'I can’t let Rafael Nadal dictate the points', says former ATP ace

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'I can’t let Rafael Nadal dictate the points', says former ATP ace

Rafael Nadal boasts a stellar record at Roland Garros, where this year he achieved his 13th title thanks to his 100th overall victory in Port d'Auteuil. Thanks to that success, the former world number 1 has thus equaled the record of 20 Grand Slam titles of eternal rival Roger Federer, crowning a very long chase.

The 34-year-old from Manacor has lost only two matches in Paris: in 2009 against Robin Soderling and in 2015 against Novak Djokovic. The Swede’s exploit eleven years ago went down in history as one of the most unexpected of the modern era, as well as helping Federer in his quest to win his first and only trophy in the French capital.

Speaking recently on the podcast 'The Functional Tennis', the two-time finalist in Paris recalled that extraordinary feat, also favored by the Spaniard's not perfect physical condition. Rafa would take his revenge in the last act of the 2010 edition, preventing Soderling from making two fantastic weeks in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower even more memorable.

Soderling on his amazing victory over Nadal

“My game plan was to play really aggressive. I just felt like okay, if I gonna win this match I can’t let Rafael Nadal dictate the points. I have to be the one taking the initiative and just take some more chances than I normally did.

And that worked, and mentally I was, it was really good as well" - Robin Soderling said. “I remember actually tie break forth set. I got up to 6-1 I think with five match points. Now for the first time in the match I’m probably the favorite, and everybody’s favorite so now I have everything to lose and I think I lost the first point after that and I’m really glad that he didn’t win one or two because then I would start to shake a little bit”.

After winning, Soderling tried his best to be modest and focus on his next round and try to reach the end of the Grand Slam. “And I really tried to not be too happy and I really wanted to stay focused because I really felt that, I don’t want to be one of those guys beating, beating the top see just to you know be happy and and come out flat in the next round and lose the next round”.

Soderling did reach the French Open final in 2009. He lost out to Roger Federer. But in 2010, Soderling defeated Federer to reach the French Open final but lost to Rafa Nadal.