Fri Jun 04 03:23pm EDT
Soderling's stunning 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 victory over Nadal in last year's fourth round was the greatest upset in modern tennis history. Rafa had defeated Roger Federer earlier in the year at the Australian Open, was the four-time defending champion in Paris (where he had never lost a match) and beat Soderling one month earlier 6-1, 6-0. A loss to Soderling wasn't just unexpected, it was unfathomable. In retrospect, we learned of injuries and family issues, neither of which should diminish Soderling's victory, but might help explain it a bit.
Now the two will meet again on the red clay of Roland Garros, Soderling looking for his first Grand Slam title and Nadal looking for revenge on the lone black mark in his French Open career.
For the past two months, all anybody could talk about was the inevitable Federer-Nadal final at Roland Garros. When Soderling beat Federer, there was a sense of disappointment that we weren't going to get the final we had waited for all year. That feeling has dissipated a bit. Instead of having a final in which we're asking whether one player can finally beat Nadal at the French, we have one in which we're asking whether one player can do it again.