Soderling’s last laugh on Federer
Roger Federer joked he had extended his run of grand slam quarter-final appearances after French Open giant-killer Robin Soderling ended one of the most impressive sequences in professional sport.
Soderling stunned defending champion Federer at Roland Garros to deny the Swiss a 24th consecutive semi-final in a major as lightning struck for the second time in two years on Philippe Chatrier Court.
Fifth seed Soderling, who had lost all 12 of his previous meetings with the world number one, came from a set down to win 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4 in a rain-hit two-and-a-half hours.
Federer was philosophical both about his defeat and the end of his amazing run, describing it as one of the proudest achievements of his career.
“It all comes to an end at some stage,” said the 28-year-old, whose last defeat prior to the semi-final stage of a grand slam came at the same tournament six years ago.
“I think it was a great run — now I've got the quarter-final streak going, I guess.
“It's been an amazing run.
“If I could have signed for all those semis in a row, I would've done it right away, so I've made incredible progress in terms of my play at the highest of levels, to be able always to come back and play semis after semis after semis in slams and give myself chances to win slams. I was able to win many of them, so I'm very proud of myself about that streak and it's probably one of the greatest ones I have in my history books.”
Last night’s defeat was very much unlucky 13 for the Swiss, coming against a man who went into yesterday’s match as the only player on tour to have faced him on more than 10 occasions and lost every time.
Federer claimed his defeat was easier to handle because he felt he had played well.
He said: “I'm disappointed to a certain degree. I didn't think I played a bad match, so it's easier to go out this way.
“Conditions obviously were on the rougher side for both of us, and I thought he came up with some great tennis.
“So it's much easier to digest this way.”
Soderling insisted he never stopped believing he could end his hoodoo against Federer.
The Swede last year became the first man to beat king of clay Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros before losing to Federer in the final.
His dozen defeats to the Swiss ace had also seen him claim just two sets, although one of those did come at last year's US Open and he did beat Federer in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi in January.
“I think even though I lost so many times, I always had a chance to win,” the 25-year-old said.
“I came close a couple of times before and I feel one or two times that I've actually been a little bit unlucky.