Monday, June 01, 2009

Nadal: shock loss was my fault

Rafael Nadal has admitted that his shock French Open exit was down more to his poor performance than Soderling's challenge.

Rafael Nadal's four-year reign as king of clay at the French Open ended today after he was sensationally dumped out by unheralded Swede Robin Soderling in the fourth round.

The Spaniard suffered his first-ever defeat at Roland Garros as he lost 6-2 6-7 (2/7) 6-4 7-6 (7/2) to the inspired world number 25 in what is being labelled arguably the biggest upset in tennis history.

With Novak Djokovic having also been eliminated, the door is now ajar for the likes of second seed Roger Federer and third seed Andy Murray, the British number one who beat Marin Cilic today.

"I made it very easy for him - I didn't attack him, I played very short," said the Mallorcan, whose 31 consecutive wins here is a French Open record.

"It was more my fault than him playing well. I didn't play my best tennis and for that reason I lost. It wasn't my day."

Nadal may have dropped well below his usual level but Soderling, who was featuring in his first last-16 match at a grand slam, played out of his skin.

Most people were expecting his level to dip after standing shoulder to shoulder with the top seed in the first couple of sets but he continued to pound away at his opponent with his mighty groundstrokes.

"It's the biggest moment in my career. He's the best clay-court player of all time," said the 24-year-old, who is seeded 23 here and takes on Nikolay Davydenko next.

"During the match, I was just telling myself this is another match, that I shouldn't care it's the fourth round of the French Open against Nadal. I kept telling myself I have to believe."

Nadal, who had only lost one set in his last 17 victories in Paris, had been bidding to become the first player to win the title five years in succession here.

He will remain equal on four with Bjorn Borg, Soderling's fellow Swede.

"I am expecting at least a text from him," Soderling joked.

Nadal was adamant his congested calendar prior to Roland Garros was not the reason for his defeat.

He also denied he had underestimated Soderling, who had lost 6-0 6-1 to the Spaniard on the clay in Rome last month.

"He didn't surprise me because I know how he plays, how dangerous he can be. It was the level of my game that was a surprise to me," Nadal said.

Nadal's defeat quite understandably overshadowed everything else that happened at Roland Garros today.

Murray had hours earlier set up a quarter-final clash with practice partner Fernando Gonzalez, the 12th seed, thanks to a 7-5 7-6 (7/4) 6-1 win over Cilic.

The Scot made just 14 unforced errors on Suzanne Lenglen court, his often cautious approach working perfectly as 13th seed Cilic made errors on both wings.

"I came through all the tough situations well," said Murray.

"I was obviously happy to win in straight sets because he's been playing very well."

Chile's Gonzalez beat 30th seed Victor Hanescu 6-2 6-4 6-2, mainly thanks to his booming forehand that tore the Romanian to shreds.

"I could do what I wanted with my forehand and backhand," said Gonzalez, who hit 50 winners.

In today's last fourth-round match, 10th seed Davydenko ended eighth seed Fernando Verdasco's hopes with a surprisingly comfortable 6-2 6-2 6-4 victory.

No comments: