What do you truly believe about the Nadal/Soderling 2009 FO Match?

What do you truly believe about the Nadal/Soderling 2009 FO Match?

  • Soderling was in God-mode and Rafa's level wasn't good enough to stay with him.

    Votes: 100 74.6%
  • Rafa's loss was primarily due to a drop in Nadal's level (due to injury/fatigue/psychology)

    Votes: 34 25.4%

  • Total voters
    134
#1
I know that this is an old topic, but now that we are 10 years removed from it and can look back with some distance (and perhaps even gain thereby a more objective and less polemical perspective), how do we view the infamous Nadal/Soderling match of the of the 2009 FO?

Two basic interpretations:
1. Soderling was in God-mode and Rafa's NORMAL level wasn't good enough to stay with him.

2. Soderling was surprisingly good but Rafa's level was clearly down (due to injury or psychological distress) and he was proven beatable at the French.

How do you vote and why?
Note: Obviously these two things are not mutually exclusive, and obviously Soderling had to hit a certain level to win, but one factor should outweigh the other.

 
Last edited:
#2
That clay was surprisingly fast. It was almost as if the clay was sped up deliberately to stop a certain player from winning and increase players chances of winning.
 
#6
Both obviously, add heavier conditions hurting Nadal's game and helping Söderling's.

However, Nadal being off his best is not as unique as it is made to be, even at RG. In most years except his best (and 05 somehow), he had at least a mild scare at some point: 06 Mathieu, 11 Isner, 13 Brands, 14 Ferrer, 18 Schwartzman. All of these guys were up a set (Isner was up two sets to one), but couldn't keep up and Nadal eventually beat them into submission. Unlike them, Söderling did NOT drop level after losing the second set, but continued to bludgeon the ball with complete self-belief. That's what made his performance so incredibly special and ultimately led to Nadal losing for the first time.

So I've voted the first option with an honest mind, think it's fair after all.
 
#7
Still a GIGANTIC upset, but Rafa had an off day. It was one of those very few times where he just didn't look ready to play a match on Chatrier..... (like Isner 2011).
He would have beaten any other player though, I can't really recall any soderling type of player then. Safin was gone, Blake was gone, etc. I genuinely think Nadal still beats Federer in 4 here.


Don't forget, Soderling hated Nadal here. It probably helped him. Others were to scared or showed too much respect. Potentially a zoning JMDP could have troubled him????
 
#8
Still a GIGANTIC upset, but Rafa had an off day. It was one of those very few times where he just didn't look ready to play a match on Chatrier..... (like Isner 2011).
Nadal had such an off day every other RG, he's still human and doesn't always play his best, no?
It was always more than enough for any pre-SF opponent as it should be, Söderling really played far better than could've possibly been expected... and so it happened.
I would submit that if Nadal faced that Söderling in SF/F, he would've likely won, being prepared to face the best at that point.
 
#9
both? the thing is, even if nadal wasn't a 100%, it still takes a huge amount of effort to defeat him on clay, especially during that period. Soderling was playing like a beast, if I recall.
Obviously, but the question is which factor was more significant. One has to outweigh the other ultimately.
 
#10
both? the thing is, even if nadal wasn't a 100%, it still takes a huge amount of effort to defeat him on clay, especially during that period. Soderling was playing like a beast, if I recall.
Exactly. This thread presuposes a false dichotomy.

How about both? Nadal skipped Queens and Wimbledon due to tendinitis after RG 2009 (and he was the defending champion of both tournaments), so he wasn't 100% fit. Maybe 90%, which is still ultra-impressive. Soderling is the only man to defeat young Nadal at RG, his level of play was ridiculous that day.
 
#11
Obviously, but the question is which factor was more significant. One has to outweigh the other ultimately.
Not necessarily. You are assuming one of the factors must be more relevant, which is a false dichotomy. It is perfectly possible that both factors were equally relevant.
 
#12
Not necessarily. You are assuming one of the factors must be more relevant, which is a false dichotomy. It is perfectly possible that both factors were equally relevant.
OK, but arguably by asserting their equal relevance here you are siding with Nadal. If Nadal's level was down then Soderling didn't topple the "true" Claydal, which is really a key point.
 
#13
He would have beaten any other player though, I can't really recall any soderling type of player then. Safin was gone, Blake was gone, etc. I genuinely think Nadal still beats Federer in 4 here.


