Rafael Nadal had seemed undefeatable at the French Open ever since he set foot on Parisian clay four years ago, but the world No 1’s unbeaten 31-match run on these courts was ended by an unheralded Swede who had never previously gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam tournament. By the way Robin Soderling, looks alot like Lucas Scott on “One Tree Hill” in this picture.
The 24-year-old world No 25 beat the Spaniard 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 in arguably the greatest upset in the history of tennis.
For the last year it has been Nadal who has been breaking all the records. His 31 consecutive wins is an all-time record at the French Open, while this defeat ended his run of 48 unbeaten five-set matches on terre battue. The pink shirt he wore will no doubt be similarly consigned to history.
In his 31 previous matches at Roland Garros, Nadal had never been pushed to five sets in victory. He had not lost so much as a set in any match here since the 2007 final against Roger Federer, but Soderling changed all that with a varied but consistently aggressive approach: clubbing forehands with or without clear openings, serving big under pressure.
Perhaps Soderling was motivated by a desire to stop the world No 1’s apparent crusade to erase his fellow Swede, Bjorn Borg, from the clay-court record books. At least one of his records remains intact: Borg won 41 sets in succession at Roland Garros between 1979 and 1981, while Soderling ended Nadal’s sequence at 32.
“I didn’t play my best tennis against Soderling, so it was my fault,” said Nadal, who won the Australian Open earlier this year and Wimbledon last year. “I am not going to make any excuses. It is always tough losing in a slam, especially in one where you have the better chance to win.”
What caused Nadal to lose? Do you think this is the start of his losing streak? Does Soderling look like Lucas Scott to you in this picture?
Here’s a quick clip of the Rafael Nadal vs Robin Soderling French Open match, where Nadal loses.