Au revoir: Robin Soderling Stops Roger Federer's streak at 23
Today at Roland Garros, it was Deja vu all over again.
After 12 consecutive losses to Roger Federer, a defiant Robin Soderling undoubtedly understood what kind of inspired tennis he would have to play to snap the streak - and he did just that.
Just like last year, when he slayed the indomitable dragon known as Nadal, Robin Soderling has shocked the tennis world by bringing another tennis deity to his knees on Phillipe Chatrier. On a rain-soaked clay court, playing his brand of high-risk tennis to perfection, Soderling forced Roger Federer to spend the majority of the final three sets on the defensive.
Serving bombs, and launching weapons-grade groundstrokes from the baseline, Soderling quickly struck back in the second set to erase a one set deficit, before the players were forced to retreat to the locker rooms due to inclement weather.
When they returned, Soderling was still on his game. The soggy conditions, according to Soderling in his post-match interview with Brad Gilbert, gave him more time to catch up with Federer's pace. And when he did catch up, the big Swede made it count by winding up his big forehand and taking aim at the white lines.
Swinging for the fences any time he could get his feet set, the big Swede hit 49 winners to go with his 14 aces.
But Federer was never out of this match until the last ball was struck. In spite of the difficult playing conditions and the insane level of Soderling's play, Federer managed to go up a break in the fourth set with some fine play of his own.
Soderling, however, was undeterred. He snatched the momentum back by breaking immediately, then continued to launch his version of shock and awe against the legend on the other side of the court.
After securing a second break, Soderling had a chance to serve for the match against Federer, and he did not wilt.
The final game seemed to be over before it began, and Soderling was emphatically pumping his fists waiting for Federer to shake his hand at the net before the heavy reality of what had just occurred started to seep in.
Federer's streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi finals is over, but Federer fans can find solace in the fact that his streak of consecutive Grand Slam quarter finals is still in tact.
Meanwhile, Soderling is the first man in 25 years to knock out the defending champion in back-to-back years (Mats Wilander knocked out Yannick Noah and Ivan Lendl in '84 and '85).
There wasn't much that anybody could have done to derail Robin Soderling today - greatest player to perhaps ever play the game, or not.
Now at 11-1 over the last two years in the French Open, Soderling will look to advance to his second straight final when he plays Tomas Berdych in the semi finals on Friday.
No matter what type of craziness ensues, Soderling has put an exclamation point next to the words that have defined his last two seasons at Roland Garros.
Last year we thought it may have been a fluke, but this year it's official. Robin Soderling is a giant killer of epic proportions.