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
#51
- Soderling wasn't afraid of Nadal and went for his shots
- Rafa's topspin in his wheelhouse
- Flat groundstrokes
- Big Serve

Don't buy the knee excuse. Nadal was flying around the court. Can't win em all. The video evidence is there for anyone to look at. I've pointed it out myself on a previous occasion, but I'm not doing that again because apparently it's a waste of time if someone has convinced themselves he had an injury.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
#52
Here are a couple of my observations.

1. Soderling was recently destroyed on clay by Nadal by playing it conservatively. It looked like Soderling went for broke on every shot at RG. He was absolutely clobbering forehands with full force every time. And this one time, his shots were almost always landing in. It reminds me of a home run hitter that hits 5 home runs in a two game stint, but then only hits 10 more during the other 160 games.

2. Some of Soderling's serves were in the 140-145 range. He was bombing serves hard enough that didn't allow Nadal to return them with interest. Soderling also hit some really hard 2nd serves as well.

3. I remember at some point during the match, Soderling had converted either 3 of 4 or 4 out of 4 break points. I forget which. But the announcers mentioned it a few times. But I was dumbfounded that he was converting 75+% of his break points against the clay GOAT. I.e, this is something that would never happen again. Had Soderling been at 20% or lower on break points, then he probably loses the match.

Soderling went for broke. It really paid off on break points, which made a massive difference on the final result.
 
#53
Yes. Tyson wasn’t at his best that night but it was at the peak of his celebrity and his form.
Tyson was knocked out by his sparring partner a few weeks before the fight! It's well known that Tyson's mindset was crap going into the Douglas fight.

Look, I loved the Douglas victory. I also loved the Soderling victory.
BUT, those guys were lucky to face an "off "version of their respective juggernauts.
 
#54
who wins, subpar nadal of 2009 or djokovic of 2015?
If Nadal 2009 went into a match with 2015 Djokovic (or 2011 Djokovic) with that crap mindset AND/OR physical injury, he loses in straight sets.
I think 2009 Fed also could have beaten him in straight sets (maybe 4 sets) that day.
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
#55
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.

what?
look the last 3 matches of those editions, and see how the Spanaird played so well from that instance (from the quarterfinals onwards).
He himself defeated a very good version of Soderling in 2011, only now, he had more resources to counteract the powerful groundstrokes of the Swedish but like Berdych, he lacks variety and has no plan B.
Even at Wimbledon 2010, after the first set, Nadal understood how to play against Soderling, and exposed him clearly.

That afternoon of May 2009 was only an upset that happens from time to time in sports.
 
#56
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
Interesting you say that. I saw pictures of Nadal practicing at the Rafa Academy in a PINK SHIRT!

What could this portend?
The key difference here is that Nadal has lost to 3 different guys on clay this year. In 2009, only Fed had beaten him in the lead up to RG.
 
#57
- Soderling wasn't afraid of Nadal and went for his shots
- Rafa's topspin in his wheelhouse
- Flat groundstrokes
- Big Serve

Don't buy the knee excuse. Nadal was flying around the court. Can't win em all. The video evidence is there for anyone to look at. I've pointed it out myself on a previous occasion, but I'm not doing that again because apparently it's a waste of time if someone has convinced themselves he had an injury.
So why didn't this play out the same exact way in Rome just weeks before or at the FO in 2010 and 2011 (where Rafa won 8/8 sets, including some bakery items)?
 
#58
what?
look the last 3 matches of those editions, and see how the Spanaird played so well from that instance (from the quarterfinals onwards).
He himself defeated a very good version of Soderling in 2011, only now, he had more resources to counteract the powerful groundstrokes of the Swedish but like Berdych, he lacks variety and has no plan B.
Even at Wimbledon 2010, after the first set, Nadal understood how to play against Soderling, and exposed him clearly.

That afternoon of May 2009 was only an upset that happens from time to time in sports.
Nadal didn't play well in any match in RG 2014, except maybe the semifinal. (but Murray was completely trash in this match so I don't take that too seriously)
 
#59
Guys,

Study the stats for a minute.

