Paris, Jun 1: Robin Sodering ended Rafa's hope of a record fifth successive French Open title at the Roland Garros on Sunday, May 31. In one of the greatest upsets in the history of the tournament, the Spanish king of clay slumped to a first ever defeat here having racked up 31 wins in 31 outings since his 2005 debut.
Soderling"s stunning 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2) fourth round victory came just a month after he"d won only one game in a rout at the Rome Masters, his third defeat in three matches against the world No. 1. The six-times Grand Slam champion seemed lacking in energy on Centre Court, losing the first set in 34 minutes before rallying back to win the second in a tie-break 7-2.
It was a mere inconvenience on Soderling way. He made sure that a second champion was dismissed that day after women"s holder Ana Ivanovic was earlier beaten by Belarussian teenager Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-3.
An inconsolable Nadal said he could not keep his nerve in those moments of the match. “I have to accept with the same calm when I win than when I lose. After four years, I lose here, and the season continues," a gracious Nadal told in the press conference after match.
The draw has now opened up for three-time finalist Roger Federer. The former No. 1 needs only to win the French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, and his road got clearer on Saturday when potential semifinal opponent Novak Djokovic was eliminated and he won against Paul-Henri Mathieu in four sets.