The French giving zero support to Nadal has to do more with their general attitude than their supposed love for Soderling. Let's be honest for a second. Nadal never got much love in Paris,even though he is a 4 times champion there. The French(well actually the parisians not all the french) are snobs and they like their champions to play beautifully,which is pretty funny,since clay champions are usually grinders a la Nadal/Muster/Borg and so on.
There are several facts going against Nadal in his quest for the approval of the RG crowd:
-he's a grinder and the french like players with elegant game and strokes.
-he's Spanish and for all those who know European realities,know that there is a underlying rivalry between the French and Spanish in a lot of areas,not just sports. It's like this with all big,important countries who are neighbors. It's not easy to see how the Spanish own them in football(both in the national team and clubs),win their GS slam event year after year,hell even in cycling Contador won the Tour de France.
-he doesn't speak French and in France that helps. It's no coincidence that Federer and Henin are so loved over there and it's only natural because you can connect to the player better if he speaks your language.
The French crowd wanted Nadal to lose so that Federer could win RG. It's as simple as that really. McEnroe knows more about tennis than any of us and if even he thought this behaviour strange then there is something to it and I don't think he is a *******. And he is not the only commentator who has mentioned that this is weird.To put it into perspective for Fed fans,it's like Federer getting little to no support in USO when he is in trouble because the newyorkers wanted Nadal to finally win and get a Career Slam. That would be an abomination,because Fed has always had the crowd on his side at his favourite slams.
The underdog theory falls flat on its face and I will tell you why in a minute. If the french wanted a better quality upset they would have rooted for Nadal in the end of the 4th because a 5 setter is a better dethroning of a champion and they would have seen more thrilling tennis,because they would have made it to a deciding set. But,unbelievably,the crowd rooted for Soderling in the 4th set tiebreak,even after they guy had gained a large lead(he won that tiebreak 7-1 or something like that). In the one moment when their 4 times champion needed a bit of support,because he could have pushed the match to 5 sets,the french chose not to give that support. Many commentators said on the spot how weird that moment was but they were probably *******s,right?
So Soderling eliminated Nadal. Does he receive a lot of love in the next rounds? Well not really,at least not like in the Nadal match. Then the final comes along. Soderling,the crowd favourite according to the underdog theory,is ignored by the crowd who turn to Federer,the huge favourite in that match. Besides soderling's box no one in that whole arena was rooting for Soderling,everybody wanted Fed to win. They cheered twice as hard for Fed's winners,gasped when Fed made errors and cheered on Soderling's mistakes. Kinda weird how they dumped the lovable underdog once their actual favourite player(fed) stepped on-court,isn't it? If they really liked Soderling,they would have pulled for him on that day but they didn't. They only turned to him when he got the job done,which was to take Nadal out.
But hey,who am I to accuse the crowd,right? Then again I trust McEnroe's words more than I trust some TW'ers who want to believe that Soderling was cheered on in RG because he was the underdog,not because the French wanted Nadal out.
I cannot take on board this total lack of affection from the French for Nadal. For a start, his looks must have stirred the blood of many a young French girl(and not so young at that). His game may not be that of a ballerina but his incredible self control and demeanour on court puts him in a class ( and I mean 'class' )of his own. Nadal has already set an example to the young by showing how you can be successful, rich and still be true to yourself. It is impossible to get a crowd just to support one player. There will also be the people who attend just to stir things up for the sake of it. No I cannot believe that the majority of the French were anti - Nadal. It is just that some people can shout that bit louder!