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Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Saturday, 5 June 2010 18:10 UK

Nadal ready for Soderling rematch

French Open - men's final
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Date: 6 June
Coverage:
Live video streamed from 1400 BST on BBC Two and BBC Sport website (UK only); commentary on BBC 5 live; text commentary on BBC Sport website; also live on Eurosport. Details of BBC coverage

Rafa Nadal and Robin Soderling shake hands after the Swede's win last year
Nadal's only defeat at Roland Garros came against Soderling last year

By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Roland Garros

Four-time champion Rafael Nadal insists revenge is not on his mind as he prepares to take on Robin Soderling in the French Open final on Sunday.

The Spaniard suffered his only defeat to date at Roland Garros in the fourth round against Soderling last year as the Swede made it through to the final, only to lose to Roger Federer.

"I never believe in revenge," said Nadal. "I believe in trying my best in every moment and if I lose, I lose, and congratulate Robin because he did better than me.

"But I go on court trying to play my best tennis and thinking about Roland Garros, not thinking about Robin. For me, revenge doesn't exist in one match, and especially when we talk about the final of Roland Garros."

Rafael Nadal

Highlights - Nadal falls to Soderling in 2009

A victory on Sunday will take Nadal back to number one in the world and leave Federer one week short of matching Pete Sampras's record 286 weeks in top spot, but the Majorcan is not focusing on rankings.

"Believe me, if I win on Sunday, it's going to be the last thing that I'm going think," said the 24-year-old. "For me, the important thing is the tournament. To be number one wasn't the main goal for me."

The numbers and the weight of history certainly favour Nadal going into Sunday's final.

He is attempting to move within one of Bjorn Borg's record six French Open titles and the Spaniard has completely dominated the current clay-court season, amassing a 21-0 record on the surface after winning titles in Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid.

But Nadal will take nothing for granted after last year's early exit, as well as the injury problems that followed that meant he was unable to defend his Wimbledon title or travel to the US Open in peak condition.

"Anything can happen," he said. "I can lose, yes. But I arrived here in the right condition, physically and mentally, so for me that's the positive thing. Last year the hardest thing wasn't losing, the hardest thing was arriving in probably the most important part of the season in my worst condition possible.

I think he's improved his personality in the last year

Nadal on Soderling

"I was always a little bit nervous about being ready to play my best at this moment. I did. I am here. If Robin plays better than me and beats me, I had a very good clay-court season. That's what I can say."

Storms are predicted for Sunday and there is a feeling that it might favour Soderling, who excelled in beating Federer in similar conditions in the quarter-finals but struggled when the ball flew on a hot day against Tomas Berdych in the semis.

And Nadal insists he wants a sunny day for the final, explaining: "Because sun is energy. Second thing, because everything is nicer with the sun than with the rain, wind, these kind of things. Third point, because with the sun my ball is getting more topspin than with rain and with the other conditions."

Soderling, 25, has backed up his breakthrough of last season by establishing himself in the top 10, and Tuesday's four-set win over Federer made up in part for his straight-sets defeat in the Roland Garros final 12 months ago.

"To play a final again here, it's great," said the Swede. "Hopefully I can handle it a little bit better than I did last year, because last year everything was so new for me. Now I've got used to it a little bit more.

"I played matches against Roger at both Wimbledon and the US Open last year, against Rafa at the Masters. I think I learned from every one of those matches. Hopefully I can do better this year."

Soderling trails 3-2 in matches against Nadal but has won the last two, winning convincingly when the pair met at the Tour Finals in London last November.

606: DEBATE
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"We've played many times," said Soderling. "He beat me a lot of times, and I beat him a few times, so it was not the last match. We played one or two times after that. But of course it's always good to have beaten a player before. I know that I can beat him. I showed it. But every match is a new match, and every match is different."

Their most infamous meeting to date came at Wimbledon in 2007 when Nadal, who won in five sets over five rain-delayed days, was upset by Soderling imitating his habit of picking at his shorts, but the Spaniard says any disagreement is long forgotten.

"After that match, I didn't have one problem with him," said Nadal. "I think he's doing well, and at the same time he's improved his level of tennis. He's improved his level of kind of person, no? I think he's improved his personality in the last year."



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see also
Nadal to meet Soderling in final
04 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Soderling beats Berdych in semis
04 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Soderling stuns Nadal in London
23 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Champion Nadal falls to Soderling
31 May 09 |  Tennis
Nadal slams schedule despite win
04 Jul 07 |  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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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Official Web Site of Wimbledon Nadal back at number one - 1 hr ago
London Evening Standard Rafael Nadal fires Wimbledon warning after five-star performance in Paris - 1 hr ago
Cape TimesRelief and joy for Nadal - 1 hr ago
Pakistan Times Tennis: Nadal regains French Open Crown - 3 hrs ago
Reuters No rest for Nadal as Spaniard's focus switches to grass - 3 hrs ago
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