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Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Sunday, 6 June 2010 13:45 UK

Rafael Nadal v Robin Soderling as it happened


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By Caroline Cheese

1655: Time to wrap up the 2010 French Open (although be sure to read Piers Newbery's report from Paris) but let's not have any tears: the grasscourt season starts tomorrow and Queen's will be live on BBC Two and the BBC website from 1300 BST. And then there's Wimbledon... Hooray!

1651: Some of you are disappointed by Rob-Sod's performance. He definitely could have served better, and he finished with 45 unforced errors. But as we've seen time and time again, Nadal's relentless running and unrivalled defence just makes you go for a bit extra every time. I just think today was all about how good Nadal is on this surface.

2010MisterChip on Twitter: "Rafa Nadal is the first man ever to win four consecutive tournaments on clay (Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid & Roland Garros)."

From Maynard, Edinburgh, via text: "Unbelievable. Nadal ends the clay court season having dropped just two sets. Completely cleaned up. Amazing!"

1646: A multilingual Rafa Nadal, who speaks in English, French and Spanish. Is he trying to rival Federer in number of languages spoken as well?! In English he says: "I congratulate Robin for amazing two tournaments last year and this year. Well done. Best of luck for the rest of the season." In French, he thanks the crowd for their support and describes it as "the most emotional moment of my career". And in his own language, he thanks an awful lot of people, including Queen Sofia for turning up.

Beaten finalist Robin Soderling: "Bonjour, hello…[pause for laughter]… Firstly, I have to congratulate Rafa for his fifth victory. If you continue to play like this you will for sure have chances to win many more. I will come back next year and I hope it will be third time lucky then. See you next year."

1643: Nadal bites his lip as he listens to Spain's national anthem. Now for the speeches.

1640: Two-time winner Nicky Pietrangeli will present the gongs. Soderling up first to collect the plate. Sympathetic cheer for the Swede, and now a big roar - and some thumping techno music - for Rafael Nadal, who hugs it tightly. Not sure he'll be letting that go for a while.

1637: Nadal shakes hands with Queen Sofia of Spain before the prize-giving. The Spaniard, undefeated in an astonishing clay-court season, now has 40 career titles, and seven majors - up there with John McEnroe and Mats Wilander. And on Monday, Nadal will again topple Roger Federer as world number one. Not a bad day's work then.

1635: Nadal does the starfish on the Chatrier clay and after shaking hands with Soderling, he is sitting in his chair with a towel over his face, apparently sobbing. Last year hurt that much - but in a few minutes, he'll get his paws back on that famous trophy for a fifth time. Only Bjorn Borg has won it more often. Nadal's only 24, remember...


Nadal 6-4 6-2 6-4 Soderling
We came this far - but there had to be a Mexican wave. Ban them immediately. Nadal has to wait until it eventually peters out before serving for the match. Soders backhand into the net, and now a return goes the same way. Wild backhand return prompts a big shout of "si" from Rafa and that's three championship points. First serve flops into the net... but now a backhand into the net from Rob-Sod and HE'S DONE IT. A fifth French Open title for Rafael Nadal.

Nadal *6-4 6-2 5-4 Soderling
A clenched fist from Soderling - and why not? He picks up a deep Rafa groundstroke almost on the half-volley and spanks it for a clean winner. And now a lovely drop shot to make it 40-0, finishing it off with a sizzling forehand winner. Might be his best game of the match.

Nadal 6-4 6-2 5-3* Soderling
Nadal's first-serve percentage for the third set: 92. Uncle Toni will be worrying about the other 8% probably. The world number two is at 78% for the match. He holds to 15 and is one game away from his fifth French Open title. Relentless, he is.

Nadal *6-4 6-2 4-3 Soderling
Nadal threatening to finish this off very quickly as Soderling's fourth double fault of the day gives the Spaniard break point. Rob-Sod finds a big first serve though and puts away the short forehand. Not seen that enough in this match though. The Swede's first-serve percentage of 57 isn't going to do the job against Nadal. Good battling by Soderling though and he's still hanging on to Rafa's coat-tails..

Nadal 6-4 6-2 4-2* Soderling
Soderling up to 39 unforced errors, to Nadal's 12. I bet most of them were forced by Nadal's peerless defensive work. No sign of a let-up from the Spaniard either, as he closes out another service game to 30.

