The reign endeth

AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Well, Sod this. I’m going to cut to the chase: Rafa lost for the first time at Roland Garros. He went down to Soderling 2-6 7-6(7-2) 4-6 6-7(2-7) in the round of 16 today. Soderling came out firing. He had a game plan to play aggressively and get to the net as much as possible and, for most of the match, was able to execute that plan without playing beyond himself. Rafa never got into a solid rhythm. In fact, this felt a lot like the Madrid final.


Nadal Soderling
Aces 3 9
Double Faults 2 0
1st Serve % 77% 64%
1st Serve Points Won 66/99 (67%) 62/91 (68%)
2nd Serve Points Won 13/29 (45%) 32/52 (62%)
Return Points Won 49/143 (34%) 49/128 (38%)
Break Points Conversions 2/4 (50%) 5/6 (83%)
Unforced Errors 28 59
Winners (including service) 33 61
Net Approaches 6/11 (55%) 27/35 (77%)
Total Points Won 128 143
Fastest Serve Speed 200 KMH 226 KMH
Average 1st Serve Speed 177 KMH 199 KMH
Average 2nd Serve Speed 136 KMH 166 KMH

As it happened blatherings:

I spent most of the first set pissed that TTC weren’t showing the match on TV or online. I’m guessing NBC has the rights to this and has blocked everyone else. They will probably show it on a tape delay later today. So wrong.

When I do finally get a feed (thanks to some kind Twitter people), Rafa’s down a break and Soderling has a break point to get the set. Well, crap!
Kalliopeia: this is the only person Rafa could lose to that would make me sicker than losing to Djokovic
Kalliopeia: oh for crying out loud, rafa, at least make the jackass serve for it

Nope. Rafa loses a set after 32 consecutive set wins at Roland Garros: 2-6. First lost set since 2007.

Soderling is playing aggressively and storming the net at all costs. So far, it appears to be working for him rather well.

Kalliopeia: he hasn’t even had a chance at a break? argh.

Soderling is totally dictating points. Rafa’s retreated to passive grinding mode. Good serve from Rafa – he follows it into the net and wins the point. More of that, please.

Kalliopeia: yes, that was a good point, he should be doing more of that
Kalliopeia: be aggressive, don’t just run around all day

Soderling’s pushing a little and making a few forced errors now. Rafa has game point. (How sad that that’s not the norm in the match so far!) Game Rafa and a mini-first pump too.

Dang, Soderling settling again. Rafa works his way to deuce on Soderling’s game, but sends a ball long and Soderling has a game point. Soderling sends a shot wide and it’s deuce again. A long shot from Soderling and Rafa has break point. Rafa breaks with a very nice passing shot! I thought he’d gotten himself out of that point with a few short balls, but he turned it around. 2-0 second set.

I’m trying to convince myself that the first set was just the universe’s way of keeping Rafa humble. The universe knows Rafa doesn’t need a lot of help in that area, though.
This service game got off with a nice start, but now it’s 40-30. Game and a “Vamos!” for Rafa. 3-1

Beautiful return of serve from Rafa.

Kalliopeia: I love the way he always seems to be urging those balls out
Kalliopeia: did you see the way he did that, following it with his head? Heheh
Kalliopeia: it’s like the slightly less embarrassing equivalent of flailing with your hands, urging it out
Kalliopeia: which i tend to do myself during rafa’s matches.

Deuce on Soderling’s serve. Soderling nets a ball and Rafa has a break point. Rafa nets a ball – deuce. Soderling aces. Soderling holds for 3-2.

Kalliopeia: bah, I have to go now
Kalliopeia: send me a text update at the end of sets?
miri: If he loses…. ;)
Kalliopeia: :(
Kalliopeia: He won all week without me!
miri: he needs his rafa-bankie!
Kalliopeia: you can do it rafa
Kalliopeia: I’ll feel so guilty if he loses. Haha
Kalliopeia: okay. vamos rafa!
Kalliopeia: bye!

Rafa in control of a point and then Soderling hits a deep ball and draws an error. Deuce. Rafa holds: 4-2.

Soderling continuing with the deep/wide serve and then following it into the net. It’s been a very effective strategy for him. Short shot from Soderling and Rafa stomps on it, but it’s the only point he’ll win in that game. Soderling holds with ease: 4-3.

