Before the start of the Roland Garros 2009, Swede Robin Soderling had reached the top of the third round in a Grand Slam tournament. In Paris he presented himself as 23rd seeded, after losing in the third match of the BNL Internationals of Italy against Rafael Nadal, with a very hard score of 6-1 6-0.
At the Bois de Boulogne he defeated Kevin Kim, Denis Istomin and David Ferrer, thus booking himself for a rematch with Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard was the clear favorite of the match, but Tibro's player surprised him in four sets, inflicting his very first defeat on Rafa in Paris.
In the semifinal he overtook the Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in a tough battle that ended in the fifth set, thus accessing his first Major final. Waiting for him is the Swiss Roger Federer, fresh from a very hard battle with Juan Martin del Potro.
The Basel champion triumphed in three sets, in his first, and to date, the only victory in Paris.
Robin Soderling: "He was really tough"
Recalling that match which took place more than ten years ago, the Swede told The Functional Tennis Podcast: "I tried, but for me it was very hard mentally, it was also my first final in a Grand Slam event, it all happened so fast.
He had a lot more experience. Roger has always been the toughest opponent I've ever faced. Against him I can say that I only played well on a couple of occasions. It makes you feel uncomfortable on the court." Soderling's first and only victory against Federer will come the following year, in the quarter-finals of the new edition of Roland Garros: "That was probably my best match in Paris, I played great against Rafa but I think even better.
against Roger. I was also a bit lucky because the conditions were the heavy ones of a rainy day." After beating Federer, Soderling reached the final but was unable to repeat the feat of the previous year: Nadal overtook him 6-2 6-2 6-4: "Roger plays very fas.
that's why I always have problems with my long strokes and my powerful strokes. I didn't have time to play my heavy game, but when conditions were slower things got easier for me. That way I had a little more time and had a chance to hit hard enough, so that was the perfect day for me to defeat Roger."