Robin Söderling will always be known as the man who beat Rafael Nadal in the French Open. It was a feat warmly welcomed by former Swedish champion Björn Borg, who sent his compatriot an SMS message in which he wrote: “Congratulations. Thanks for preventing Nadal from breaking my record.” Nadal was poised to beat Borg’s four consecutive Roland Garros wins with a fifth victory before his defeat on Sunday.
To reduce Söderling’s performance at this year’s French Open to just one match, however, would be forgetting that he also eliminated two other favourites at the tournament: David Ferrer, ranked 14th in the world and a specialist on the clay court, and Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko.
Söderling beat Davydenko on Tuesday in three sets, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. At a press conference afterward, Söderling said the final results might make it look like the match was easy. But his victory was hard won, he said, as it is always difficult to win a first set, especially against Davydenko.
Confronted with the Swede’s raw power, Davydenko appeared unable to take control and was unable to reverse Söderling’s domination of the court.
“Yes, Robin surprised me,” said Davydenko, who celebrated his 28th birthday on the day of his defeat. “He plays very very well. If I improved my game at the base line, he played even more powerfully, all along the line.”
Although his victory against Nadal is already being hailed as something of a miracle, the 23rd-ranked player seems to be taking it in stride. “I always knew that I could play excellent tennis when I was at the top of my form,” Söderling said, displaying a confidence that might give his next challengers even more reason to fear.