Ex-professional tennis player and two-time French Open finalist, Robin Soderling, hopes Rafael Nadal’s dominance at the French Open finally comes to an end this year.
The former world No. 4, 30, said he has grown sick of having to recount his fourth round victory over Nadal at the 2009 Roland Garros and thus, will be happy if other players could capitalise on the 28-year-old’s dip in form on his favourite claycourts in the second Grand Slam of the year slated for this weekend.
That defeat remains Nadal’s only flop in 67 matches at the French Open, stretching back to his debut triumph in 2005, with the Marjocan raking in a record nine titles all through.
Soderling went on to reach the final, losing to Switzerland’s Roger Federer. Nadal would however go on to exert revenge on Soderling the following year, when the Swede also made the last two on Court Philippe Chatrier.
“It says a lot more about Rafa than it does about me,” Soderling, in an interview in the Daily Telegraph, said of his unique place in French Open folklore.
“It will never happen again, not in 100 years.
“It’s good to be the only one, but everybody is asking me about only that match. I am really proud of other things in my career: being in the top five, reaching the final of a grand slam twice. I’m actually even more proud of making it to the French Open final in 2010 than the previous year.
“So maybe it’s better if Rafa loses again, then everybody will stop asking me about it.”
Successive claycourt defeats- most recently at the expense of Stanislas Wawrinka in the last-8 of the Rome Masters after previously losing to British No. 1 Andy Murray in his native Madrid- suggests No. 7ranked King Nadal’s domination on clay may be nearing its end.
World number one, Novak Djokovic, fresh from winning the Rome Masters is favourite to claim his first French Open title, which will see the Serb complete a career Grand Slam.
“This year, for the first time in a long time, Rafa is not the favorite,” said Soderling whose career has been stalled by bouts of illness.
“Of course, it’s going to be tough to beat Rafa at Roland Garros, over five sets on clay. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened.”