It couldn't have been more perfect even if it were planned... Rafael Nadal is going to face Robin Soderling in the final of the French Open, and not just that. Both of them are in top notch form and are as hungry for the trophy as Federer was last year. Possibly even more.
This match is being labeled by many as the ultimate revenge match. The Rafanatics can't wait till their beloved king avenges his loss to Soderling last year at the French, while the press are just dying to put a spin to an albeit spectacular final. Rafa however is simply looking for a 5th Roland Garros title.
"No, no, no. I want to seriously I prefer to play against Tomas the final, because I won against him the last six times. That's the true. I play against Robin, gonna be a difficult match. I never believe on revenges. I believe on try my best in every moment, and if I lose, I lose, and congratulate Robin because he did better than me. But I go on court trying to play my best tennis and thinking about Roland Garros, not thinking about Robin, Tomas, or another one. You know, for me, doesn't exist revenge in not one match, and especially we talk about final of Roland Garros," said Nadal after his semifinal match against Melzer.
I think both players are entering this final with a great mentality. At least that's what we can infer from their press conferences. Rafa isn't thinking about last year and Robin isn't taking anything for granted just because he beat the Spaniard last year.
"Well, we played many times. He beat me a lot of times, and I beat him a few times. So it was not the last match. You know, we played one or two times after that. But of course it's always good to have beaten a player before. I know that I can beat him. I showed it. But, again, you know, every match is a new match, and every match is different," said Soderling.
Press talk aside, what can we tell from both players' matches so far in Paris?
Let's start with Soderling. To say that the Swede has had to overcome some tough opponents to get to the final is an understatement. Before even getting to Roger Federer, Soderling had a tough 3rd rounder against Albert Montanes, who had just beaten Federer in Estoril a few weeks back. Marin Cilic was an obstacle but not as hard to surpass as Tomas Berdych was in the semis.
After Soderling played an incredible match against Federer in the quarters, he wasn't his best against Berdych, however he still managed to comeback from 2 sets to 1 down and beat the Czech even though in all fairness, Berdych was the better player throughout the match. The fact that Soderling pulled off that victory without his best game definitely places him amongst the likes of Federer and Nadal, who manage to pull off wins on any given day, regardless how good or bad they are playing.
I think Soderling was tight against Berdych because he feels he has a real chance of winning the French Open. He had already beaten Federer, and has confidence against Nadal, so playing tight against Berdych was natural.
As for Nadal, he is peaking at the very right time. The 4-time Roland Garros champion said that his match against Melzer was his best yet in Paris this year, and he admitted he was calmer than he was during his earlier matches.
I think the victory over Nicolas Almagro gave him that calmness because that match was tough, yet he still won in straights.
The fact that he is undefeated this season on clay certainly helps as well, although come tomorrow, I think all bets are off and it really all depends on how confident both of them are going to be against one another. If both players are at their best, then we are all a bunch of lucky %$#$%...
I do maintain though that a perfect Rafa should beat a perfect Soderling on clay, provided Rafa serves exceptionally well.
Can't wait to see how it all goes down...
Cheers from Paris