Britain’s top female tennis players have been given the opportunity to return to competition next month.
The Progress Tour Women’s Championships will be similar to Jamie Murray’s ‘Battle of the Brits’.
British number three Harriet Dart has agreed to play, but Johanna Konta, the world number 14, is not expected to take part.
The former top 100 player Naomi Broady has also signed up, along with 17-year-old Emma Raducanu.
The event will be held on outdoor courts at the National Tennis Centre (NTC) in London from 14-18 July.
The 16 singles players will be split into two divisions, before competing in a round robin and knockout stage mirroring the format of London’s ATP Finals.
Eight doubles teams will also take part, and there will be a prize fund of at least £30,000.
The tournament is being run, with the support of the LTA, by the Progress Tour’s director Barry Fulcher. The Tour was set up in 2017 to give “aspiring British players more earning opportunity on home soil”.
With ATP and WTA events suspended until late July at the earliest, the list of domestic events is growing.
Jamie Murray’s tournament will feature his brother Andy, Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund, and also take place at the NTC from 23-28 June.
And then in July, the LTA will host and run a series of its own domestic events at the same venue. All of the tournaments will be played behind closed doors.
Melo On Making Brazilian History At Roland Garros: ‘I Was On Another Planet’
Melo relives his 2015 Paris run
When Marcelo Melo landed in Brazil after winning Roland Garros in 2015, he was greeted by fans holding signs and waiting television reporters. He had just made history in Paris, becoming the first Brazilian man to win a Grand Slam doubles title.
“To be winning there in front of many Brazilians there for my first Grand Slam, I was on another planet,” Melo told ATPTour.com. “I was very happy. That was very special for me.”
Entering that Roland Garros with partner Ivan Dodig, Melo had played the tournament on eight previous occasions. Twice, he had reached the quarter-finals. But the Brazilian-Croatian team lost only one set en route to the final, in which they played American legends Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.
It was a special opportunity for Melo, who nearly two decades earlier watched as countryman Gustavo Kuerten became the first Brazilian Grand Slam champion at 1997 Roland Garros.
“After he won, everybody was in the streets wearing his clothes. It was huge, huge news here in Brazil. Everybody was talking about tennis,” Melo said. “I was in a tournament playing juniors and everybody went to the same room to see the match. Everybody was unbelievably happy. Everybody loves Guga here in Brazil. The way he is inside the court, outside the court, for us it was very special for a Brazilian to win the French Open.”
When Melo walked onto Court Philippe Chatrier, Kuerten was in the front row.
“It was cool when I saw him there, he was very close… He was shouting sometimes what to do, to be calm,” Melo said. “At one point it put a little bit of pressure to see him there, but I knew him before. I spent a couple times [with him] and we even played doubles together one time at a Challenger… He wanted to give me good energy. He was trying to help as much as he could and I was very happy for him to be there watching most of the match.”
There wasn’t only the pressure of competing in a Grand Slam final, but playing the top-seeded twins, who were already two-time Roland Garros champions.
“The Bryans stopped me a couple times before and after [that match] in finals. To play against them, we were losing a set and a break down. They were playing at a very high level in that moment,” Melo said. “To beat them in the final to win my first Grand Slam, this was huge for us here in Brazil as well because everyone knows how big the Bryans are for doubles.”
Dodig and Melo rallied past the Bryan Brothers 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5 to clinch the title. Since then, Melo won 2017 Wimbledon with Lukasz Kubot, and countryman Bruno Soares claimed two major trophies in 2016 alongside Jamie Murray. Bur for Melo, his 2015 Roland Garros run will always have a special place in his heart.
“Sometimes you dream about it, but you don’t actually know how it is after,” Melo said. “When I came back I started to process actually what I had done.”
ATPTour.com looks back at Spaniard’s unforgettable history in Paris
With 12 titles to his name, Rafael Nadal is the most successful player in Roland Garros history. Apart from leaving an indelible mark in Paris, he has provided countless memorable moments throughout the years.
ATPTour.com takes a look back at five of his biggest highlights at this event.
To Paris On Crutches
Two injuries delayed Nadal’s Roland Garros debut. In 2003, he hurt his right elbow while training in Manacor. The following year, he picked up a stress fracture in his left foot during his win in Estoril against Richard Gasquet.
Nadal’s agent, Carlos Costa, convinced Nadal to visit two of his sponsors at 2004 Roland Garros. Although the trip was only for a couple of days, the former No. 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings believed it would be good for Nadal to familiarise himself with the surroundings and discover the charm of Court Philippe Chatrier.