Nadal *6-4 6-2 3-2 Soderling
Nadal scampers across the baseline and rifles another brilliant backhand crosscourt. It's getting boring now.. not really. That's the only point Nadal wins though and Soderling finishes off an easy game with an ace. How's he going to break the Nadal serve though?

Nadal 6-4 6-2 3-1* Soderling
I don't think Soderling will be joining them is what I meant to say. I have become distracted by the punnet of strawberries to my left. Easy hold for Nadal there.

Nadal *6-4 6-2 2-1 Soderling
Hold to love for Soderling. Four players have come back from two sets down in the FO final: Gaudio (04), Agassi (99), Lendl (84), Borg (74). I really don't think Soderling will be joining them. There, I've said it.

Nadal 6-4 6-2 2-0* Soderling
Mark Petchey on the BBC Red Button reminds us that Nadal has only lost two sets in the entire clay-court season - to Almagro in Madrid and Gulbis in Rome... But just wait a minute, at 30-30, Soderling constructs a near-perfect point. He's a bit hesitant on the volley, but Nadal can't get it back and he has a break-back point. Unstoppable swinging serve out wide from Rafa. Another choker for Soderling.

Nadal *6-4 6-2 1-0 Soderling
Soders missing too many first serves now, and once we get into rally territory, you fear for the Swede. Nadal gets to deuce and then sees his opponent fire a tired-looking forehand into the net. Break point straight away in the third set and Soders again goes for too much on the forehand, missing the sideline by an inch. He throws the spare ball in his pocket away in frustration as he trudges to the chair. Not looking good.

Nadal 6-4 6-2 0-0* Soderling
Soders doesn't put up much of a battle as Nadal serves out the second set. The world number two takes it on his second set point when Rob-Sod belts a desperate backhand wide. The Swede is going to have show some serious mental fortitude now... Rafa's just a monster on this surface.

Nadal *6-4 5-2 Soderling
Well, if I were Soderling, I'd have picked up the balls and gone home in a right hump by now. The Swede double-faults to give Nadal a break point but saves it with a brave forehand onto the sideline. Ugh, but now a forehand which thinks about clearing the net but thinks better of it - and a backhand into the net. Nadal has the double break.

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery tweeting from Roland Garros: "Great stuff from Nadal to break and the angled forehand in the next game was just brilliant. Even Jay-Z applauded."

Nadal 6-4 4-2* Soderling
Nadal comes up with a pass from deep behind the baseline, wide right, and then has to sprint diagonally across the court up to the net to reach Soderling's excellent drop volley, flicking it past the Swede. What an engine. Soderling must be starting to wonder what more he can do. Another easy hold for Nadal, and Soderling might be praying for rain now, or this might run away from him.

Nadal *6-4 3-2 Soderling
Another classic Rafa shot, stretching out wide to flick a bamboozling backhand past Soderling. Three break points for Nadal and he only needs one, Soderling sending an off-forehand into the trams. Eight points in a row for Nadal after weathering the early Soderling storm.

Nadal 6-4 2-2* Soderling
The ump has a chat with Rafa about the time he's taking between points, a conversation which briefly rattles Nadal... And now there's a delay after the Spaniard wins the first point as someone high in the stands is attended to by the medical staff, but Nadal is soon back into the swing of things, whipping a magical forehand crosscourt to get to 40-0 before Soderling nets a return.

From aaron9070 on Twitter: "How is Nadal winning these rallies? Every time it looks like Soderling has won a point Nadal somehow gets back."

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery tweeting from Roland Garros: "Nadal edging it so far, not their best tennis but pretty intense. Clouding over ominously, hard to say who Beyonce & Jay-Z are backing."

Nadal *6-4 1-2 Soderling
Soders has now seen seven break point chances come and go, but what a response by the Swede. A hold to love.

Nadal 6-4 1-1* Soderling
Right, Soderling on the attack now and in to a 0-30 lead. Swinging serve out wide from Nadal, but now Soderling nails another deep forehand and Nadal can't handle it. "Robin, Robin, Robin..." The crowd want a five-setter here. Two break points. Ace by Rafa... But Soderling's dominating this rally, Nadal straining every muscle just to keep the ball in play, and that forces the Swede to go for too much on the backhand down the line - sticking it over the baseline. Yet another chance slips by... but here's another! Soderling spanking forehands onto the baseline, and Nadal eventually crumbling. I don't know how to describe this next point, I really don't. The Spaniard looks completely out of it about 100 times over, but somehow wins it when he puts away a volley at the net. Another dagger to the heart of Soderling, but an error by Nadal and it's break point again. Soderling's return goes long. How many more chances is he going to waste? Immense game by Rafa.

