(Reuters) – Robin Soderling has a 0-12 record against Roger Federer and yet the formidable Swede has no fear going into their quarter-final encounter at the French Open.
Swiss Federer beat Soderling in last year’s final in Paris after the Swede had handed Rafael Nadal his only defeat in the claycourt grand slam.
At that time, Soderling had not even bagged a single set against the world number one. Now, he has.
It happened in New York when Soderling lost 6-0 6-3 6-7 7-6 in the quarter-finals of the US Open. The world number five even beat Federer even if only in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi in January.
“I remember a few times I played against him when I came pretty close, especially one in Halle a couple years ago when I served and returned really well,” Soderling told reporters after seeing off Croatian 10th seed Marin Cilic 6-4 6-4 6-2.
“I think that’s what you have to do against him, because of course he’s the best player in the world.
“But even against him you will always get a few chances. Then you have to take them, because he won’t give you any second opportunities.”
Soderling, however, has been impressive so far, dismissing in ruthless fashion Cilic, claycourt specialist Albert Montanes and local favorite Laurent Recouderc.
Soderling believes his coach, former French Open finalist Magnus Norman, has been helping him become more consistent, a key quality on clay.
“We work together as a team. I think we did a really good job. I have many things to thank him for. He’s been really helpful,” he said.
Now that he has beaten Rafa, Soderling has no complex anymore, not even against Federer.
“It’s very difficult, but it’s not impossible, which I showed and which many other players showed in the past,” he said.
(Editing by Miles Evans)