The French Open is not a Grand Slam that is associated with Roger Federer. Indeed, the Swiss maestro is more known for his exploits on Wimbledon’s grass courts. The man who in the modern era of tennis has ruled over clay is Rafael Nadal. Indeed, the Spaniard has won 13 of his 19 Grand Slams at Roland Garros – such is his mastery of the surface. There remains a school of thought that if not for Nadal, Federer might have won more titles. It is a valid thought, given the number of finals (6) Federer lost to Nadal in the French Open.
Federer will be playing the 2021 French Open, even though no one – not even Federer – expects him to win the Slam this year. But with the tournament looming, let’s take a look at the time Federer lifted the trophy at Paris.
Coming into the tournament, Nadal was favourite to lift his fifth straight French Open title. He was the top seed and, over recent years, had the beating of Federer.
For Federer, the main goal coming into the year was completing the career Grand Slam. To do that, however, he would most likely need to beat Nadal in the final – something that hadn’t happened before.
Yet that wasn’t the case. Nadal lost in the fourth round – his first loss at Roland Garros at that point. The man who pulled off the upset? Robin Soderling.
Soderling, amazingly, made it to the final thereafter. He was aided somewhat by being on the easier side of the draw – but beating the likes of Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez thereafter is no mean feat.
Federer, meanwhile, saw off the likes of Gael Monfils and Juan Martin del Potro to book his place in the final.
The final between Federer and Soderling was one of the tamest in recent French Open history. Whereas Federer and Nadal went back and forth, this one was all Federer.
He won the first set 6-1 and Soderling showed some fight in the second set, taking it to a tiebreaker. However, Federer won that comfortably.
Federer then easily won the next set too and completed a career Grand Slam. It might not have come with a win against Nadal, but it was pretty special regardless.