Rafa sends a ball long at the end of a long rally and Soderling gets the first point on Rafa’s service game. Not a good drop shot from Rafa – it set up far too high. Rafa’s down 0-30 on his serve. Soderling sends a shot long: 15-30. Soderling totally had a point in the bag, but ends up blowing it: First big knee list/fist pump/Vamos! of the match. Rafa holds for 5-3.

The net-cord shows Soderling some love. Stupid net-cord. Rafa just rifled a forehand into the net. *sigh*Soderling sends a shot long and Rafa has a point in the game. Soderling holds.

Complete miss-hit by Rafa – wonder if it jumped off the line or something? 15-15 Soderling overhits a shot and sends it long. Rafa nets a ball – 30-30. Rafa’s shot clips the net and falls back onto his side of the court. Break point for Soderling. Soderling breaks with an excellent stretch volley on an attempted passing shot. 5-5

Soderling’s back in aggressive mode. Rafa threads the needle on a passing shot: 15-15. Soderling nets a ball: 15-30. The net-cord loves Rafa this time: break point. Second serve. Rafa needs to stop with the short balls. Deuce. My feed is getting increasingly blobular. It better not crap out on me! Rafa nets a ball – game point for Soderling. The bandana/tension meter is rising. Soderling aces to hold: 5-6.

Crowd going crazy – they love the underdog.

Soderling pounces on a short ball: 0-15. Smoking forehand from Soderling: 15-30. Beautiful drop shot from Rafa! 30-30. Soderling sends a shot just wide: 40-30. Another wide shot and Rafa holds. Tiebreak.

Soderling 5-4 in tiebreaks; Rafa is 10-4. Mini-break to Rafa. Soderling nets a ball: 2-0. Soderling sends a shot wide: 3-0. Soderling pushing: 4-0. More net-cord love for Rafa: 5-0. Rafa hits deep and it’s 6-0. Toni looking much more relaxed. Soderling gets one mini-break back. Rafa set up his shot perfectly..and then hits the ball into the net. 6-2 with Soderling to serve the next two points. Soderling sends a shot long: second set to Rafa.

Rafa serving to start the third. Beautiful shot from Rafa – cross court backhand that lands in the corner behind Soderling. Rafa holds easily.

Rafa’s backhand bounced before it got to the net – so weird. Deuce on Soderling’s serve. Nice smash from Soderling and he has game point. He holds: 1-1 3rd set.

Double fault from Rafa. Beauty of a slice backhand and Soderling nets the return. Rafa returns the favor: 15-30. Another netted ball from Soderling: 30-30. Bad mis-hit from Soderling and it’s 40-30. Ace! Rafa holds.

Good passing shot from Soderling. And an excellent angled cross-court backhand from him. 30-0. Soderling holds at love.

Rafa holds at love. On serve 3rd set: 3-2.

Soderling attacking nicely again – not pushing. He holds an easy game.

It cracks me up how TTC is pretending this match isn’t happening at all. And by “cracks up” I mean, “pisses me off to no end.”

Rafa sends two shots long: 0-30. I said, “deeper” Rafa – not long. Soderling mis-hits a shot way wide: 15-30. Good backhand from Soderling. He has a break point. Make that double break point. Rafa saves one with a smoking forehand. He can’t save another. Soderling breaks: 3-4 third set.

Rafa plays human backboard and it’s 15-15 on Soderling’s next serve. Rafa’s down! Trips and almost face plants on the clay. Seems to be okay, though. Soderling holds: 3-5.

Good drop shot from Soderling and he goes up on Rafa’s serve. He sends a shot wide and it’s 15-15. He moves Soderling well for 30-15. Aggressive play and fierce forehand from Soderling: 30-30. Soderling nets a ball. Rafa holds with a fierce forehand and a loud Vamos! 4-5.

Second serve – Rafa jumps on it, but pushes it long. Soderling stomps on a sitter return from Rafa: 30-0. Rafa sails a forehand: 40-0. Triple set point for Soderling. Rafa nets a ball: 3rd set to Soderling. Soderling up 2 sets to 1. Rafa has never played a 5 set match at Roland Garros. He’ll have to today to win. Perhaps Rafa shouldn’t have trounced him so badly last time…

Rafa holds to start set 4.

Fantastic stretched forehand from Soderling: 15-0. My feed freezes and suddenly, Rafa has double break point. Rafa gets a shot low to Soderling forehand and he can’t handle it: break to Rafa. 2-0 in the fourth.

