Soderling ends Nadal’s French Open reign 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), that win makes the title wide open.
An interview with: ROBIN SODERLING
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. When did you really feel that you could win this match? Already in the first set or in thethird? And also, Nadal just said herethat he made it easier for you. Do youthink you agree or think it’s the opposite, you maybe make things difficult forhim?
ROBIN SODERLING: I don’t know. You know, I try to keep telling myself before the match that, you know,I have to believe. Of course, I toldeverybody this is the biggest challenge you can have, I think, playing Nadal,the best clay‑court player of all times on clay, best‑of‑five sets in RolandGarros.
But still, you know, Ihave to believe that I have a chance, otherwise there’s no meaning going on thecourt. I could just go homeinstead. I tried to keep telling myselfthat, you know, at least I have a small chance.
I can’t really ‑‑ I mean, I played agreat match. I played a greatmatch. I think I played very good nowfor two weeks in a row, four good matches here. If he thinks he played bad, I mean, that’s his choice. I would never say something like that, but…
Q. Itlooked as if you were sent by a special mission from Sweden by Borg to protect hisrecord. You could clarify us on thatmaybe?
ROBIN SODERLING: I’m expecting at least an SMS from him.
Q. And the second thing is how did you manage to keep up this calmness andthis power tennis at the same level throughout the same match? Do you think that like when Djokovic lost toKohlschreiber, did it give you any hopes that anything is possible, that therecan be a new world order in the top…
ROBIN SODERLING: No, not really. But, you know, during the whole match, I kepttelling myself, this is just another match. I mean, I played many, many matches on the ATP tour. I’m getting old.
I’ve been around for awhile, and I kept telling myself, This is just another match. I don’t care if it’s the fourth round inFrench against Nadal. This is just likeany match. That helped me. That helped me.
Q. We saw you in the game. We sawyou walking off the court. What have youdone since? I mean, you were at the TV,I saw that. Did you do some celebratingin the locker room, or what have you done?
ROBIN SODERLING: Yeah, I had to take a few minutes just formyself, you know, to think about the match. I haven’t even put my cellphone on yet. You know, at the same time, I’m very, very happy.
This is maybe ‑‑it is my ‑‑ the biggest moment of my career so far. You know, I also want to try to concentrateon the next matches. There’s one morematch to go against a great player, so I don’t want to feel too happy.
Q. You had a wrist injury a few years ago, which is one of the hardestinjuries to come back from. MatsWilander said that he thought in the end it actually made you a betterplayer. Can you talk about whether youwere ever concerned you could play on the elite level again, and do you agreewith Mats?
ROBIN SODERLING: Yes, you know, I was a little bit luckybecause it was my left wrist, so I could ‑‑ I was off the tour for maybefive or six months, but I practiced a lot tennis. You know, I practiced my slice and my forehand. I couldn’t do anything except for my two‑handedbackhand.
It would have beenworse for my right wrist. I used timevery well. Instead of just waiting forthe wrist to heal, I did everything I could. I was working out three, four hours in the gym every day. I played a lot of tennis, so, yeah, maybe.
Yeah, maybe it helped me. Maybe.
Q. Youhad a fairly aggressive match against him at Wimbledona couple years ago, as I remember. Doyou think it helped you, the fact that maybe you’re not sort of the bestfriends with him and that you played such an aggressive match today?
ROBIN SODERLING: I mean, I’ve been answering these questionsnow for two years. I mean, I’m feelingpretty tired of this. We had a good matchin Wimbledon. Of course, a tough match, which I lost.
But, you know, I beensaying this a lot of times on the tour: He’s just another player on the tour. Again, he’s the best clay‑court player of all times, but he’s just likesomeone else to me.
Q. One month ago you lost against Nadal 6‑1, 6‑0. Today you win. How can you explain it? Is it the game of your life today?
ROBIN SODERLING: No, no, I think I played actually ‑‑ Iplayed well today, but I think I played some even better matches in my career.
