“Tried to Not Be Too Happy”: Robin Soderling After Becoming First Player to Defeat Rafael Nadal at French Open

Published 12/19/2020, 2:35 PM EST
Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 21, 2020 Spain’s Rafael Nadal walks off after losing his semi-final match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs


Rafael Nadal has a stellar record in the French Open. Recently he won his 13th title at the French Open 2020, taking his overall win-loss record to 100-2. He has lost just two matches, and the first one to beat him was Robin Soderling in 2009. Soderling now shares a unique distinction of defeating Rafa Nadal at the French Open alongside Novak Djokovic.

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Recently on The Functional Tennis Podcast, Soderling looked at the 2009 French Open victory over Nadal. He spoke about his tactics and strategy. Soderling played to his strength and played fast deep shots, which surprised Nadal.

“My game plan was to play really aggressive. I just felt like okay, if I gonna win this match I can’t let Rafa dictate the points. I have to be the one taking the initiative and just take some more chances than I normally did. And that worked, and mentally I was, it was really good as well.”

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Robin Soderling experienced a tough mental battle against Rafael Nadal

Further, Soderling spoke about the mental transition he experienced in the match. Soderling during the match against Nadal went from being the player who had nothing to lose to the player who had everything to lose at the latter stages of the match.

“I remember actually tie break forth set. I got up to 6-1 I think with five match points. Now for the first time in the match I’m probably the favorite, and everybody’s favorite so now I have everything to lose and I think I lost the first point after that and I’m really glad that he didn’t win one or two because then I would start to shake a little bit.”

Rafael Nadal during his semi-final match against Daniil Medvedev. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Robin Soderling has two consecutive French Open final appearances in 2009 and 2010

After winning, Soderling tried his best to be modest and focus on his next round and try to reach the end of the Grand Slam.

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“And I really tried to not be too happy and I really wanted to stay focused because I really felt that, I don’t want to be one of those guys beating, beating the top see just to you know be happy and and come out flat in the next round and lose the next round.”

Soderling did reach the French Open final in 2009. He lost out to Roger Federer. But in 2010, Soderling defeated Federer to reach the French Open final but lost to Rafa Nadal. Despite that, he and tennis enthusiasts will remember the feat he achieved by defeating Nadal at the French Open.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1071 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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