Soderling takes control of a second serve: 0-15. Rafa nets a ball: 0-30. Soderling bounces on some short shots from Rafa and has triple break point. Soderling tees off on a second serve, takes control of the point and breaks Rafa at love.

Soderling cracks a wicked forehand at 30-30 for a game point. He nets a ball and it’s deuce. Good serve volley combo and Soderling has a game point. Short return from Rafa and Soderling holds. 2-2 in the fourth.

Beautiful forehand down the line from Rafa. Another Vamos! And it’s 30-0. Rafa holds at love.

Mild heart attack as my feed momentarily switches to golf. Soderling holds at love: 3-3.

Fierce forehand from Rafa: 15-0. Equally fierce backhand from Soderling: 15-15. Ace! Well constructed and executed point from Rafa – moving Soderling wider and wider: 30-15. Service winner and Rafa holds: 4-3.

Rafa nets a ball and sends one long – gifting Soderling a 30-0 lead. The match enters it’s third hour. Wicked forehand from Rafa. Soderling pushes Rafa deep and follows it into the net. Wins the point with a good volley that has Rafa slipping and sliding. Soderling sends a shot just long. Soderling closes the game with a strong serve and stronger forehand.

My feed just died. That sentence looks much calmer than I feel. Someone found me a feed in Spanish just as Soderling holds for 5-5.

Rafa sends a shot long: 0-15. Soderling sends a shot out. I can’t tell if it’s long or wide on the wee feed, but I don’t care – it’s out. 15-15 Game to Rafa: 6-5 on serve.

Safina watching the match.

Soderling threads the needle on a passing shot: 15-0. Rafa plays aggressively pushing Soderling deep and then finishing off at the net: 15-15. Good smash from Soderling: 30-12. Ace. Massive error from Soderling on a sitter: 40-30. Rafa digs out a deep ball and somehow hits a winner: deuce. Soderling paints a line – game point. Boo-boo from Soderling: deuce. Rafa digs out two deep balls, but it’s not enough: game point Soderling. Service winner – Soderling holds. Tiebreak.

Long rally ends in an error from Rafa – mini-break to Soderling. 2-0 Soderling. Boo-boo gives a mini-break back: 1-2. Another mini-break to Soderling thanks to an excellent passing shot: 1-3. Second serve. Bad error from Rafa: 1-4. Rafa nets a ball and it’s 1-6. Rafa guts out a tough point: 2-6. Soderling wins. Rafa loses for the first time at Roland Garros.
That’s the quickest I’ve ever seen Rafa leave the court.

I didn’t see any sign of injury, but I’m now wondering why Rafa needed extra work from Maymo Friday. Soderling played smart and he played well, though. Damn him. Gee, what was it Rafa said in that “French Open Tonight” interview? “Well, I’m going to lose.”

Nole and Rafa out…if Roger doesn’t win this, he’s an idiot.

222 Responses

  1. AnaR says:

    Hi, everyone

    In this address you can left messages of support to Rafa..

    Here is the link

  2. faecoleman says:

    I am with you on the performance of the French crowd AnaR, you couldn’t put it better, thanks for the link, I have used it thank you, I have also written about the French crowds cheering for Robin yesterday to many newspapers, it was a disgrace, we too here in the uk have respect for sportsman all over, like Michael phelps and the spanish cyclists are great, I am sure Rafa will get his well deserved welcome at both Wimbledon and Queens. You would think that being such a gracious champion and athelete the French would no better, they certainly do not care what is good for Tennis! or their tournament the fools. I am going to Wimbledon this year and am awaiting my tickets to go to the O2 so I! will be cheering our Rafa all the way and will share all my experiences on here. Its so nice to be able to share it with those that understand, my father couldn’t wait to tell me that Rafa had lost yesterday, but after watching the highlights later that evening it was the crowds behaviour that upset me the most and Rafa’s anger toward a spectator when asking for a signature was certainly justified, I don’t blame him, apparently he said “ask the winner for an autograph! ” (in other words the one you were cheering for!)

    • loverafa4ever says:

      Did he say that?? Did he ask the spectator to ask the winner for an autograph… Nice one Rafa! I really liked the way Rafa opened up after this loss… Telling the press that its disappointing to lose at a grand slam where he had better chance to win than the rest… asking the reporter if anybody has done wat he has done here before? He is always so nice that even this bit makes me feel better…

    • roxanne anderson says:

      I watched the ending of the Rafa match several times. He did not say ask the winner. He attempted to sign and somthing rude was said to him. Gossip garbage I see!