What stands out? Soderling's brilliance or Nadal's crap level?

http://tennisabstract.com/charting/20090531-M-French_Open-R16-Robin_Soderling-Rafael_Nadal.html

Soderling hit more UE than winners in the match!
So did Nadal.

It was basically a case of Nadal returning horribly and getting routed on his second serve. His groundstrokes were all landing WAY too short in the court, basically target practice for Soderling. That said, Soderling did not play "God mode" with more UE than winners.
 
#61
Please watch the match. Maybe Nadal was injured and would have beaten him if not, but if you are trying to tell me that Soderling was not at a stratospheric level than Iam not going to agree one bit.
So I guess Nadal 2009 USO was peak level as well?
Del Potro did far worse to him than Soderling for some of the same reasons, actually. Nadal's groundstrokes in both of those matches were landing WAY too short in the court, allowing for FH winners to be hit like crazy.

Delpo 2009 on HC >>Soderling 2009 on clay.
 
#62
Guys,

Study the stats for a minute.

What stands out? Soderling's brilliance or Nadal's crap level?

http://tennisabstract.com/charting/20090531-M-French_Open-R16-Robin_Soderling-Rafael_Nadal.html

Soderling hit more UE than winners in the match!
So did Nadal.

It was basically a case of Nadal returning horribly and getting routed on his second serve. His groundstrokes were all landing WAY too short in the court, basically target practice for Soderling. That said, Soderling did not play "God mode" with more UE than winners.
Nadal has good stats for the last two sets. Söderling could've easily choked and lost in four like anyone else. Go to the detailed description and count how many UEs Nadal had on Söderling's serve in the last two sets - five! In two full sets! Söd played extremely well.
 
#63
Guys,

Study the stats for a minute.

What stands out? Soderling's brilliance or Nadal's crap level?

http://tennisabstract.com/charting/20090531-M-French_Open-R16-Robin_Soderling-Rafael_Nadal.html

Soderling hit more UE than winners in the match!
So did Nadal.

It was basically a case of Nadal returning horribly and getting routed on his second serve. His groundstrokes were all landing WAY too short in the court, basically target practice for Soderling. That said, Soderling did not play "God mode" with more UE than winners.

Agreed these are some other overrated matches
http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20090201-M-Australian_Open-F-Roger_Federer-Rafael_Nadal.html
Winners (FH/BH) UFE (FH/BH)
Roger Federer 64 (33/20) 67 (31/30)
Rafael Nadal 44 (25/15) 58 (22/32)

http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20120129-M-Australian_Open-F-Novak_Djokovic-Rafael_Nadal.html
Winners (FH/BH) UFE (FH/BH)
Novak Djokovic 57 (32/11) 64 (35/27)
Rafael Nadal 53 (25/7) 63 (33/26)
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
#64
If Nadal 2009 went into a match with 2015 Djokovic (or 2011 Djokovic) with that crap mindset AND/OR physical injury, he loses in straight sets.
I think 2009 Fed also could have beaten him in straight sets (maybe 4 sets) that day.
but the 2015 version of Nadal can be defeated, even if we joke about it, for our grandmother if she grabs a racket.
:giggle:
 
#65
Nadal has good stats for the last two sets. Söderling could've easily choked and lost in four like anyone else. Go to the detailed description and count how many UEs Nadal had on Söderling's serve in the last two sets - five! In two full sets! Söd played extremely well.
If you call Nadal's stats "good" then please compare them to these.
http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20100606-M-Roland_Garros-F-Robin_Soderling-Rafael_Nadal.html
Two areas should stand out:
1) Crap 2nd serve in 2009 match vs. vastly improved 2nd serve in 2010
2) Much more favorable Winners/UE ratio for Nadal. He basically worked Soderling over in 2010.

Interesting historical footnote: If I remember correctly, McEnroe predicted a Soderling victory in 2010!
 
#67
If you call Nadal's stats "good" then please compare them to these.
http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20100606-M-Roland_Garros-F-Robin_Soderling-Rafael_Nadal.html
Two areas should stand out:
1) Crap 2nd serve in 2009 match vs. vastly improved 2nd serve in 2010
2) Much more favorable Winners/UE ratio for Nadal. He basically worked Soderling over in 2010.

