Arguably the most impressive record in men’s tennis was broken yesterday at the French Open. Roger Federer had made 23 Grand Slam semifinals in a row, coming into his match against 8th world ranked, Robin Soderling. Soderling, who had knocked off Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros last year on route to his first Grand Slam final appearance, came into his match against Federer with an 0-12 lifetime record. If their head-to-head history wasn’t enough to make you think Federer would prevail, how about the fact that the current World No. 1 was 133-1 against players outside the top 5 in Grand Slam matches since Wimbledon 2004-with the one loss being to Juan Martin Del Potro, who was clearly the best hard court player last summer, in the 2009 US Open final.
In a very similar circumstance to last year's US Open final, Federer jumped ahead a set and a break early. But then Soderling fought back to win the second set and then at 5 games a piece in the third, the match was delayed due to rain. When play resumed, Soderling took it to Federer, running him all over the court with potentially the hardest forehand in the game, and consistently hitting big first and second serves. After taking the third set 7-5, the Swede never looked back.
With both Djokovic and Murray struggling, and Juan Martin Del Potro being out because of his wrist surgery, I think Robin Soderling is clearly the third best player on the ATP tour right now.