The teenager boarded a plane with his crutches and made his way around the tournament on them. For his introduction to Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal went to the top of the stands with Costa.
“We went to watch a Robredo match and [Nadal] was only able to stay there for 10 minutes,” Costa recalled. “He couldn’t be in the stands instead of on the court. That was when I realised he was a champion.
“On the street, without me asking, he told me he couldn’t be there any longer. He said that he was broken because it wasn’t his turn to win, that he would have to win when he played there for the first time.”
On 5 June 2005, Nadal climbed into one of the boxes in the stadium to celebrate with this team after beating Mariano Puerta 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 to win his first crown in Paris. The critics labelled him as the favourite, but the victory was still extraordinary for the 19-year-old.
“I told you I would do it!”, Nadal shouted to Costa when it was his turn for a high-five in the stands.
Zidane & The First Title
Rafael Nadal collected his first Coupe des Mousquetaires from the hands of Zinedine Zidane, the French football legend and Real Madrid’s current manager. For Nadal, well-known for his love of football, it was hugely exciting to receive his first Roland Garros trophy from Zidane.
Back in the locker room, Nadal was drinking a soft drink. He had a short conversation with Jaime Lissavetzky, then-Secretary of State for Sport in Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s government in Spain. Later, still dressed in his green sleeveless t-shirt and white pirate pants he had worn in the match against Puerta, the player sat on a wooden bench with the trophy as his team continued to recall moments from the match.
Two special guests then approached Nadal to congratulate him and have their photo taken with him: 1977 Roland Garros champion Guillermo Villas and Gustavo Kuerten, former No. 1 and three-time champion in Paris (1997, 2000, 2001).
Mats Wilander, another three-time champion in Paris (1982, 1985, 1988) also asked for a photo. The Swede had been the last player to win the tournament on his first attempt before Nadal accomplished the feat.
But nobody in the room, not even Nadal himself, could imagine on that afternoon that they had just witnessed the birth of the best tennis player of all time on clay.
With Nadal looking to break the record for most titles won in Paris with his seventh Roland Garros crown, rain pushed the end of his 2012 final against Novak Djokovic to Monday.
The match was delayed that evening in Paris as Nadal led Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2. However, the Serbian was in the midst of a comeback after winning eight consecutive games from 0-2 in the third set.
Nadal was unable to sleep that night or calm the butterflies in his stomach as he lay in his room. It was almost midnight and Nadal was still restless, his mind on Djokovic’s comeback.
In a desperate attempt to relax, Nadal opened his computer and started watching Dragon Ball, the successful cartoon series inspired by Akira Toriyama’s manga. He managed to stop his mind from churning and was able to fall asleep.
Heavy rain meant the match was restarted on Monday at 13:00. Nadal won back the service break in the fourth set and prevailed 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 to win his seventh Coupe des Mousquetaires, surpassing Bjorn Borg’s record to become the most prolific winner in the tournament’s history.
“Call An Ambulance!”
After holding the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the ninth time at 2014 Roland Garros by defeating Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4, Nadal climbed into his team’s box to celebrate. When he reached Toni Nadal, his uncle and coach, the Spaniard covered his mouth and whispered into his ear that he needed an ambulance.
“He had been having cramps since the third set and he asked me to call an ambulance,” Toni explained. “I spoke to Angel Ruiz Cotorro [Nadal’s doctor] because he told me he didn’t have any saline solution. Afterwards, he went to see the doctor and he got better.
“Rafael was worse than Djokovic because he had cramps. Playing for an hour with cramps makes you hesitant all the time. You know that you have to run more than normal, that you have to be cautious. And that’s why the match required a few moments of brilliance. He knew that if we didn’t win it in the fourth set, it would be difficult to do so in the fifth.”
Nadal reiterated this when he spoke to journalists after the match.
“This was the French Open in which I’ve suffered the most physically,” Nadal said. “There have been moments when I felt very empty, very tired. I don’t know what would’ve happened in the fifth set. I guess I would’ve tried to find strength from somewhere, but I was really in a bad way and very much at my physical limit.
“Passion, motivation, the desire to win… All of that keeps you on court with the mentality that you want to do it. I don’t know what it was, but for whatever reason, I managed to handle it. I was able to suffer and find solutions. I coped with the physically difficult moments with very high-quality tennis. In one way or another, I found a way to win this title.”
