Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Men Tennis World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has many nicknames - The Matador of Spain, King Of Clay, Rafa, The Spaniard, The Conquistador, Gladiator, etc.
But on Sunday 31st of May, 2009, The Matador of Spain lost to the Matador of Sweden, Robin Soderling in the 4th round of the French Open at the Philip Chartier court.
Virtually unknown Soderling, had done in 3 hours what 13 times Grand Slam titles holder and former world no.1 Roger Federer and the rest of the world top players failed to do in 4 years - that is to defeat Nadal at the Rolland Garros.
Robin Soderling - The Matador of Sweden!!!
Soderling 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 and 7-6 defeat of Nadal is perhaps the greatest upset in the history of the 118 years old tournament.
The other upset being Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 7-6, 3-6, 7-5 defeat of Steffi Graf in the 1989 Women's final. Prior to that match, Graf was the holder of all 4 Grand Slams titles - the 1988 and 1989 Australian Open, 1988 French Open, 1988 Wimbledon and 1988 US Open, plus the 1988 Olympic single Gold medal.
And maybe that Soderling-Nadal match is even greater than Michael Chang triumph in 1989 to become the youngest ever Men's Single Champion at the Rolland Garros, defeating Stefan Edberg.
Perhaps that Soderling-Nadal encounter is even more shocking than Steffi Graf's easy 6-0, 6-0 win over Natalia Zvereva in the 1988 final..!!
Prior to his match against Soderling, Nadal never tasted defeat in the French Open since winnning the title here in 2005. He won the title for the 4th consecutive times with ease and in style, demolishing Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3 and 6-0 in the final last year.
13 times Grand Slam titles winner - Roger Federer
11 times Grand Slam titles winner - 6 French Open and 5 Wimbledon - Bjorn Borg
Nadal dreams of becoming the greatest ever French Open champion is now in tatters. He only equalled the great Bjorn Borg feat of 4 consecutive titles..
Nadal has this bad habit also - he likes to pinch his ass during matches - shown live all over the world!!!
(Nadal can be seen pinching his ass several times during this match - at 1.10, 1.57, 2.25, 3.20, 4.18, 4.39 and 6.04 of this video)
Nadal also loves to eat banana during match breaks - and on one occasion, a piece of banana got stuck in his throat and he was temporarily unable to resume the match!!!
Nadal Banana incident
Will Roger Federer at last win the elusive French Open title this time in 2009?
Federer has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open for a total of 13 times but never the French Open. Federer qualified 3 times in the French Open final in 2006, 2007 and 2008 but each time losing only to Rafael Nadal.
Or will it be Robin Soderling who will be crowned champion of the Rolland Garros in 2009??
Soderling has qualified for the semi final, after dismantling Nikolai Davydenko
6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter final yesterday..
After his epic win against Nadal, Soderling received an SMS from Bjorn Borg -"`Congratulations, and thank you for not letting Nadal break my record,'" Soderling said. "It was very big for me to receive an SMS from him. He's maybe the best player of all time."
A new women's champion will also be crowed, the rusty and inconsistent 2008 champion Ana Ivanoic had been shown the exit by V. Azarenka on Sunday in the 4th round.