      • faecoleman says:

        Really? thats soo bad, I was only going by what the BBC said I didn’t hear him myself. How could they be rude to Rafa? no wonder he was disappointed what an attitude.

  3. Atch2 says:

    I still believe it’s true. When the tv was turned off, I went to the French Open website to check the score again. I couldn’t sleep the whole night bec i kept thinking about it and thinking about it. I couldn’t even eat like I normally do today. Losing is one thing, but losing to that Sod guy is the worst case scenario.

    I think the furthest Sod may go is the semis. One hit wonder. And like the rest of the yr, he will fade into the background.

    I didn’t know how to handle Rafa’s lost, but after reading his interview and reading everyone’s comments, I feel heaps better.

    Thanks everyone. Vamos Rafa. We have Wimby and the US Open to conquere next. The career grand slam will happen this yr for Rafa!!

    • vamsi says:

      i m also one of the fans still trying to get over this
      it feels so terrible
      it is really nice to see that lot of people are concerned
      i woke up in the morning (not that slept well even for one hour) hoping it was a dream
      one loss does not make him less great he is still the 4 time champ
      and he is still the proud owner if philip chatrier

      and the bigW and US open are waitin


  4. faecoleman says:

    fingers cross everyone, wouldn’t it be marvelous if Rafa got the U.s open.

  5. Gigi says:

    I’m new to this site (great site, thanks Miri!) and just wanted to say that I was at Roland Garros yesterday. I had been looking forward to this weekend for six months but what a disappointment! That crowd was very disrespectful. I tried to encourage Rafa as much as I could but everyone else seemed to enjoy seeing Rafa loose! Even when he made some great points, they hardly applauded him.
    I talked to some French people and they explained that they just wanted to see how Rafa would react if they all supported the other guy… They were pretty much the same in the other matches by the way, except for Rogers of course. During Rafa’s match there were actually a lot of people yelling for Roger.

    Next year, I’ll try to get tickets for Wimbledon, rather than the French Open :)

    • vamsi says:

      i will be waiting for that
      hope u have a good time
      be really lucky for rafa
      vamos rafa!!

    • vamsi says:

      great effort from u
      nice to hear that there is even one supporter for rafa in the crowd

  6. Ana says:

    eh ..everyone,

    Tonight.. Rodick against Monfils in RG.. I hope very much that the great Roddick won Monfils. I hope so! and just now Delpo win against Tsonga..Vamos Andy!

  7. miri says:

    Sharapova has some nice things to say about Rafa:

    Former women’s number one Maria Sharapova believes Nadal will come back stronger from his shock exit.

    “I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and for his fight and for the way he deals with everything and just goes on court and performs and gives it 120 percent every time,” she said.

    “Sometimes you leave that court with a win and sometimes you lose. It’s just part of the game. He has a great head on his shoulders. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

    • vamsi says:

      hey where did u get that?

    • rez says:

      so much respect for Rafa on WTA (Serena, Safina, …).

      • vamsi says:

        you know i have read somewhere thatjelena jankovic said that roger should stop poking his nose in others business and try to be a gracoius champ like rafa

    • faecoleman says:

      Hey Miri, I read that yesterday too, good on her, the Wta seem to have alot of respect for Rafa don’t they between them.

    • johanne says:

      Maria on the RG crowd:

      “You’re ranked outside the top 100, so people like you. When you’re No. 1 in the world, for some reason they don’t like you anymore. It’s amazing how the society works. Especially here in France, I think they always love the underdog, and they always love the one that comes back from behind, or the one that’s not expected to win. I’m probably that person.”

      –Maria Sharapova on the change of attitude from the Roland Garros fans, who booed her off the court in 2007 and ’08

  8. Ana says:

    Here is an last interview with Toni Nadal .. is the first time I have seen Toni speak ill of someone or something .. but we must understand it.