A Replica Of The Coupe Des Mousquetaires
To celebrate Nadal’s 10th title at 2017 Roland Garros, a historic moment in the world of sport, the tournament decided to present him with a replica of the Coupe des Mousquetaires with “Rafa Nadal’s Tenth” engraved on it, something that has never been done for any other champion.
The tournament organisers had decided that the Spaniard should be the first player of all time to keep a Coupe des Mousquetaires, having won it on 10 occasions.
Normally, Roland Garros champions pose with the trophy after the final and the next day at an iconic part of the city, but the one they take home is a small replica. However, the tournament organisers decided to make a life-size replica of the Coupe des Mousquetaires that Nadal could display it in the museum of the Rafa Nadal Academy.
In addition, Roland Garros wanted to recognise Nadal’s 10th victory with a couple of special moments during the ceremony. Firstly, the fans in the stands held up cards to form an enormous mosaic that read “Bravo Rafa”, together with a huge 10 in reference to his 10 titles at the tournament. Toni Nadal was also given the honour of making a surprise appearance on court to present his nephew with a special trophy, breaking from the usual protocol.
The Day Chang Stunned Lendl At Roland Garros: ‘It Was About Survival’
Relive the classic match with exclusive insight from Chang’s coach
Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks ATPTour.com will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September.
Jose Higueras had mixed feelings as he watched his charge, Michael Chang, hit an underhand serve against top seed Ivan Lendl in the fourth round of Roland Garros in 1989. At the time, the coach didn’t realise that would become one of the most iconic moments in tennis history. Higueras didn’t even know if Chang would finish the match.
“It was about survival,” Higueras told ATPTour.com. “You do whatever you need to do to survive another day.”
Chang, a 17-year-old American, was competing at the clay-court Grand Slam for just the second time. He’d lost only one set en route to the Round of 16, including a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win against Pete Sampras. But his next opponent, Lendl, was a three-time Roland Garros champion, who was 36-2 on the season.
Lendl’s aggressive baseline game overpowered the teen for the first two sets, which the World No. 1 earned 6-4, 6-4.
“At the beginning, Michael was not too comfortable with the whole thing, competing on the centre court and playing Ivan Lendl,” Higueras said. “But as the match went on, he got more comfortable and started playing better and better, and Ivan got a little nervous. As the match got closer, Ivan got a little more tense, and Michael was just doing what he normally did, which was playing until the match was over.”
Higueras first began working with Chang towards the end of 1988, and he remembers a conversation they had about the American’s clay potential.
“I said, ‘Michael, I think if you keep working hard, you have a good chance to do well at the French Open in a few years,’” Higueras recalled. “He said, ‘Why not next year?’”
That same attitude carried into his match against Lendl. Chang was down, but Lendl didn’t eliminate his belief. Lendl’s power wasn’t intimidating him, either.
“Michael was a great counter-puncher, so he liked the pace. He used his speed well and was very smart,” Higueras said. “One thing he improved a lot in not a very long time was the fact that he used his speed to be more offensive. We all know Ivan had a big forehand, so it was pretty straightforward, really: He just played his forehand to his backhand.
“It was more about how Ivan was going to play, in my opinion, than how Michael was going to play. Ivan was going to be in charge of more of the points and dictating more. Once Michael got his teeth into the match, Ivan got pretty tense and that was a big equaliser for the whole thing.”
As Chang raised his level in the third and fourth sets, he began cramping. At the same time, Lendl’s level dropped, and Chang was on the comeback trail.
Chang earned an immediate break in the fifth set, but the cramps began to take their toll. Lendl kept clawing back each deficit he faced, but the American would rush the net, throw up pace-less balls high over the net, and do anything to keep the top seed from gaining rhythm or confidence.
At 4-3, 15/30, Chang was desperate. His legs were locking up, and he hit the only underhand serve of his career. Lendl approached the net, and Chang hit a forehand pass that his opponent couldn’t handle.
“Michael is a great competitor, and he was going to try to do whatever he could, anything legal, to actually win the match,” Higueras said. “What was going through my head was that Ivan was pretty tight.”
Higueras thought it was a good sign to see how tight Lendl was, but he wasn’t convinced the cramps wouldn’t defeat Chang.
“Sometimes you can get cramps and you can fight your way through,” Higueras said. “But sometimes it hits you very hard and you cannot play anymore.”