Interesting historical footnote: If I remember correctly, McEnroe predicted a Soderling victory in 2010!
Nadal was near his best in 2010. The weather was also sunny, unlike the damp day of the 09 upset. Msc likes to run his mouth.

Also, 4th set 09 and 1st 10 have similar 2nd serve win %, while 3rd set 09 and the next two sets of 10 are not telling because of FS%>80, hence the sample of 2nd serves is too small.
 
#68
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.
Great post.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
#69
I just looked up the stats from that famous 2009 RG match between Nadal and Soderling. Soderling converted a whopping 83.3% of his break point opportunities by going 5 for 6. That is completely absurd. That decided the match. The following year against Nadal at RG, Soderling went 0/8.

Had Soderling converted 80+% of his break points vs peak Nadal in 2010, then that match becomes much closer.
 
#70
Nadal was near his best in 2010. The weather was also sunny, unlike the damp day of the 09 upset.
It’s also no coincidence that it was a rainy day when Söderling beat Federer in 2010. His shots were that heavy that he could easily hit through all conditions, but ne needed a lot of time to bring himself into position for his shots, especially with the forehand where he had an enormous swing.

So a wet clay-court was the best for him. His movement couldn’t be exposed and the power was still enough. It’s a bit similar to Wawrinka.
 
#71
Agreed these are some other overrated matches
http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20090201-M-Australian_Open-F-Roger_Federer-Rafael_Nadal.html
Winners (FH/BH) UFE (FH/BH)
Roger Federer 64 (33/20) 67 (31/30)
Rafael Nadal 44 (25/15) 58 (22/32)

http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20120129-M-Australian_Open-F-Novak_Djokovic-Rafael_Nadal.html
Winners (FH/BH) UFE (FH/BH)
Novak Djokovic 57 (32/11) 64 (35/27)
Rafael Nadal 53 (25/7) 63 (33/26)
Yep, we can debate errors to the end of times but these are good in my estimation. A good parameter is total UE %, which is 36% and 35% respectively - slightly below average for a slow HC match with many long rallies and defensive gets. Obviously this doesn't take into account the quality of the average rally shot, which was high in both matches. Scoffing at negative W-UE misses the point of how stats work and their relationship to actual match quality.
 
#72
So I guess Nadal 2009 USO was peak level as well?
Del Potro did far worse to him than Soderling for some of the same reasons, actually. Nadal's groundstrokes in both of those matches were landing WAY too short in the court, allowing for FH winners to be hit like crazy.

Delpo 2009 on HC >>Soderling 2009 on clay.
Sir where O where did I say Nadal was peak ?

I said Soderling's level was stratospheric , for a single match at RG among near the top of top 10 highest non Rafa level of 2000s.

You have an interesting fascination with trying to prove healthy Nadal would have won.
 
#73
I just looked up the stats from that famous 2009 RG match between Nadal and Soderling. Soderling converted a whopping 83.3% of his break point opportunities by going 5 for 6. That is completely absurd. That decided the match. The following year against Nadal at RG, Soderling went 0/8.

Had Soderling converted 80+% of his break points vs peak Nadal in 2010, then that match becomes much closer.
Maybe, but lots of other key statistical differences.
Look at the following:
1) 2nd serve points won
2) Return points won
3) Winner/UE ratio
All MUCH better for Nadal in 2010.
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
#76
Nadal didn't play well in any match in RG 2014, except maybe the semifinal. (but Murray was completely trash in this match so I don't take that too seriously)
Look from the second set to the end in his match against Djokovic, above all that set, it was a work of art as he disintegrated the Serbian game with a different version of the Sampras serve and volley: the version adapted by the Spaniard, was the serve and forehand, especially the groundstroke that shattered Djokovic in that match: forehand down the line.
It was amazing how many points Nadal won with that lethal combination.
That level would be more than enough to earn another RG now in 2019.

 

DSH

Hall of Fame
#77
It’s also no coincidence that it was a rainy day when Söderling beat Federer in 2010. His shots were that heavy that he could easily hit through all conditions, but ne needed a lot of time to bring himself into position for his shots, especially with the forehand where he had an enormous swing.

