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Page last updated at 17:45 GMT, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 18:45 UK

Robin Soderling stuns Roger Federer at French Open

French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Date: 23 May-6 June
Coverage:
Live video streamed from 1000 BST on BBC Sport website (UK only) and BBC red button; commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra; also live on Eurosport; text commentary on BBC Sport website Details of BBC coverage

A dejected Roger Federer leaves the court followed by Robin Soderling

Highlights - Federer falls to Soderling

By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Roland Garros

Robin Soderling produced a stunning upset for the second year running at the French Open as he defeated world number one and reigning champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

The 25-year-old Swede gained revenge for defeat in last year's final with a 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4 win that ends Federer's incredible run of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals.

It also opens up the possibility that, should Rafael Nadal win the title, the Swiss will lose the top ranking just a week before equalling Pete Sampras's record of 286 weeks in the number one position.

For Soderling, it gives further proof that his shock defeat of Nadal at Roland Garros last year was anything but a flash in the pan.

"They are both big wins, of course," said Soderling when asked to compare the victories over Federer and Nadal. "They were both number ones but they're different players and I'm really happy that I showed I can beat them both."

606: DEBATE
bogbrush

He had been expected to provide Federer with his first serious test of the tournament but a head-to-head record of 0-12 suggested Soderling might again find the Swiss a challenge he just could not overcome.

Federer came out in blistering form as he dominated the opening set, dropping just two points on serve and converting his fourth break point in game eight as he swept through it in 32 minutes.

When Federer earned his fifth break point of the day at the start of the second set, it seemed that the contest might be as good as done within 40 minutes.

However, the first serve that had abandoned Soderling for much of the first set returned just in time as he sent down a heavy delivery to see off the danger and change the momentum of the match.

A couple of missed first serves in game two were punished by Soderling with fierce returns and at 30-40 Federer mis-hit a backhand to give the fifth seed an unexpected 2-0 lead.

This is a big win but it's not the final and I don't want to celebrate too much, I want to focus on the next game

Robin Soderling

For the next hour, serve held sway, with neither man facing a break point and the only moment of real drama came when Soderling missed his first two set points with nervous errors, before Federer netted a backhand on the third.

The third set progressed at a rapid pace with the tension ratcheting up a notch as each game passed, and Federer had the first chance but could not capitalise on a set point in game 10.

Soderling won a stunning rally, moving in to hit a smash only for Federer to anticipate it and throw up a devilish sliced lob that the Swede did brilliantly to reach, let alone flick away a winning backhand smash.

When the heavens finally opened above Court Philippe Chatrier moments later, after threatening all day, the tie was in the balance with Federer serving at 6-3 3-6 5-5 (30-15).

A little over an hour later the players returned to a cold and gloomy arena and Federer made a dreadful mess of the restart, letting a 40-15 lead slip with two poor forehands and a double-fault before Soderling cracked away a forehand on break point.

I thought he came up with some great tennis. You know, it's a touch easier to digest this way

Roger Federer

It was a huge breakthrough for the fifth seed and he took full advantage by firing down an ace on his second set point to move into the lead for the first time.

Federer was on the brink, but he twice came back from two sets down on the way to winning in Paris last year and, when he broke Soderling to lead 2-0 in the fourth, the chants of "Roger, Roger" that rang around the stadium suggested the home fans were expecting another comeback.

The Swiss just could not rediscover his early form, however, and three more errors handed the break straight back, giving Soderling just the confidence boost he needed as another landmark victory now loomed.

A three-minute rain break midway through the set might have given Federer hope of an overnight delay but it was not to be, Soderling seeing three break points slip by in game seven before the pressure told as he broke for 5-3.

The Swede had a first ever win over Federer in his sights and he served out nervelessly to set up a semi-final against Tomas Berdych, who thrashed Mikhail Youzhny 6-3 6-1 6-2 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"First set he played well, and I didn't serve too well, and he had some chances in the second set and I saved a couple of really important points," said Soderling.

CONSECUTIVE GRAND SLAM SEMIS
23 Roger Federer
2004 Wimbledon-2010 Aus Open
10 Ivan Lendl
1985 US Open-1988 Aus Open
8 Rod Laver
1960 Wimbledon-1962 US Open
8 Ashley Cooper
1957 Aust Open-1958 US Open
7 Jack Crawford
1933 Aus Open-1934 Wimbledon

"I think when I won the second set, which was a very big thing, I felt I could relax. After that I think I started to play better."

He added: "I always believe that I can win. This is a big win but it's not the final and I don't want to celebrate too much, I want to focus on the next game."

Federer said: "I'm disappointed to a certain degree. I don't think I played a bad match, so it's easier to go out this way I think.

"Conditions obviously were on the rougher side for both of us, and I thought he came up with some great tennis. You know, it's a touch easier to digest this way.

"At times I guess I could have played a bit better. He served well. I didn't take my chances early on in the second set. And then in the third set as well.

"So I just missed too many chances today, which I didn't do last year, and I was able to run away with it. Today I couldn't do that."



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see also
Federer proud of semi-final run
01 Jun 10 |  Tennis
French Open day 10 as it happened
01 Jun 10 |  Tennis
French Open day 10 photos
01 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Wozniacki dumped out by Schiavone
01 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Federer claims historic Paris win
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Champion Nadal falls to Soderling
31 May 09 |  Tennis
Grand slam men's singles latest
21 May 10 |  Tennis
Grand slam women's singles latest
21 May 10 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis


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