Rafa Nadal, the undisputed King of Clay was shocked this afternoon by the Swedish maestro in Robin Soderling. With Soderling coming out firing with his big forehand and aggressive play, Nadal was kept on the back of his feet for a significant amount of time. The final score - 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6. With that, the perfect record, the consecutive French Open record, and the opportunity for the annual Grand Slam fade into the night.
Soderling was aggressive as hell out there, firing forehands and backhands with pretty much reckless abandon at times. He's a fun player to watch, and at age 24, Soderling still has plenty of opportunity to move forward in his career (currently ranked #25).
For those who remain in the mens draw, this opens things up significantly (again). Novak Djokovic, arguably 2009's 2nd best clay-courter was also eliminated, and that leaves Federer as the guy to beat here in France. How ironic would it be for Federer to win the elusive French (and potentially nothing else in 2009), when folks are arguing that the guy is even done at Wimbledon?!
Or, is this where we see Tsonga, Monfils, or Del Potro (perhaps even Roddick?) bust out at Rolland Garros, and give us a real look at the next generation?
This is getting interesting folks, very interesting.