  9. AnaR says:

    Toni Nadal: “The Parisian public is pretty stupid”
    Coach Rafa Nadal’s uncle gave an interview to the program The Window de la Cadena Ser in which harshly criticized the attitude of the public with the tennis Spanish in RG. “The French resent the success of a Spanish. When Rafa’s training is one of the players who attracted most attention, but when he play they want to lose,” he said. Toni Nadal was very annoyed with the attitude that has taken the audience to Roland Garros with his nephew and disciple, Rafa Nadal. “The Parisian public is pretty stupid,” he said angrily.

    the disappointment that left Nadal out off the final round has joined sadness of manacorí due to the lack of public support for a tournament he has won up to four times. “To the French resent the success of a Spanish. When Rafa is on practicing is one of the players who attracted most attention, but when he is playing they want to lose. If happiness is based in defeat to the other seems like a bad philosophy” .The coach of player world number one admitted that “the reality is that a defeat is painful because it comes at the tournament. If you have any special meaning or not? Time will tell. This result falls within the logic, because it is losing within like we can learn. ” Nevertheless, Toni did not seek excuses for the defeat of his nephew in the tournament in Paris. “He played very badly and was Soderling better. I saw him more nervous than usual, with no confidence and low accuracy in the knocks. Hopefully we can do wipe the slate clean. I realize that it is always difficult to win. Rafa is trying to be in the best possible conditions, not only because victory depends on you “, concluded.

    Rez, more o less this is the translate..

    • vamsi says:

      did he really say this
      this wont help
      french croud will really get angry
      i think u are french and u must be dissapointed

    • rez says:

      Thanks so much Ana. This is so strange to me. I always thought French people would support the Spanish players. Considering all the success they’ve had in RG and also being their neighbors. Apparently, this is not true:( I hope he comes back strongly next year and win it with total dominance.

      • vamsi says:

        we both share same feeling
        i also thoght that french supported spanish
        but i think that they should start respecting players from their game

  10. vamsi says:

    did he really say that
    this wont help
    french people will get angry
    like u must be really angry

  11. clem says:

    The french crowd is disgusting so I’m glad Uncle toni called them out on their pitiful, classless behavior. If the Parisians cannot appreciate a great champion as they had in Rafa for four years then they deserve nothing!

    I personally feel that Rafa has not been the same since he won the Australian Open. He has not played with the same eagerness, focus, and intensity as he had years before. perhaps knocking Federer off his throne and taking his crowns has killed his hunting instinct? I do not know but I do know that Rafa was not playing anywhere near his best self either in the Madrid final nor at Roland Garros all week. He looks tired and the outfits change was unnecessary.

    Something has gone amiss and I can’t place my finger on it. It is driving me mad. Does anybody have any theories why the Rafa train has derailed temporarily???

    Thank you for your response. I am new here but I read this blog often.

    • Trish says:

      My take — and of course, this is just MY TAKE — I think that Rafa is used to coming from behind — and now that he is on top and winning almost everything — he is a little lost on top of the hill … he is somewhat uncomfortable with it?

      For so long he had something (someone) higher than him — but now, the usual goals need to change — and maybe it is taking a bit more time to adjust to those goal changes?

      My guess … again — guys, it is just a guess .. I dont know Rafa and I dont know.

      • faecoleman says:

        No I absolutely agree with you trisha, this is excactly whats happening, or at least from Rafa,s nervous on court demeanour of late and lack of confidence as he’s Uncle says this is what shows, and we all know how Rafa used to be so what other reason could it be? I just hope he can find away to work through this, he has fault so hard, just goes to show how tough it really is to stay at the top, maintain that level, day in and day out. Rafa’s character is all about fighting to get there, to get through, the competition as he puts it. He needs to get that fire back, what we love about him the most, sure hope he does coz the tennis world needs the likes of Rafa. The uniquest player of all time! and the fittest the game has seen for along time too!

  12. Atch2 says:

    Miri, do u know where we can send Birthday wishes to Rafa?

  13. tiemyshoe says:

    Well, at least he’s back playing golf. This cheers me up –

    Yesterday, the champion wrote his last Roland Garros Blog entry from his home (where he explained in more detail his thoughts about the tournament) and then spent the rest of his day relaxing, playing golf with his uncle Toni and uncle Miguel Angel, and later enjoyed a trip to the beach with his friends” (from the official site).

    – because if there’s anyone who can put the RG disaster in perspective, it’s those two uncles. Miguel Angel especially – he’ll remember that he missed a penalty for the Spanish national team at Wembly, and put them out of the European Cup. Great athletes overcome these things. Vamos tios!