Robin Soderling – World Tour Finals contenders
Originally published on: 17/11/10 21:45
Age: 26 (August 26 1984)
Birthplace: Tibro, Sweden
ATP ranking: 4th
Season best: Winner – Rotterdam, Masters 1000 Paris, Runner-up – Barcelona, Roland Garros, Bastad
Season win/loss record: 56-20
Prize money (2010): $3,091,527
Record vs. top eight: Rafael Nadal 2-5; Roger Federer 1-14; Novak Djokovic 1-5; Andy Murray 4-5; Tomas Berdych 6-3; David Ferrer 8-4; Andy Roddick 3-2
2010 Grand Slam record: Australian Open R128; Roland Garros RU; Wimbledon QF; US Open QF
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals best: Making second appearance; reaching the semis in his debut in 2009
Season review: Robin Soderling showed that he was no ‘one season wonder’ as he again forced his way up the ranks to reach a career high world No.4, largely down to another impressive clay court stretch.
Second season syndrome often catches up with players who have pretty much come from nowhere to produce a stunning year and then struggled to maintain the new level the following year. It looked to be taking its toll on Soderling, who began the year with losses to two players ranked outside the top 100: first losing to Robby Ginepri in Chennai and then most notably surrendering a two sets advantage to fall to Marcel Granollers in the first round at the Australian Open – a tournament at which he was expected to be a threat.
The poor run of results came to an end in Holland, and in fine fashion, as Soderling wrapped up the Rotterdam title. Spurred on by the victory he went on to make the quarters in Marseille before reaching the semis at both Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami, which included impressive wins against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andy Murray and Mikhail Youzhny.
Clay was where Soderling felt most comfortable and he made an instant impact as the Eurpoean season began, finishing runner-up in Barcelona. Unfortunately this did not last long, losing in the early rounds in both Rome and Madrid before tripping up at the first hurdle in Nice to Olivier Rochus.
Soderling then had the pressure of defending the rankings points he so memorably secured by reaching the 2009 Roland Garros final. And it wasn’t made easy with a tricky draw but the Swede looked to be world-beater on the Parisian clay, defeating Albert Montanes and Marin Cilic to progress to the quarters, where he faced the unenviable task of taking on the 16-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer, a man who had not lost a Slam quarter-final since 2003. But Soderling, who stunned the tennis world by defeating the four-time winner Rafael Nadal at the same stage the year before, refused to be intimidated by that incredible stat and instead created his own history by beating the Swiss and progress to his second successive final after defeating Tomas Berdych in five sets. However like last year, Soderling could not produce the same in the final and was crushed by Nadal.
The Spaniard once again stood in his way, this time in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, after defeating one of Nadal’s compatriots David Ferrer in five sets to reach a career best in the championships.
Returning to the clay in his home country, the Swede battled his way to the final in Bastad before losing to Nicolas Almagro in the final.
Soderling then hit the hard courts where he withstood a number of bruising wins in Toronto and Cincinnati in preparation for the US Open.
Like the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne, Soderling was forced to a five setter against a ranked outsider, but this time he scrapped through with victory, defeating Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-5 6-3 6-7(2) 5-7 6-4. The Swede managed to get his game together until losing to Federer in the last eight.
Quarter-final appearances followed in Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Shanghai and Stockholm, which was enough to secure his spot at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. With the pressure to qualify removed, Soderling made the last four in Valencia and then gave himself perfect preparation coming into London by winning his first Masters 1000 title in Paris, where he notably saved three match points to defeat Michael Llodra 6-7 7-5 7-6 before defeating Gael Monfils in straight sets to climb to a career high world No.4.
Last year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals: An incredible year nearly finished in style. The Swede got off to a great start by defeating both Nadal and Djokovic in straight sets. Still not yet confirmed for a semi-final spot Soderling managed to secure enough games in his three set defeat to Nikolay Davydenko to see them both into the last four. In an unexpected semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro, the pair produced a great show until the Argentine edged the match in a final set tiebreak.
Chances: Victory at the BNP Paribas Masters last week puts the Swede as one of the leading contenders for the title. However in a group which includes Andy Murray and Federer he will have to produce something similar to what he produced to win in Paris.