Fans around the world, including former NBA superstar Dirk Nowitzki, who was 10 at the time, were on the edge of their seats as Chang won that point and eventually held that service game,.
“It was fantastic. I think everybody was rooting for Michael at the time because he was the underdog. You could see how exhausted he was at the end. That was sort of his breakthrough,” Nowitzki told ATPTour.com. “Everybody always roots for the underdog, so I wanted Michael to win, even though I liked Ivan Lendl growing up.”
Lendl couldn’t take advantage of Chang’s cramps. In the next game, on match point, the teen stood just feet from the service box to return the World No. 1’s second serve.
“I just stood up there and tried to bother his concentration,” Chang said. “I just tried to do whatever I could.”
“Give him credit,” Lendl said. “It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to play with cramps.”
The job wasn’t done, as Chang was only into the quarter-finals. He defeated Ronald Agenor and Andrei Chesnokov in four sets each to set a final showdown against World No. 3 Stefan Edberg, who at the time was a three-time major champion.
“I actually thought he had a really good chance of winning that match because of the gamestyles,” said Higueras, adding Chang liked hitting against a target, and Edberg frequented the net.
Chang rallied from two sets to one down to become the youngest male Grand Slam champion in history, beating the Swede 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“That’s really when [the Lendl match] became a bigger thing for him. The match became a lot more important once he won the French Open,” Higueras said. “We wouldn’t talk about this as much if he didn’t win.”
Roland Garros Flashback: Wawrinka Outlasts Tsitsipas In Clash Of Generations
First ATP Head2Head meeting lasted more than five hours
After making his Grand Slam breakthrough with a semi-final run at the Australian Open earlier in the year, Stefanos Tsitsipas arrived at Roland Garros last year in top form.
The Greek entered the event with 10 wins in his past 12 matches, following a title run at the Millennium Estoril Open, a runner-up finish at the Mutua Madrid Open and a semi-final showing at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Following victories against Maximilian Marterer, Hugo Dellien and Filip Krajinovic, Tsitsipas met 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka for a place in the last eight. The match lasted five hours and nine minutes — the fourth-longest match in tournament history — and was voted by ATPTour.com as the second-best Grand Slam match of the year. Only Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer’s epic Wimbledon final was ranked higher.
On the opposite side of the net, Wawrinka was aiming to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final in two years after missing the second half of 2017 due to two surgeries on his left knee. During those two years, his opponent had risen from No. 205 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to capture three ATP Tour titles and the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals trophy.
The pair contested a bruising, physical battle of generations on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, showcasing incredible power from the baseline. After splitting the opening two sets, Wawrinka escaped danger early in the third set and moved one set from victory. The 16-time tour-level titlist’s ability to play well under pressure was a common theme throughout the match. The Swiss saved 22 of the 27 break points he faced.
As he did after losing the first set, Tsitsipas responded to tie the match. The 20-year-old broke in the sixth game of the fourth set, before changing the pace with a forehand drop shot to push the match to a decider after three hours and 52 minutes. Under pressure throughout the fifth set, Wawrinka saved three break points at 5-5 before claiming victory three games later.
On his second consecutive match point, the 2015 champion carved a slice backhand pass while Tsitsipas approached the net. Charging forward, the Greek elected to let the ball drift past him rather than attempt a forehand volley. Tsitsipas felt his decision was a wise one, circling the mark on the court before the ball was inspected and confirmed in by the chair umpire. By the tightest of margins, the contest had its winner. Jeu, set et match Wawrinka, 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6.
“I was pretty sure it was in. When I hit it, I saw it was on the line. I was just hoping that the umpire would confirm it,” said Wawrinka.
In a repeat of the 2015 quarter-finals, Wawrinka’s run came to an end in his next match against Roger Federer. The three-time Grand Slam champion also proved solid on break points in that match, saving 16 of Federer’s 18 opportunities, but fell in four sets after three hours and 35 minutes.
Wawrinka’s 2019 campaign at Roland Garros may not have ended with a fourth major crown, but the former World No. 3 made great progress during his visit to Paris. In front of a packed crowd, he had survived a marathon contest against one of the best talents in the sport to return to the last eight of a major championship.
“I’ve never experienced that kind of atmosphere here in Paris on Lenglen. I always had a lot of support, but I think today was really special,” said Wawrinka.
Flashback: Soderling’s Win Against Nadal At 2009 Roland Garros
ATPTour.com looks back at one of the biggest upsets in history
Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be in its second week. ATPTour.com is continuing to look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September. This story was originally published on 31 May 2019.