Nadal *6-4 0-1 Soderling
The camera has found some black clouds in the distance... And we could do without pessimistic cameras. We're up to an hour in the match as Soderling jumps into a 40-15 lead but then another killer rally, Nadal winning it when his vicious topspin forehand drops onto the line. Think Soderling left that one, judging by his desperate look to the skies. The Swede comes through, but it's taking all his efforts just to stay in this.

Nadal 6-4 0-0* Soderling
Wasteful first point from Soderling, a lame error ending it, and then he just misses with a backhand. But Soderling isn't done yet, some searching groundstrokes from the Swede in another tense rally and he finishes it with a forehand down the line. Back to 30-30, but Soders swings the return into the trams. "Vamos" from Rafa as he gets to set point for the fourth time, and Soders fizzes a forehand into the trams. First blood to the four-time champ.

Nadal *5-4 Soderling
Double fault to start the game and Soders is in trouble at 0-30, and in even more trouble when a big forehand clips the top of the net and drops on his side. Three set points for Nadal. Ace to save the first, unreturnable first serve to save the second, and a serve-forehand one-two to save the third. Good stuff. A chant of "Robin, Robin, Robin" goes up as Soders gets to game point, closing it out when Nadal miscues a return, the ball flying into the stands.

Nadal 5-3* Soderling
Soderling slapping backhands at the Nadal forehand, and the Spaniard suddenly whips one up the line. Incredible shot... But what's this? At 30-30, Nadal chucks in a wild double fault and Soderling has a break-back point. Soderling goes for a whopping forehand, which only just misses the line, but now Nadal miscues a forehand. What's going on? Another break point for Soders, but he bunts a backhand return wide. He can't say he hasn't had chances in this set.

Nadal *4-3 Soderling
Soders could do with an easy service game here and he rattles into a 40-0 lead courtesy of some huge serving. But Nadal's not ready to let it go. He gets one point back, and then whips a glorious forehand up the line. Double-fault from Rob-Sod. Ugh. It's deuce. The serve/forehand one-two get Soderling back to game point. That's a RIDICULOUS RALLY! Thought it would never end, but it does when Soderling nets a backhand. That's a killer, and the Swede plays a very hesitant rally on the next point. Nadal flicks a backhand crosscourt and earns a break point. Soderling's forehand flirts with and then kisses the back of the line - prompting gasps from the crowd - before Nadal eventually misses with a forehand. Argh! Horrible drop-half-volley attempt by Soderling, landing before the net. Break point again, saved by a huge forehand winner. Tense times for the Soderling camp... but the Swede squeaks through.

Nadal 4-2* Soderling
Easy for Nadal, Rob-Sod just making too many errors at the moment and Nadal hardly making any.

From JarredNotLeto on Twitter: "Got laptop in the garden for French Open final to watch Rafa before the rain comes."
Sounds idyllic

Nadal *3-2 Soderling
Wild forehand gets Soderling off to a bad start. At 15-30, Nadal stops the point to indicate Soderling's serve is out - but the umpire reckons it's in. An annoyed Nadal scuffs at the mark, before holding his hand up in apology at Soderling. Great length from Nadal on the next point - Soders just isn't that dangerous from behind the baseline - and he draws the error. Break point but Soderling now gets a mid-court ball and slaps a wonderfully-timed backhand crosscourt. Nadal on to the front foot to earn another break point. Soderling up the net to put away a volley - but decides to leave a floating backhand, which dips onto the baseline. Advantage Nadal.

Nadal 2-2* Soderling
If Nadal has learned anything from last year, it should be: don't hit anything short. But Nadal twice goes too far the other way in this game, hooking a couple of loopy shots over the baseline to give Soderling a break point. Soderling gets his return deep and steps in for the short reply - but belts a backhand long. Opportunity missed. Superb baseline scrapping from Nadal gets him to game point before Soderling swings a forehand into the trams.

Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Rafael Nadal finals on clay: 30 played, 28 wins. Two defeats in Hamburg 2007 and Madrid 2009 vs Federer."

Nadal *1-2 Soderling
Great start by both men, Soderling hammering another ace down the middle and marching confidently back to the chair after a love game.