So a wet clay-court was the best for him. His movement couldn’t be exposed and the power was still enough. It’s a bit similar to Wawrinka.
but Wawrinka defeated Djokovic at RG in a sunny day if i am not wrong.
 
#78
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.

Just two options?

Soderling won the match playing well above his level. But if anyone suggests that level is good enough to beat Rafa playing at his highest level, I'll laugh. We are talking about the best clay courter in the history of the game who has won 11 FOs.

Rafa's parents were going through divorce at that time and his knees were causing a lot of issues. There were issues physically and mentally.

Having said that, he won the match fair and square. All credit to him for beating Nadal on his favourite surface on that day.

PS: Looking at the poll 27 people voted for the first option - a feat not matched by even Djokovic or Federer? So that god mode level must be higher than Djokovic or Federer have ever produced? (We can exclude 2015 FO from here - Nadal was totally out of form losing to anyone)
 
#79
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????
Tsonga sort of was. He would try to will himself intoto beast mode - hit huge serves, go for every groundstroke. Though it never worked against Nadal on clay, or really any of the then-Big 4 on any surface most of the time (with some exceptions, most notably Nadal at the AO; Tsonga does have a few wins over those guys), it was still a good strategy. People would say Tsonga is playing "stupid" and "going for too much" when it often didn't work. But, come on, it was his only chance. He wasn't the same level player as the Big 4 so of course it would rarely "work" and he sure as heck wasn't going to beat them by carefully constructing points and grinding them down.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
#80
Maybe, but lots of other key statistical differences.
Look at the following:
1) 2nd serve points won
2) Return points won
3) Winner/UE ratio
All MUCH better for Nadal in 2010.
What you said is also true. Basically, Soderling played the match of his life against a middle-of-the-road match for Nadal. Nadal has his off matches. In 2010, Soderling stunk on clutch points and Nadal played better.

In 2010, Soderling clutched a win over Fed. He broke fed 4 times in 9 chances for an awesome 44.4% break point percentage. That match was basically a coin flip with a DR of 1.01. But Soderling's 44.4% break point conversion percentage vs fed's 28.6% told the whole story. In 2009, Fed broke broke Soldering 4 times in 6 tries and Soderling was at 0% vs Fed. Flip these clutch points around and we gt Fed struggling to beat Soderling.

The break points are where many matches are won and lost. At the end of the day, a poor day on the clutch points can cost a player a match. And this point cannot be overstated.
 
#81
There should be a third option. A combination of factors.

A. Soderling was not necessarily in God mode, just playing his A game.

B. Soderling’s playing style, with big flattish groundies off both wings gives Nadal trouble.

C. Soderling’s height and comfort level on high balls helps him to be able to meet Nadal’s shots higher than most players, which in turn helps him with court positioning because he can more easily take balls on the rise with extra time to avoid bad bounces.

D. Soderling’s racquet setup, with dense pattern strung tight and massive 390 swingweight, is ideal for immunizing him against being bothered by Nadal’s unique rpm level.

E. Nadal’s average level was not good enough on that particular day to beat an unfavorable matchup playing his A game.
 

duaneeo

Hall of Fame
#84
The weather conditions were perfect for Soderling. He slightly hesitates before hitting a big shot, and the slower, heavier conditions allowed him to strike at maximum power--literally blowing Nadal off the court. And, he played with no fear or intimidation. Everyone thought Rafa would run away with the match after he won the 2nd set, and then thought he would turn the match around when the 4th set went to a tiebreak. Soderling proved everyone wrong.

Knee issues? Baloney. Nadal had breezed through his first matches, and then played a grass exhibition match after RG. I've always believed Rada skipped Wimbledon because he was still dealing with the shock RG defeat, and wasn't mentally ready to play.
 
#85
Just two options?

Soderling won the match playing well above his level. But if anyone suggests that level is good enough to beat Rafa playing at his highest level, I'll laugh. We are talking about the best clay courter in the history of the game who has won 11 FOs.

Rafa's parents were going through divorce at that time and his knees were causing a lot of issues. There were issues physically and mentally.

Having said that, he won the match fair and square. All credit to him for beating Nadal on his favourite surface on that day.

