Robin Soderling on Facing Roger Federer: Nobody Beats Me 11 Times in a Row

When Roger Federer beat Robin Soderling in the finals of the French Open to win his 14th grand slam title, Soderling injected some humor into his runner-up speech. The Swede was just yoking around when he said this:

With the two set to meet once again, this time in the 4th round at Wimbledon, Soderling could be preparing his “nobody beats me 11 times in a row” speech for after the match. Soderling did upset Rafael Nadal on clay so I guess it’s possible he does the almost equally unthinkable task of knocking out Roger on grass. If he pulls it off, he would be ending one of the more impressive streaks in all of sports: Federer’s reached 20 straight grand slam semifinals. That’s like reaching the Final Four in March Madness 20 years in a row. Impressive.

Can Roger Federer Capitalize on Rafael Nadal’s Biggest Gift?

One of the biggest upsets you’ll see in sports this year occurred over the weekend. Spaniard Rafael Nadal, undefeated in his career and a four-time champion at the French Open, lost in four sets in the fourth round to Robin Soderling. Now the loss isn’t significant because of its impact on Nadal — he was bound to lose at Roland Garros eventually; the loss is most meaningful to former number one player in the world, Roger Federer.

While Federer has enjoyed tremendous success throughout his career, the major knock against him was that he never won the French Open and that his dominance was limited to the grass and hard court surfaces. Sure, Nadal may have passed him up recently and even beaten him at Wimbledon, but winning the French would cap off one of the top careers the sport has seen. What would Rod Laver supporters have to say should Federer win on clay? Moreover, a win at the French Open would not only give Federer the coveted title he’s been missing, it would also tie him with Pete Sampras for the most all-time singles grand slam titles at 14. With the U.S. Open and Wimbledon coming up, it’s highly likely that Fed would break Sampras’ record by the end of the year.

Following his surprising loss to Soderling, Nadal said that Federer was the favorite to win it all. Roger didn’t look like anyone’s favorite going five sets to beat Tommy Haas, but the message is clear: The title is tangible for Federer. While Roger could use the French to quiet all the detractors, his legacy will still be strong without it. He still has an excellent chance of beating Sampras’ mark of 14 and unlike Pete, Federer actually competed well at Roland Garros, making it to the finals three times. It just so happens that he was defeated by the man who might be the best clay court player of all time, Rafael Nadal. It might also be that this was Rafa’s gift to Roger for making him cry at the Australian Open.

Video: Roger Federer Cries Following Loss to Rafael Nadal at Australian Open

Man, I wish Australia wasn’t on such a different time schedule from us because they really screwed up my sleeping routine as I had to stay up late watching this epic battle. The awesomeness of the competition between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the finals of their five set match in Melbourne is indescribable. Both players raised the game of tennis to new levels. It wasn’t about choking or collapsing, nor was it about unforced errors or double faults. It was about who could top who with the better shot. These two shot-makers were on top of their game. They hustled to every ball, produced winner after winner, truly showing that they were the top two players in the world, and two of the best ever. Balls you never thought a player could get to, they retrieved. Shots you never thought they could make, they pounded. Just when you thought Roger could get a break, Rafa blasted one up the line. Just when you thought Rafa would get a break, Roger responded with an ace. In the end, Nadal appeared to be the fresher body as he rose up to a new height and dominated Fed in the final set. Though he was unfairly playing on less rest, Nadal was in excellent condition and persevered.

While the play of the match was astounding, one of the lasting impressions I’ll have was Roger Federer’s post-match acceptance of the runner up’s trophy (video below).

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Can Roger Federer be Best Ever Without Winning the French Open?

I had a great debate with Peter Brown on Sporting News Radio Sunday night. The whole conversation started because Rafael Nadal kicked Roger Federer’s ass in the French Open finals, only giving up four games in three sets for his 4th straight title at Roland Garros. With a performance like that coupled with Roger’s inability to win the French made Peter say that he can’t consider Federer the best tennis player of all-time. On an absolutely basic level, it is hard to fight this argument, but I think it’s faulty. Here were some of the several points to refute this notion.