Nadal 1-1* Soderling
Nadal giving it the "come on" already as he wins a gruelling rally to open the game. Classic Nadal: on the back foot for most of it before a devastating backhand turns it around. Nadal knocks in an ace - only his 13th of the tournament - to hold to 15.

Nadal *0-1 Soderling
Bit of a shaky start by Rob-Sod, dropping the first point and then hooking a forehand very long to allow Nadal to get back to 30-30 but a beefy serve gets him to game point, before he lashes down a first ace.
* denotes next to serve

1414: We're off. Tim Henman, like so many others, tips Nadal to win. Soderling will serve first.

1413: Wonder if Roger Federer's watching. Probably not, he'll be busy planning this year's outrageous Wimbledon outfit. His world number one ranking is on the line today. Rafa will take it if he wins - and with no points to defend over the next few months, he probably won't let it go anytime soon.

From James, Loughborough, via text: "Re 1345: It's also the Swedish National Day today!"

Former pro Justin Gimelstob on Twitter: "I am SO excited for NADAL/SODERLING, it has everything in it, different styles/personalities, a proven champion and an aspiring one."

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery tweeting from Roland Garros: "Breaking news... Beyonce and Jay-Z are here for the final!"

MisterChip2010 on Twitter: "Rafa Nadal can win Roland Garros without losing a set for the second time (first time in 2008). Only Bjorn Borg has managed it twice (1978, 1980)."

1403: Here they come... Soderling first to share his thoughts: "It's going to be really nice, I always enjoy playing here, I will enjoy every second of it." Nadal's interview is in Spanish, but I'm guessing he's going to give 100% and see what happens. Huge roar greets both players. Anticipation high ahead of this final. Only Federer-Nadal might have topped it.

1400: Perceived wisdom is that damp, cloudy conditions favour Soderling. He was brilliant against Federer in the wet, and patchy against Tomas Berdych in the sun. Nadal's best match so far was against Jurgen Melzer in the semis in hot, dry conditions. It's currently dry and a bit sunny, but the forecast ain't so good.

From caxi19 on 606: "Nadal's physical condition went against him last year and now we are made to believe the weather conditions might prevent him today. Erm, hello, he won Wimbledon on a foreign surface against the greatest grass court player of all time... only Rafa's body can stop him."

Jonathan Ross on Twitter: "Men's Finals tennis! Want Nadal to win because he's cool, but also want him to lose so Federer can stay number 1!"

1359: UK friends, if you'd like to give this page a little manual refresh, you should be able to see all kinds of video/audio wizardry.

1356: They're chucking plenty of water on the Chatrier court, so hopefully that means they're not expecting a downpour any time soon. All kinds of intrigue surrounding today's match-up, and not just about the weather. Soderling famously beat Nadal last year, but there were huge questions marks over the Spaniard's fitness and he then missed several months with serious knee bother. Rob-Sod also beat Nadal at the World Tour Finals in London, but again the world number two was below his best. However, in cementing his place in the world's top 10 and beating Roger Federer this year, you can't argue that Soderling hasn't backed up last year's stunning run to the final. Hopefully today, we'll see them both at their best...

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery tweeting from Roland Garros: "The good news is it's warm, dry and - like me - trying to be bright as Le Coldstream Guards do their thing on Chatrier. For me, Rafa in four."

1349: Weather news: dodgy. It's not raining at the moment but storms are predicted, which could play havoc with the magnificent locks of the aforementioned Borg (if he turns up today... he might have alternative birthday plans). Speaking after Rob-Sod's win over Roger Federer, the 54-year-old declared: "Robin constantly reaches new levels and now dare I say it, Robin will become the world number one and that will happen faster than we think. There is probably no one tennis player in the world with more confidence right now."

1345: And it's bonjour to you for the final time at Roland Garros in 2010. What a way to go out though. Coming up (weather permitting): Robin Soderling v Rafael Nadal. Rafa could become only the second man to win five French Open titles. Soderling is the only player to have beaten Nadal at Roland Garros. Soderling is Swedish, like Bjorn Borg, and the only other man to have won five or more French Opens is Bjorn Borg. And guess what? It's Bjorn Borg's birthday! What does it all mean?

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see also
Nadal powers to fifth French Open
06 Jun 10 |  Tennis
French Open men's final photos
06 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Nadal to meet Soderling in final
04 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Soderling beats Berdych in semis
04 Jun 10 |  Tennis

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