PS: Looking at the poll 27 people voted for the first option - a feat not matched by even Djokovic or Federer? So that god mode level must be higher than Djokovic or Federer have ever produced? (We can exclude 2015 FO from here - Nadal was totally out of form losing to anyone)
has federer ever produced god level tennis on clay against nadal?
 
#87
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.
I remember playing tennis that morning with my normal Sunday partner. Soderling had beaten Ferrer the round previous. And even though the scoreline wasn't that impressive (6-7; 7-5; 6-2; 7-6), Soderling was just crushing the ball and looked like he had hit an amazing purple patch (for reference, I think Soderling was eating bagels and breadsticks on clay from Ferrer and Nadal just the previous month if memory serves).

My partner asked me if I though Soderling had a chance to beat Nadal. And I distinctly remember saying that if Soderling played the same type of match against Nadal as he had just played against Ferrer he MIGHT be able to take one set in a tiebreak or something (but I predicted a straight set win for Nadal).

Point is, Soderling was definitely playing some serious ball bashing clay tennis those 2 weeks. But Nadal can always beat a ball basher on clay. Especially a 5 set match.

Both were definitely factors, but Nadal was untouchable at that stage of his clay career. And if he was even playing "normal", he would have found a way to win. Even over a "god mode" Soderling.
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
#88
I remember playing tennis that morning with my normal Sunday partner. Soderling had beaten Ferrer the round previous. And even though the scoreline wasn't that impressive (6-7; 7-5; 6-2; 7-6), Soderling was just crushing the ball and looked like he had hit an amazing purple patch (for reference, I think Soderling was eating bagels and breadsticks on clay from Ferrer and Nadal just the previous month if memory serves).

My partner asked me if I though Soderling had a chance to beat Nadal. And I distinctly remember saying that if Soderling played the same type of match against Nadal as he had just played against Ferrer he MIGHT be able to take one set in a tiebreak or something (but I predicted a straight set win for Nadal).

Point is, Soderling was definitely playing some serious ball bashing clay tennis those 2 weeks. But Nadal can always beat a ball basher on clay. Especially a 5 set match.

Both were definitely factors, but Nadal was untouchable at that stage of his clay career. And if he was even playing "normal", he would have found a way to win. Even over a "god mode" Soderling.

But do not you think that the weather that day influenced the outcome of the match, almost like in the final of RG 2012 after the first break, where the Serbian won 8 consecutive games against the Spaniard.
 
#90
But do not you think that the weather that day influenced the outcome of the match, almost like in the final of RG 2012 after the first break, where the Serbian won 8 consecutive games against the Spaniard.
Of course. But the OP wanted to know what the dominant factor was. And I believe in those days, Nadal always finds a way to win a 5-setter on clay against Soderling if he's even playing "average Nadal 2009 clay tennis". The guy was simply untouchable in those days.

Heck, he even wins Rome fairly easily last week. 10 years after this. And 2019 Nadal would be eating bagels from 2009 Nadal.

I bet Nadal's parents felt (maybe still feel) like garbage for separating / divorcing at that exact time. Couldn't they have waited a few months?
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
#91
Of course. But the OP wanted to know what the dominant factor was. And I believe in those days, Nadal always finds a way to win a 5-setter on clay against Soderling if he's even playing "average Nadal 2009 clay tennis". The guy was simply untouchable in those days.

Heck, he even wins Rome fairly easily last week. 10 years after this. And 2019 Nadal would be eating bagels from 2009 Nadal.

Do you think the same about Federer and Djokovic?
That the versions of them 10 years ago, would destroy their current versions?
 
#93
Do you think the same about Federer and Djokovic?
That the versions of them 10 years ago, would destroy their current versions?
It's a bit different for Nadal because of the clay surface. It would be hard to hand out bagels on grass or hard. And Fed / Djoko aren't handing bagels to themselves on clay.

But in general, 2009 Federer would easily beat 2019 Fed.

But Djokovic hadn't hit "Ultron" mode yet in 2009. And he can still hit Ultron mode today. So I think 2019 Djoko beats 2009 pretty easily.
 

Otacon

Hall of Fame
#99
Do you remember where you were, who you were with and what you were doing on May 31, 2009 ? It's the biggest upset in tennis history and I remember very well that day.
 
Top