First off, Roger’s dominance on all other surfaces is unprecedented. From ’04-’07, Roger won nearly every tournament he entered, including 11 of the 16 Grand Slam events. In four of the five he didn’t win, he either made the finals or semifinals. Federer was 315-24 over those four years, good for a cool 93% winning percentage. That type of dominance is just silly. The counterargument would say Federer isn’t playing in a competitive era. Well, before he came into his own, there were guys like Roddick, Safin, Hewitt, and Nalbandian reaching finals and still doing so. You telling me these guys wouldn’t have more wins if Federer weren’t around? If that were the case, what would you say about the competition then?

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Roger Federer: ‘This Is My Year’

I didn’t exactly keep it a secret that I was pulling for Novak Djokovic earlier in the year at the Australian Open when he knocked the king off the mountain. Turns out Roger Federer actually had mono during the tourney and that probably explains why he lost. I bet most players would love to reach the finals of a Grand Slam with such an illness. Anyway, Federer has reached the finals of the French Open and will have the daunting task of facing Rafael Nadal on clay to try and win the major that has eluded him thus far. No worries though — Federer thinks he has this one:

It looks good for Sunday,” and then, “I feel I have the right tactics, I have the right game, and I have the fitness to beat him,” and then, “We are testing each other, you know, over and over . . . I believe very strongly that this is my year.”

It really would be nice to see Roger get the win and expunge the one and only criticism of his career. Is it really his fault that Nadal is 27-0 at the French Open? What can he do about the fact that Nadal has not lost a set at Roland Garros this year? Nadal is almost unbeatable on clay — 114-2 in his career. The only thing standing between Roger Federer and infallible immortality is winning the French. I’m glad he has the confidence this year and the attitude — you need that approach if you want to have a chance against the nearly unbeatable Nadal. This will be quite the match.

Novak Djokovic Beat Roger Federer at the Australian Open, Wow

This week has been perfect for me; I’m not used to watching live sporting events while doing the site. With the Australian Open, I’ve been catching all the matches live and have witnessed the upsets as they’ve occurred. And of all the results these past two weeks, perhaps none was more significant than Novak Djokovic beating Roger Federer. Djokovic knocked off Federer in straight sets, though I wouldn’t call it a dominant win. Djokovic controlled the match, yet he struggled against the world’s top player. But Novak had confidence, and he had the strokes, and he didn’t crumble when he got down a break in the 1st set, nor when he trailed in the third set tiebreaker before closing out the match. Novak without a doubt proved that he is for real, and that there is a bonafide change on the tennis landscape.

Roger Federer is a man in the prime of his career, at the peak of his game. He rarely loses. He hardly even loses sets. He has reached the finals of the past 10 grand slam events, and won eight of them. Such a run in men’s tennis is unprecedented. Roger Federer has easily been the most dominant player in sports over the past three years. As he said in his post-match press conference, he’s created a monster because he needs to win every tournament. Everyone wonders about him if he even loses a set in a match — they say he’s playing poorly. And alas, Federer was knocked off the mountain top, by someone other than Nadal, on a surface other than clay, in a Grand Slam. And that is a monumental event in men’s tennis. Novak Djokovic has most definitely arrived.

(and may he continue his hilarious impressions and karaoke)

Great Tiger Woods and Roger Federer Nike Commercial

Wow, Nike certainly outdid themselves with this one. They sponsor the best tennis player in the world, and the best golfer in the world. They sponsor two of the most dominant athletes in the world. They sponsor Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. Their sponsorship of these two men allowed them to put together this outstanding commercial. I had the pleasure of viewing it just prior to the start of the Wimbledon men’s singles finals between Federer and Rafael Nadal. It is fantastic. Pay close attention to the man doing the voice over, and enjoy:

The commercial is fantastic for several reasons. For one, it’s always cool when you get to see a picture timeline of a future star growing up. Secondly, I knew the voice was familiar, but didn’t realize who it was until the end; how often do you expect Tiger Woods to do a voice over? Third, the commercial pairs two of the most dominant athletes on the planet. Fourth, the commercial also shows the mutual respect and hearty competition that exists between Federer and Woods. And lastly, Tiger gets in that great dig at the end, a playful jab which provides more incentive for Federer to win. What an outstanding commercial, great job by Nike.