Ten years ago today, Robin Soderling pulled off what remains one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. The Swede, who ascended as high as No. 4 in the ATP Rankings, handed Rafael Nadal his first loss at Roland Garros, sending shockwaves through the sports world.
Nadal was the No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings at the time, and he had won all 31 of his matches on the Parisian terre battue, and all 48 of his best-of-five-set clay-court matches. But Soderling paid the statistics no mind, crushing 61 winners en route to his four-set shocker.
Although the Swede’s triumph resonated then, too, it is perhaps even more impressive today. After beating Belgian David Goffin Friday, Nadal has won 68 of his 69 matches at Roland Garros since that loss to Soderling. The 32-year-old has also added seven Coupe des Mousquetaires to his trophy cabinet, making 11 total at the clay-court Grand Slam.
The only other player to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros was Novak Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals. Soderling’s career would be cut short due to an extended bout with mononucleosis — he last competed in 2011 — but nobody will soon forget the day he stunned Nadal where nobody had done so before.
ATPTour.com looks back at the day Soderling earned the biggest victory of his career:
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World No. 25 Robin Soderling sent shockwaves through the tennis world on Sunday afternoon at Roland Garros as he put on a superb display to record the biggest victory of his career by sending four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal crashing out 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2) in the fourth round.
A packed Philippe Chatrier court watched on in disbelief as the Swede handed World No. 1 and reigning ATP World Tour champion Nadal his first defeat in 32 matches (31-1 record) at Roland Garros and his first-ever loss in a best-of-five-set clay-court match (48-1).
Since making his debut at Roland Garros in 2005, Nadal had lost just seven sets en route to winning four successive titles and was bidding to win an unprecedented fifth straight Coupe des Mousquetaires.
“This is not a tragedy, losing here in Paris. It had to happen one day, and this is an excellent season for me,” said Nadal. “Of course it’s a bit sad, but I have to overcome this as quickly as possible.
“Well, all of us athletes, we know that when we walk on the court we can either win or lose. I know it for a fact anything can happen, and I have to accept them both in the same way.”
The 24-year-old Soderling was appearing in his first Grand Slam fourth round and is the first Swedish man to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals since his coach, Magnus Norman went on to reach the final in 2000 (l. to Kuerten). In the Open Era, 10 different Swedish men have advanced to the Roland Garros quarter-finals.
After a low key start to the tournament, Nadal looked to have found his stride in the tournament when he dismissed Lleyton Hewitt for the loss of just five games in the third round. However, in Sunday’s encounter the Spaniard failed to reproduce the blistering form that saw off former World No. 1 Hewitt and largely struggled to impose his game at all on Soderling – who in turn played a brave match and maintained a calm demeanour until the last ball.
Aggressive play from Soderling right from the beginning kept Nadal off balance and stationed well behind the baseline as he raced to retrieve the barrage of shots struck mostly off Soderling’s firing forehand. The Swede executed to perfection and was rewarded with two breaks of serve in the first set to take it 6-2. It was the first time since the 2007 final against Federer that Nadal had lost a set at Roland Garros, and it was the second-harshest score line he had endured after the 6-1 set he lost to Federer in the 2006 final.
Nadal recovered quickly from the loss of the set and restored order early in the second set by breaking to lead 2-1 as Soderling faltered at the net. However, when the Spaniard came to serve for the set at 5-4, a forehand error granted Soderling the chance to level and he duly converted with an exquisite backhand volley. Nadal was reprieved though as Soderling could not maintain his high level in the tie-break and Nadal’s consistency prevailed to level the match at one-set all.
Where fans may have expected Soderling to be disheartened by the loss of the second set, the Swede was quick to dispel his doubters by remaining unfazed and rediscovered his top form from the first two sets. With Nadal struggling to impose his game on Soderling, the Swede stepped up to dictate play and expose the chinks in Nadal’s armour.
A rifling backhand into the corner earned Soderling two break points in the seventh game and he clinched a crucial break of serve with a strong backhand throwing Nadal off balance and forcing the error. Soderling, who had won just 11 matches in 2009 coming into Roland Garros, kept his composure when serving for the set at 5-4 and Nadal was powerless to defend against the big-hitting that clinched a two-sets-to-one lead for Soderling.
