Although nearly everyone would put their house on Nadal to win his 5th straight French Open title, Robin Soderling is one of the dark horses that he should be wary of.
Nadal beat him so convincingly a few weeks ago in Rome 6-1, 6-0 and is 3 and 0 in head to head results against Soderling but there has been some fierce rivalry between these two which started at this very tournament in the first round of 2006 in which Nadal clinically won in straight sets.
The tension between these two esculated at Wimbledon 2007 in a match that was played out over 3 days due to the weather. There was alot of niggling going on from Soderling in response to the time Nadal took between points and also some of his mannerisms. There was no love lost here between the two and Nadal went on to win 6-4 6-4 6-7(7) 4-6 7-5. This to me proved there was enough fire inside the belly of Soderling to take revenge and upset the world number one on what could be described as his very own court having never lost a match on it and over the course of the last four years only losing 7 sets from 31 matches.
The key to this victory could be put down to many things like Nadal not at his best or Nadal had peaked too soon this year winning so many titles already on the red surface, but the two things that really stood out for me in this match was (1) Soderling believed in himself and his game plan and (2) he went out there to make Nadal work and put him more on the defensive by hitting more to the strength of Nadal (forehand) and then exposing more of his weaker side in the backhand.