Don't forget, Soderling hated Nadal here. It probably helped him. Others were to scared or showed too much respect. Potentially a zoning JMDP could have troubled him????
Nadal had such an off day every other RG, he's still human and doesn't always play his best, no?
It was always more than enough for any pre-SF opponent as it should be, Söderling really played far better than could've possibly been expected... and so it happened.
I would submit that if Nadal faced that Söderling in SF/F, he would've likely won, being prepared to face the best at that point.
I get what you mean, but no one beats a well playing Nadal on Chatrier. It still hasn't happened to this day. As well as Soderling played, we can all agree Rafa was subpar, and I need say nothing about 2015.....
 
#15
Still a GIGANTIC upset, but Rafa had an off day. It was one of those very few times where he just didn't look ready to play a match on Chatrier..... (like Isner 2011).
I tend to agree with this interpretation.
Isner is an excellent analogy.

Rafa had something going on (maybe a combination of physical pain and psychological lack of motivation, or maybe even a touch of overconfidence heading into the match).

If Soderling's level were the key variable, one would think that he could have conjured that beast at least once more on clay in their 2010 or 2011 matches (if only for a set). On the contrary, Soderling lost all 6 of those sets easily.
 
#16
I get what you mean, but no one beats a well playing Nadal on Chatrier. It still hasn't happened to this day. As well as Soderling played, we can all agree Rafa was subpar, and I need say nothing about 2015.....
But Nadal played well enough to beat anyone else, save an absolutely zoning JMDP who can match Soderling's game style.

You must understand what I mean?
 
#17
But Nadal played well enough to beat anyone else, save an absolutely zoning JMDP who can match Soderling's game style.

You must understand what I mean?
Not necessarily. Fed took out Nadal in straight sets on clay in Madrid. Same basic argument can apply there.
Clearly Fed's clay level wasn't that much better than Nadal's normal clay level. Nadal had been ground down by Nole in the SF.
I say 2009 Fed beats that version of Rafa, perhaps in straight sets.
 
#18
both? the thing is, even if nadal wasn't a 100%, it still takes a huge amount of effort to defeat him on clay, especially during that period. Soderling was playing like a beast, if I recall.
Kinda where I sit. Can't take anything away from Solderling, but there was a lot going on for Rafa as well. Just Solderling capitalized on it.
 
#20
Not necessarily. Fed took out Nadal in straight sets on clay in Madrid. Same basic argument can apply there.
Clearly Fed's clay level wasn't that much better than Nadal's normal clay level. Nadal had been ground down by Nole in the SF.
Djokovic took out Nadal twice in 2011 on clay. Who did he lose to at FO?
 
#21
I get what you mean, but no one beats a well playing Nadal on Chatrier. It still hasn't happened to this day. As well as Soderling played, we can all agree Rafa was subpar, and I need say nothing about 2015.....
It is obvious Nadal didn't play the best match of his career, and for sure it is a joke if somebody says that Nadal just doesn't know how to play with big hitters. Earlier in 2009 he beat an absolutely GOATing Verdasco (and on hardcourt!) who was hitting bombs for five straight hours. But still, Nadal was good enough and I think we need to give credit to Soderling here. This Nadal was for sure not worse (I'd say even better) than the versions who won RG in 2011 or 2014. And of course this Nadal would triple bagel his 2015 version.
 
#23
Not when dealing with a unique player like Soderling who doesn't play like anyone else (at the time). It's basically like playing a more powerful version of Wawrinka.
Nadal slayed Soderling every time before, and every time since on clay. Clearly something changed in the matchup that day, and all you have to do is watch the match to see how out of it Nadal is. Again, this isn't taking credit from Soderling, he still had to win 3 sets from Nadal, which not many would have been up to do.
 

4-string

Professional
#24
Söderling outplayed peak Nadal, plain and simple.

If Nadal looked sub-par, Söderling made him so. Give credit to RS, he played too hard and fast for humble bull to keep up.

But of course such a loss had to be followed by yet another «injury», healthy Nadal never loses, no?

Anyway, Federer was the real beneficiary of course. No matter the form, he would have found a way to lose had he played Nadal.
 
#28
Söderling outplayed peak Nadal, plain and simple.

If Nadal looked sub-par, Söderling made him so. Give credit to RS, he played too hard and fast for humble bull to keep up.

But of course such a loss had to be followed by yet another «injury», healthy Nadal never loses, no?

Anyway, Federer was the real beneficiary of course. No matter the form, he would have found a way to lose had he played Nadal.
I wouldn't say Federer was that great in RG 2009 anyway. There were problems with his game in almost every match.
 