The 22-year-old Nadal looked set to mount the inevitable fight back at the start of the fourth set as he capitalised on a loose game from Soderling to break and lead 2-0. The Swede did not panic though and quickly regained the momentum by breaking back to love, sealing the game as an under-pressure Nadal hit a forehand long. With neither player able to make further impact on the other’s serve, the set went to a must-win tie-break for Nadal.
The Mallorcan, who was 6-1 lifetime in tie-break sets at Roland Garros prior to this match, still could not find his best tennis though and a stinging backhand pass – one of 61 winners he hit in the match – earned Soderling a mini-break lead at 3-1. An uncharacteristic error from Nadal handed Soderling the 4-1 advantage and he held both his service points to earn five match points at 6-1 – stunning the Philippe Chatrier court. Nadal’s fighting spirit saw him save the first with a forehand winner, but a forehand volley wide from the left-hander brought the crowd to their feet as he finally succumbed after three hours and 30 minutes.
“He didn’t surprise me because I know how he plays, how dangerous he can be,” said Nadal. “I didn’t play my best tennis. No, I didn’t attack in no one moment. I played very short, and I made it very easy for him to play at this level.
“I never was calm; that’s the truth. The match started off very badly for me. Sometimes it’s not enough fighting. You have to play a good level of tennis.
“Sometimes people think I win because I’m physically fit, but, no. When I win, it’s because I play well, and that wasn’t the case today. I must say that at key moments I couldn’t take the opportunity because I was losing my calm, and I didn’t play well.”
In his second-round win over Teimuraz Gabashvili, Nadal set an all-time record for consecutive match wins at Roland Garros. Had he defeated Soderling in straight sets on Sunday, he would have achieved the longest streak of consecutive sets won at any major since Borg won 41 in-a-row at Roland Garros between 1979 and 1981. His record, though, was ended at 32 – the second-longest streak in Roland Garros history behind Borg’s.
The Manacor resident had looked virtually infallible in the lead up to Roland Garros, suffering just one loss on clay to Roger Federer in the final of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open the day after he had saved three match points and spent four hours and three minutes on court in a dramatic semi-final win over Novak Djokovic. He had successfully defended his titles at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo (d. Djokovic) and Barcelona (d. Ferrer) and regained the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome title that he had won from 2005-7 with victory over Djokovic.
The left-hander had given himself the chance of winning the Grand Slam after winning his sixth Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open with back-to-back five-set victories over Fernando Verdasco and Roger Federer. He also added to his collection of 36 tour-level titles with victory at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (d. Murray).
Soderling vs. Nadal 2009 Roland Garros Match Statistics
First-Serve Points Won
Second-Serve Points Won
Break Points Converted
Return Points Won
In contrast, Soderling came into Roland Garros with an 11-10 match record on the season, highlighted by a semi-final showing at Auckland (l. to del Potro) and a quarter-final exit at Brisbane (l. to Stepanek).
The Tibro native’s best previous Grand Slam performances were third-round showings at 2008 Roland Garros, 2007 Wimbledon, the 2005 US Open and 2003 Wimbledon. The last Swedish player to reach a Grand Slam final was Thomas Johansson at the 2002 Australian Open, when he defeated Marat Safin
Soderling, who reached a career-high No. 15 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings in February this year, improved to a 13-32 win-loss record against Top 10 players having now won four of his past eight such meetings.
Soderling goes on to face Russian No. 10 seed Nikolay Davydenko, who caused a slight upset as he ousted eighth-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. Davydenko, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2005 (l. to Puerta) and 2007 (l. to Federer), committed just six unforced errors and hit 24 winners as he converted five of nine break points in the two-hour, 22-minute match.
The 27-year-old Davydenko, the only remaining Russian in the draw from the eight that started, has bounced back strongly from a left-heel injury that kept him sidelined for three months at the start of the season. Since returning, he has made semi-final showings at Barcelona (l. to Nadal) and Estoril (l. to Blake) and reached the quarter-finals at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo (l. to Murray).
World No. 8 Verdasco, who had not dropped a set en route to the fourth round, enjoyed a Grand Slam break through at the start of the season when he defeated World No. 4 Andy Murray and No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to the Australian Open semi-finals – where he lost to eventual champion Nadal in an epic five-set match. It is the first time this season that the 25 year old has not reached at least the quarter-finals in a tournament.
ATPTour.com looks at what your favourite players have been up to
Your favourite players are finding plenty of ways to keep busy this week. From Benoit Paire’s hair dye experiments, to Kei Nishikori tinkering with his game, find out how the world’s best players have been spending their days.