The 2010 French Open title, Rafael Nadal’s fifth, had the feel of a king reclaiming his throne. In this case, however, the conqueror was only 24 years old. For that had been the Spaniard’s control of the coveted La Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy since he first laid his hands on it as a 19-year-old. Such had been his authority that the daunting task of playing tennis on the red clay of Court Philippe-Chatrier at Roland Garros in Paris almost seemed like child’s play.
When Nadal beat then-World No. 7 Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 on June 6, 2010, the Mallorcan extended his clay-court Major win-loss record to 38-1. That loss, however, came against the same six-foot-four-inch-tall Swede a year ago in what is still considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
Soderling had become the first man to beat Nadal at Roland Garros when he defeated the four-time defending champion 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2) in his three-and-a-half years. Half-hour fourth-round clash in 2009. Soderling reached the final and faced Roger Federer, whom no one would deny. Federer finally won the French Open.
Nadal later revealed in a statement that he had been experiencing pain in his knees for months. “I’ve been playing with pain in my knees for a few months and I just can’t go on like this,” he said, adding, “The pain limited certain movements in my body, which affected me mentally as well.” ”
Spanish Tennis Federation doctor Dr. Ángel Ruiz-Cotorro had been diagnosed with tendinitis in both knees, which kept Nadal away from the sport for two months.
Therefore, when he won the French Open trophy for the fifth time, it probably meant a lot more to him than the first four.
Nadal’s 2010 season on clay before the French Open
FILE PHOTO: Spain’s Rafael Nadal walks off the court after his fourth-round loss to Sweden’s Robin Soderling at the 2009 French Open. – FALSE IMAGES
Before beginning his clay court season in Monte Carlo, Nadal’s hard court season featured a runner-up finish, two semi-final losses and withdrawal from the Australian Open following a right knee injury as he, the defending champion, trailed. two sets to nil against the British. Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.
Come to Monte Carlo, Nadal was back in his element as he destroyed the field losing just 14 games en route to his sixth straight Monaco title. Winner of the last five editions, he did not play in Barcelona where Soderling lost in the final to Nadal’s compatriot, Fernando Verdasco.
In Rome, only Ernests Gulbis of Latvia could top him as he clinched his fifth Italian Open title. He went on to win his first Madrid Masters trophy after beating No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland in a rematch of the 2009 final.
French Open 2010
FILE PHOTO: Sweden’s runner-up Robin Soderling (left) and Spain’s champion Rafael Nadal (right) after the men’s singles final at the 2010 French Open. – FALSE IMAGES
With capri pants replaced by shorts and sleeved tops, second-seeded Nadal began his Roland Garros campaign without the reigning champion tag for the first time in five years. The Spaniard outclassed French teenager Gianni Mina, his first-round opponent, with ease. The second round was no different than the one that sent Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos (current world No. 5 in doubles) packing in less than two hours.
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In the third round, Nadal defeated a familiar foe, two-time Major winner Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, in their fourth meeting at the French Open. His 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 fourth-round win over 24th seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil was his 200th on clay.
Nadal’s quarter-final came against compatriot Nicolás Almagro and, unlike the hammering of 2008, the 21st-seeded Almagro showed dogged resistance before losing 6-7(2), 6-7(3), 4-6 . On the same day, Soderling avenged his 2009 summit loss with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Federer.
In the final four stage, Nadal faced Austrian Jurgen Melzer. Melzer had stunned World No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia in an epic four hour and 15 minute quarter-final winning it after losing the first two sets.
However, the 29-year-old Melzer was unable to repeat the same as he lost the semi-final against Nadal in straight sets in almost half the time. Soderling had to beat Czech Tomas Berdych in five sets to reach his second straight French Open final.
A final Nadal vs Soderling. There couldn’t be a better ending to this story.
A year after Soderling scored the only loss in Nadal’s incredible win-loss record in Paris, the Spaniard got his revenge by posting a straight-set victory in the final that lasted two hours and 18 minutes.
“The only player who has beaten Nadal at Roland Garros couldn’t do it when it mattered. Nadal not only beat him, he reduced him to a batting partner. It was both a cruel and terrifying sight. Resignation painted the sad features of Soderling, those eyes of Donald Pleasance more melancholy than ever”, is how Kevin Mitchell described the end in The Guardian.
Nadal had won his second French Open title without dropping a set. The triumph also took him to the top of the ATP ranking.
He did his usual celebration, dropped the racket and fell on his back, after match point, but when he sat back in his chair, he buried his head in a towel and wept.
In 2009, he suffered physically, while dealing with the separation of his parents.
Emphasizing the importance of this win, Nadal said: “I think it is one of the most important wins in my career. It was a difficult year for me last year. It was hard to accept the injuries and everything.
“I was crying there. It was a very emotional moment for me. The moment after a lot of nerves, a lot of pressure. A difficult year… after you win the title, you lose the tension.”
FILE PHOTO: Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning the championship point during the men’s singles final at the 2010 French Open. – FALSE IMAGES
Three-time champion Mats Wilander believed that the victory against Soderling changed Nadal’s career. “I think that win, that final against Robin Soderling, got his career back on track,” Wilander said. atptour.com on the second anniversary of Nadal’s triumph in 2010.
He added: “It was the match that made him believe he wasn’t done and transformed his game.”
Nadal became the first man to win Majors on three different surfaces in the same year with Wimbledon and US Open titles and finished the year as No. 1.
Rafael Nadal’s route to the French Open title in 2010
First round: won 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 against Gianni Mina (FRA)
Second round: won 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 over Horacio Zeballos (ARG)
Third round: won 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 against Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
Fourth round: won 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 against Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
Quarter finals: won 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 over Nicola Almagro (ESP)
Semifinal: won 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 against Jurgen Melzer (AUT)
Final: won 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 against Robin Soderling (SWE)