#30
But tbh idt just anyone could have defeated nadal that day or capitalized on him not being a 100%

Exactly. We have seen it played out for Fed and Nadal's careers, that even if they are having a bad day or not up to 100%, they still can win. So to beat them a player still has to play solid and capitalize. That is what Solderling did.
 
#31
I get what you mean, but no one beats a well playing Nadal on Chatrier. It still hasn't happened to this day. As well as Soderling played, we can all agree Rafa was subpar, and I need say nothing about 2015.....
Nadal wasn't any more subpar than he was against Mathieu 06, Isner 11 or Brands 13, on all those occasions he ended up improving and winning the title. Robin was just the only one who played well enough - really well as he had to - to punish Nadal on his worse day.
 
#36
Nadal wasn't any more subpar than he was against Mathieu 06, Isner 11 or Brands 13, on all those occasions he ended up improving and winning the title. Robin was just the only one who played well enough - really well as he had to - to punish Nadal on his worse day.
Right, not trying to deny that Soderling achieved a very good level. He earned his place at two consecutive FO finals.
My key point is that Rafa's level HAD to dip to afford Soderling any chance. That's exactly what happened in my view.

Nadal at RG is an absolute nightmare matchup for anyone in tennis history. If peak Fed and Nole could not slay this titan, I don't think peak Soderling could.
Post-peak Fed on clay took out Soderling in straight sets in 2009 final.
Nadal took out Soderling in 2010 and 2011 in straight sets each time.
The 2010 final would have been Soderling's chance to decide this issue in his favor. He missed his chance.
 
Last edited:
#37
Soderling was at his best that day and taking huge cuts at the ball off of both sides. Nadal was at his physical best. There’s just not much you can do when an aggressive guy is playing like that.
 
#39
Right, not trying to deny that Soderling achieved a very good level. He earned his place at two consecutive FO finals.
My key point is that Rafa's level HAD to dip to afford Soderling any chance. That's exactly what happened in my view.

Nadal at RG is an absolute nightmare matchup for anyone. If peak Fed and Nole could not slay this titan, I don't think peak Soderling could.
The 2010 final would have been Soderling's chance to decide this issue in his favor. He missed his chance.
hmmm....well tbqh there is that match up issue that exists and yes I know, to some people think fed should have gotten over it, but idk if fed not being able to conquer rafa on clay is an indication that peak soderling couldn't. I do agree that nadal at his best is unbeatable, however I do believe to an extent that soderling's play still had significant role as well.
 
#40
He would have beaten any other player though, I can't really recall any soderling type of player then. Safin was gone, Blake was gone, etc. I genuinely think Nadal still beats Federer in 4 here.


Don't forget, Soderling hated Nadal here. It probably helped him. Others were to scared or showed too much respect. Potentially a zoning JMDP could have troubled him????
The following year, Soderling hated Fed:
 
#43
anyway since we continue to talk about it 10 years later, is that an indication that history will repeat itself and nadal will be unexpectedly knocked out early, as will novak and federer will come through again? I'm here for it
 
#44
hmmm....well tbqh there is that match up issue that exists and yes I know, to some people think fed should have gotten over it, but idk if fed not being able to conquer rafa on clay is an indication that peak soderling couldn't. I do agree that nadal at his best is unbeatable, however I do believe to an extent that soderling's play still had significant role as well.
Did Buster Douglas knock out peak Tyson?
 
#45
Right, not trying to deny that Soderling achieved a very good level. He earned his place at two consecutive FO finals.
My key point is that Rafa's level HAD to dip to afford Soderling any chance. That's exactly what happened in my view.

Nadal at RG is an absolute nightmare matchup for anyone in tennis history. If peak Fed and Nole could not slay this titan, I don't think peak Soderling could.
Post-peak Fed on clay took out Soderling in straight sets in 2009 final.
Nadal took out Soderling in 2010 and 2011 in straight sets each time.
The 2010 final would have been Soderling's chance to decide this issue in his favor. He missed his chance.
Sure, nobody in this era is capable of beating Nadal at RG if he is even close to his best. Breaking news, is it?
 
#46
Is it so hard for Nadal fans to admit? If you watch the match the inescapable conclusion is that Sod would have beaten anyone that day. Dude was playing out of his mind.
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
#49
I get what you mean, but no one beats a well playing Nadal on Chatrier. It still hasn't happened to this day. As well as Soderling played, we can all agree Rafa was subpar, and I need say nothing about 2015.....
who wins, subpar nadal of 2009 or djokovic of 2015?
 
Top