagree with Pierre re the "psychic wound" supposedly inflicted by Smirkling. Rafa had plenty on his mind this time last year. He had not managed his schedule well, and suffered as a result. He does not let a loss tear him down. He's took a pretty good beating from Jo-Willy and came back to wrest Oz from Roger. I don't think he's thinking about anything but how to win tomorrow. The players all say they don't think about anything beyond the next match, but I actually believe Rafa when he says it. One point at a time for him. Then, as AM likes to quote, "We gonna see, no?"

Posted by Rosangel 06/01/2010 at 06:25 PM

temes!

(I have been away from TW too long)

Thanks for the Lendl stat, Pspace.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 06:26 PM

Serena, please win, my last favorite on the women's side.

Posted by Sherlock 06/01/2010 at 06:27 PM

"perhaps you should play matchmaker and encourage Caro and Robin to have beautiful, hard hitting, mad scrambling Scandi babies?"

Hmmm, I don't much about genetics, so which is dominant, the rifle-shot groundstroke gene or the moonballing gene? :)

Posted by temes 06/01/2010 at 06:29 PM

Hey Rosangel! I'm a complete stranger here as well. lol

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me. 06/01/2010 at 06:30 PM

I don't think I'll watch the replay of Caro's match.LOL!

Posted by Rosangel 06/01/2010 at 06:32 PM

And now Matt Zemek!

it is a tragedy that it is so hard for me to log on from work. I miss talking to you all more regularly.

Was just watching Eurosport's daily 'taxi interview', today with the other men's winner today, Tomas Berdych. Asked (as they usually ask) for his favourite female player, he says he can only give one name, his girlfriend, Lucie Safarova:)

Posted by Kombo 06/01/2010 at 06:32 PM

Geelis - "The kryptonite for Nadal/Federer or any other player on clay (or any surface) is "controlled power". That will win almost every time. "

Agreed. A large part of out-rallying the best movers in the game (Rafa, Fed, Murray, Ferrer, etc) is to control the rallies with pace so they can't make the game so dynamic their superior movement wins out.

Annie, - "if Berdy takes out Robin it will show that he can't keep this kind of play going consistently."

I get what you're saying, but I increasingly think of these tennis matches in terms of H2H matchups and current form. They're both playing well, Soderling's probably on an emotional after beating Fed, but Berdych hasn't dropped a set yet, I think. Berdych has a solid 2 handed backhand and more pace on his groundies than Fed does, those could force a few more errors out of Soderling and disrupt his game. I don't expect much neural rallying as both play aggressively. Fed blocks most backhand returns, whereas Berdych often drives through his on both sides. Berdych defends with pace, a little like Delpo. I dunnoo, I expect a close match with a lot of hard hitting, hopefully they don't duff each other up so much the winner is fried for the Final.

I think Sodes has a better chance of beating Rafa because he's done it before and hits his forehand a little harder than Berdych, but mostly because of his attitude and refusal to dance to Rafa's tune, whether it's taking time between points, crossing the net first, or blatantly mocking Rafa's... idiosyncratic behaviors. Sodes makes it clear he's trying to win, not play the role of 2nd fiddle the status quo would have for him. You need something beyond just game to upset the reigning order of things, a sort of defiance, because the best ARE the best for a reason.

Posted by AB 06/01/2010 at 06:33 PM

The men left standing in the ATP draw all have self-belief. Yes, even Meltzer. He's got to like his chances against the Djoker whose huffing, sighing and puffing is starting to remind me of Sampras...and why I did not always enjoy watching him.

Berdy's smile transformed his face today. I hardly recognized him. He will be full of confidence against Smirkling and he's moving well and striking the ball with power. I think they'll match up well and it will be an exciting battle.

Seriously, Robin's win will fill all the wannabes with belief. Maybe it's their turn, too. Why not? Game on.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 06/01/2010 at 06:33 PM

Pierre writes about the "psychic wound" that Soderling allegedly inflicted upon Rafa.

Now we have the "Psychologist/Psychiatrist to the Tennis Stars from Afar" posting on this blog.

This blog has now entered its Golden Age.

Bravo.

Posted by temes 06/01/2010 at 06:33 PM

Hi Samantha! Sorry about Justine and Caro. Quite surprising losses.

Posted by AB 06/01/2010 at 06:36 PM

Sherlock - the Scandis' hypothetical offspring could play baseball and hit moonballs out of the park.

Posted by mayer 06/01/2010 at 06:38 PM

Also pointing out Rafa's injury last year is not a way of saying Sod didn't "really" win the match. It's a way of evaluating its predictive value to the outcome of a potential Rafa-Sod matchup in the final. I can't say I would be surprised if Soderling beat a healthy Rafa this year, all of the guys left are capable of beating each other, but if I had to bet money on it, I would bet on Rafa. But who knows, maybe he'll get taken out by Djoko or Almagro (who played a great first set against him in Madrid), neither of those guys is going to roll over for Rafa. And maybe Sod will get taken out by Berdych, who finally seems to be sustaining his game for entire matches.

Posted by AB 06/01/2010 at 06:38 PM

I think I'll call Novak's on court demeanor, Mope a Dope.

Posted by Charlie 06/01/2010 at 06:40 PM

or is it just that the rivalry, if it even exists anymore, just isn't what it was ?

Rog has his sweet 16, Rafa is the KfC, I mean KofC ...

but then again if Nads takes the no 1 spot it may all flare up again like some wonderful flame of finger-burning fun.

I do hope Wimblebums will bring out the TW night-breed and fairy folk. RG has been a washout as far as I can see. We've been keeping under our rocks and out of the rain.

Posted by Rosangel 06/01/2010 at 06:41 PM

Matt: I have to confess, by the way - there's a hole in the men's semifinals. This year I was sort of hoping for another Federer-Nadal final. Hard to deny the compelling nature of that matchup on any court, tough as it may be for some of us to watch.

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