Nadal, Soderling to meet again at French Open

Robin Soderling is going to get another chance to double Rafael Nadal's career loss record at the French Open.

Updated: May 31, 2011 18:38 IST
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Paris: Robin Soderling is going to get another chance to double Rafael Nadal's career loss record at the French Open.

The fifth-seeded Swede served his way into the quarterfinals Monday to set up a match against the defending champion, who is 42-1 at Roland Garros and has won five of the past six titles.

"Everybody knows what he can do," said Soderling, the only man to defeat Nadal at the clay-court major. "He won here so many times."

Soderling advanced Monday by beating Gilles Simon of France 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (5), while Nadal defeated Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

On the women's side, Maria Sharapova reached the quarterfinals by beating 12th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 7-6 (4), 7-5.

On Tuesday, Roger Federer is to face Gael Monfils for a spot in the semifinals. Also, defending women's champion Francesca Schiavone is to play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.

Soderling has lost the past two French Open finals, but he has also beaten the past two defending champions along the way.

In 2009, he eliminated Nadal from the fourth round, ending the Spaniard's streak of four straight championships at Roland Garros. But when he got to the final, Soderling lost to Federer in straight sets.

"After that I proved to myself that I could do well in Grand Slams, and it helped me a lot," Soderling said.

Fast-forward one year to 2010, and nearly the same thing happened. Soderling eliminated defending champion Federer — this time in the quarterfinals — but then lost to Nadal in straight sets in the final.

On Monday, Soderling had little trouble against Simon. He committed 42 unforced errors on Court Philippe Chatrier, 18 more than the 18th-seeded Frenchman, but also led his opponent in winners, 35-18.

He also managed to break Simon five times while losing his serve only once.

"When you're faced with a tall guy who plays very hard — he is full of energy — if everything gets in the court, there is nothing I can do," Simon said.

Now Soderling gets another chance to knock out arguably the best player ever on clay.

"I have to be mentally ready for a really tough match. He's not going to give you anything," Soderling said. "You have to fight. Against Rafa you have to fight for every point."

Nadal wobbled his way through the first round, needing five sets to beat John Isner. But since then, the Spaniard has been rolling, and was hardly troubled Monday.

"I've managed to play good tennis, so I'll have to be optimistic," said Nadal, who is trying to equal Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open titles. "I can do the same again."

A few hours later on the same court, Sharapova reached the quarterfinals at a major tournament for the first time in two years. If she wins the title, she will complete a career Grand Slam.

"It's one that I've always said would be the most challenging for me to win," Sharapova said. "But I've always worked really hard on trying to get myself prepared as well as I could for it, physically and mentally, knowing that sometimes you just have to be more patient than maybe in other points in other tournaments."

The seventh-seeded Russian will next face No. 15 Andrea Petkovic. The 23-year-old German defeated No. 25 Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.

No. 4 Victoria Azarenka, the highest seeded player remaining in the women's draw, and Australian Open finalist Li Na also advanced Monday and will face each other in the quarterfinals.

One player advanced even farther than the quarterfinals, and without even playing.

Novak Djokovic, who is unbeaten in 2011 and came into the French Open after beating Nadal in two clay-court finals, was sent into the semifinals on Monday when quarterfinal opponent Fabio Fognini withdrew because of a left leg injury.

Djokovic now gets a few more days off while the rest of the field will be trying to join him in the last four.

"Tell me," Nadal said when asked about Djokovic's schedule, "what's the worst part of that?

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  • Tennis
  • Mahesh Bhupathi
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  • Juan Martin del Potro
  • Rafael Nadal
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