Monday, June 1, 2009

French Open 2009: Nadal beaten at Roland Garros, Federer great comeback to march on to the Quarters...

Rafael Nadal's four-year reign as king of clay at the French Open ended today after he was sensationally dumped out by unheralded Swede Robin Soderling in the fourth round.

The Spaniard suffered his first-ever defeat at Roland Garros as he lost 6-2 6-7 (2/7) 6-4 7-6 (7/2) to the inspired world number 25 in what is being labelled arguably the biggest upset in tennis history.

With Novak Djokovic having also been eliminated, the door is now ajar for the likes of second seed Roger Federer and third seed Andy Murray, the British number one who beat Marin Cilic today.

'I made it very easy for him - I didn't attack him, I played very short,' said the Mallorcan, whose 31 consecutive wins here is a French Open record.

'It was more my fault than him playing well. I didn't play my best tennis and for that reason I lost. It wasn't my day.'

Nadal may have dropped well below his usual level but Soderling, who was featuring in his first last-16 match at a grand slam, played out of his skin.

Most people were expecting his level to dip after standing shoulder to shoulder with the top seed in the first couple of sets but he continued to pound away at his opponent with his mighty groundstrokes.

'It's the biggest moment in my career. He's the best clay-court player of all time,' said the 24-year-old, who is seeded 23 here and takes on Nikolay Davydenko next.

World No 2 Roger Federer has fought back from two sets down to beat Germany's Tommy Haas and reach the French Open quarter-finals.

The second seed, still needing a French Open to become only the sixth man to complete a career Grand Slam, will now face either American sixth seed Andy Roddick or Gael Monfils, the 11th-seeded Frenchman, for a place in the semi-finals.

It was Federer's fifth career recovery from a two-set deficit as he emerged a 6-7 (4/7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 winner.

Having seen four-time champion Nadal suffer his first defeat in Paris on Sunday, Federer came dangerously close to seeing his lifetime dream also evaporate.

At two sets to the good, 31-year-old Haas had a break point in the eighth game of the third set which, had he seized it, would have given him the chance to serve for the match.

But Federer, who has not failed to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final since his third-round loss to Gustavo Kuerten here in 2004, saved it with a forehand pass and the German began to wilt, with the Swiss reeling off 14 of the last 16 games.

"Tommy played a great match, I struggled to get into the encounter," Federer said. "When I hit that forehand to save a break point at 3-4 in the third, I had the feeling it could be a turning point in the match.

"After that, the atmosphere was great."

He broke in the fifth and seventh games of the decider and never looked back, wrapping up victory on his second match point after three hours seven minutes.

Asked who he would prefer to meet in the last eight, Federer smiled: "I'm 18-2 against Roddick so you can imagine who."

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