Grand Slam tennis tournaments have seen Roger Federer reach their semifinals for the last six years. That streak was broken Tuesday morning as Federer was eliminated from the French Open by Robin Soderling. Soderling avenged his 2009 loss to Federer in the final at Roland Garros.
The Swedish born player rallied back from a 3-6 loss of the first set to win the next three sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Federer’s streak was ended at 23 straight Grand Slam semifinal appearances. Last year, Soderling ended another streak set by four-time champion Rafael Nadal. After taking out Nadal in the fourth round of last year’s event, Soderling fell to Federer in the final.
“He had some chances in the second set,” Soderling said. “When I won the second set, which was very big for me, I really felt I could relax a little bit. After that I started to play better and better.”
Federer had posted a 12-0 mark against the Swede, and lost only two sets against Soderling. He began the match in control, winning 22 of his first 24 points and leading 30-0 in the first game of the second set. Federer then seemed to fall apart instantly after losing four-straight points. Soderling scored his first break off of a wide backhand by the Swiss-born player.
With his brutal style of play, Soderling was able to stay with Federer during rallies from the baseline. Roger was forced to stay back and play the speedy volleys, disallowing him to come forward and attack. He was forced to the backstop late in the third set by a Soderling smash, and played a ball that the Swede put away with an over-the-shoulder backhand winner.
The No. 5 seed took the lead in the match shortly after a 75 minute rain delay. When asked about how he felt after the win, Soderling said he was relieved to finally beat Federer.
“It cannot be much better,” Soderling told the crowd after his latest upset at Roland Garros. “It’s great to play on this court. It’s for sure my favorite Grand Slam.”
Soderling is being hailed as the new “upset king” after taking out the two best players in the world in the last two years Nadal and Federer. Nadal will again be ranked as the world’s No. 1 if he can continue on to win the final.
Ivan Lendl and Rod Laver were the only two players to have a streak anywhere near the one Federer was compiling. They each had appeared in 10 consecutive semifinals at Grand Slams
Tennis Sportsbooks have set Soderling as the favorite in his semifinal match against Tomas Berdych. Soderling’s line is set at -200, while Berdych is the slight underdog at +150.