Paris - Robin Soderling joked on Thursday that he's still
waiting for Roger Federer to thank him for becoming the first man to beat
Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros which allowed the Swiss to take the 2009 title.
Soderling dumped Nadal, who was then the four-time champion,
out of the French Open in a four-set last-16 stunner nine years ago.
It ended the Spaniard's 31-match win streak in Paris.
The Swede went on to make the final where he lost to Federer
allowing the Swiss to complete the career Grand Slam.
"No, he hasn't thanked me. I'm still waiting,"
joked 33-year-old Soderling at Roland Garros on Thursday.
"When he saw I beat Rafa, I think he was a little bit
happy, of course. But maybe he could have beat him in the finals. Who
Soderling made the final as well the following year when
Nadal gained revenge to claim a fifth French Open.
The Swede, whose career ended abruptly in 2011 after being
diagnosed with mononucleosis, believes that Federer would be playing at Roland
Garros if the title was still missing from his Grand Slam collection which now
The 36-year-old Swiss has skipped the clay-court season for
the last two years, preferring to keep his powder dry for Wimbledon where he is
an eight-time champion.
"I think that what changed is that I think if Roger so
far hadn't won Roland Garros, I think he still would be playing here.
"Now he chose to not play at all on clay for the last
couple of years, which I think is a good decision, because he really wants to
play as long as possible. He's really trying to make his career as long as he
Soderling also believes that Federer, with his 37th birthday
fast approaching, and Nadal, who has just turned 32, are in a race to see who
can end their careers with the most Slams.
Nadal will go to 17 if he wins an 11th Roland Garros this
weekend, just three behind his long-time rival.
"They're just different persons from all of us,"
"They are still hungry. But I really think that the
rivalry between them on court has helped them both.
"I think maybe that's one of the reasons Roger is still
playing, because he feels that, 'Okay, if I retire now or any time soon, if
Rafa plays a few more years, maybe he will beat a few of my records'."
Soderling, who now coaches Swedish player Elias Ymer, won 10
career titles and reached world number four in the rankings.