Yeah, I lost 1 and0. I don’t think I never lost that bigin my career before. You know, I had alot of chances in the first set. I hadso many break points, so it didn’t feel really fair, the score.
In the second, you know, I kind of played acouple of sloppy games. But it was amuch closer match than the score.
Q. Tennis‑wise,coming back into that match, what was the key? What was the hardest for you maybe from the tactic you had to do then onthe court?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, you know, I try to ‑‑ I tried tobe the one that was, you know ‑‑ I didn’t want him to make me run. I tried to be the one that make him run. I worked good with my forehand, and mybackhand worked well, as well. I workedmy backhand flat and tried to go around and hit my forehand.
I think I playedexactly the way I wanted to play before the match. I served well, extremely well, and thatreally, really helped me today.
Q. Has there been any reaction from the other players around so far? Do they look at you in a different way now?
ROBIN SODERLING: I don’t know. The locker room was pretty empty. There’s not that many matches on right now. I’m not sure. We’ll see tomorrow.
Q. Say 20, 25 years from now when your kids come up and say, Hey, it’s the25th anniversary of that great win, what do you think the one or two words thatwill come to mind on this great victory will be?
ROBIN SODERLING: Actually, I’m not sure yet. But this is for sure the biggest moment sofar of my career.
I couldn’t even dreamof this before the match, so I will remember this match for the rest of mylife, I think.
Q. Are you in a little bit of shock right now?
ROBIN SODERLING: No, I’m not really shocked, but, you know, itwill probably take a while before I can really think about it in a good way, ina right way, you know.
It feels verydifferent, though.
Q. Go through your thought process when he won the tiebreak, then you gotdown a break early in the fourth set. Imean, kept expecting him to seize control of the match, and you never let ithappen. Secondly, can you talk a littlebit about Magnus Norman and when you started working with him and what he’sbrought to your game?
ROBIN SODERLING: He definitely helped me a lot. You know, he’s been a great player. What I like is that I can really askhim ‑‑ when I feel something, I always like to ask him, Did you feel thesame when you were playing? How did youfeel?
I think that is reallyhelping me a lot.
Q. And the first part?
ROBIN SODERLING: Again?
Q. Just with Nadal. I mean when hewon the tiebreak and you got down a break in the fourth and we kept expectinghim to take control of the match and you never let it happen, what was goingthrough your mind?
ROBIN SODERLING: I tried to think, don’t think, because, youknow, I just tried to play the next point after next point. You know, I won the first set, and I felt ifI can win one set, why not the second one and then the third one?
I’ll just keep ‑‑I kept, you know, playing point for point.
Q. As you have said, you have to think now about the next match. All the players say next match. But is there something in your mind that,well, perhaps I can reach the final? Wenever know?
ROBIN SODERLING: No, no. I don’t like to think like that. I just won a great match today, and it will be at least as tough. My next match will be at least as tough astoday. I have to play my best tennisagain to have a chance.
Q. You won against Nadal, so now you have to win the tournament.
ROBIN SODERLING: No. Iwouldn’t say that. As I said, everybodyin the courts, everybody in the tournament are great players. I mean, I think I can beat anyone. But I think, you know, in a bad day I canlose to a lot of players, as well. They’re all good, so I have to play well.
Q. Have you already talked to Bjørn Borg, or do you plan to talk to himjust to say, Well, I keep your record?
ROBIN SODERLING: Well, as I’m saying, I’m expecting anSMS. I’m not going to call him. Hopefully he will call me. That would be great.
Q. What was your match plan going into the match? What did you have to do to try to beat himtoday, the strategy?
ROBIN SODERLING: My strategy was to play aggressive. You can’t really try to beat him in runninghim down, because, you know, for sure I had to take some chances. I think I did, and, you know, I playedextremely well on the important points.
I returned well, and Ididn’t miss a lot. I tried to work mygame with my forehand, make him move, and, again, you know, it was ‑‑ Ithink I played exactly the way I wanted to play for the match.