The Painful Memory of Fernando Gonzalez’s Loss to Robin Soderling at Roland Garros 2009

In full dispute of Roland Garros 2023with a highly inspired Nicolás Jarry as the main national credit, comes to mind a painful memory that had as its protagonist in the Parisian ‘Grande’ Fernando Gonzalezretired Chilean tennis player and former number five of the world.

It was 2009 and ‘Mano de Piedra’ arrived at the tournament full of inspiration most prestigious on claymainly due to his condition of 12th in the classification and for having won at the beginning of that year -for the fourth time- the ATP of Viña del Mar.

With a superlative level, with full confidence in his game, the ‘Bombardero de La Reina’ defeated the Czech with authority in the first rounds Use Vanekto Portuguese Rui Machadoto French Josselin Ouanna and to romanian Victor Hanescu.

Then a major brand challenge would come. In the quarterfinals he would face off against the British Andy Murray, the third seed in the draw. There, González used his greatest experience on clay to win with partial scores of 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 and 6-4.

The bronze and silver medalist in singles at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, respectively, was already at the gates of the final. The next opponent of his was the Swedish Robin Soderlingsensation of the tournament by eliminating in the round of 16 none other than the ‘king’ of the French open, the Spanish Rafael Nadal.

In countless interviews, González admitted that the setback against Soderling is one of the three most painful losses of his career. And it is not for less, since it came to be 2 equal sets -after losing the first two- and 4-1 up in the last. What happened?.

An ungrateful semifinal: a start full of doubts and errors

the santiaguino started well by making a break in the third game, feeding the illusion. However, with the passing of the minutes, ‘Feña’ was losing precision in his blows and added many errors.

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Thus the Scandinavian gained in confidence, raised his level and did not give spaces for the recovery of the Chilean. He closed his sleeve with a 6-3in 34 minutes.

A similar story would be lived in the second set. González could not play comfortably and managed to wait for the error of a solid Soderling. The European dominated the rallies at mercy, based on adjusted rights and a devastating setback.

González’s attack game, with his customary uncounterable forehand, it did not appear. He was moved from side to side by his opponent and only managed to defend himself. Set 2 was 7-5 for the swedish

The ‘Bomber’ appeared: a movie comeback that ignited the miracle

From the third set the situation would change in the Philippe Chatrier, the central court of the Stade Roland Garros. a Chilean wounded in his pride He showed another attitude, affirmed his blows and went on the offensive.

In addition, the then pupil of the Argentine Martín Rodríguez raised his percentage of first services, making an opponent too uncomfortable did not have the same mobility of before.

Considerably increasing his number of ‘winners’, compared to the first two sleeves, the national began to discount and believe in his company by staying with the third chapter for 7-5.

With the passing of the minutes, ‘Feña’s’ blows were more and more accurate and Soderling’s pressure grew like wildfire. The spirits were notoriously opposed to the initial sets and the Chilean took advantage of that to ring a break in the tenth game and win the set by 6-4.

The great anecdote of that match occurred in that fourth set, with the score 4-4 and 15-0 in favor of the national. A wide ball was marked as fair by the linesman, further corroborated by the umpire, and ‘Gonzo’ explodedto such an extent that he ended up erasing the mark of the ball with his butt.

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From having it won to falling unbelievably: the point that changed the history of the match

The court was a boiler facing the decisive partial. The native of Tibro showed himself without legs and González was inspired looking for define quickly the match. ‘Hand of Stone’ broke in the fourth game and in a matter of minutes established a 4-1.

A score that led the finalist of the 2007 Australian Open to a historic final and that seemed virtually impossible to counter. But….

Soderling, then 25th in the world, took a second wind at the right time and every blow he took, especially his flat and powerful backhand, made the ‘Bomber’ thoroughly uncomfortable.

As the minutes passed, the European brought out a formidable inner strength and a key moment would come that ‘Feña’ himself recounted to the historic Argentine tennis player José Luis Clerc on ESPN.

“Terrible. He was 4-1 up and serving him 15-30, I have it recorded. I have a backhanded ball left in the middle of the court and I said ‘I’m going to go for one more slice because I’m very shit (physically)-, and I went very deep, ”he began by saying.

“I remember that point very well, it paralyzed me, because the moment I hit him I said ‘I can’t be such a shitty’, but the ball hit the line and the guy he takes a parallel backhand with his left hand that put it there and I was paralyzed”, he added.

After the cardboard, the triple Olympic medalist recounts that “later he scored 4-2, very nervous, and he broke me with four strong ‘mangazos’… then he quickly put 4 equals, then he broke me again and the game ended in just 15 to 20 minutes”.

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End of the Parisian dream for the national that June 5, 2009, in three hours and 25 minutes of action. “That defeat did hurt a lot… One thinks ‘if I had won I would have played the final with Roger (Federer)’, and it is different to play the final at Roland Garros than in Australia. They are lessons and life experiences”, said the champion as a junior at Roland Garros in 1998.

“That night I went out partying and I met (Bjorn) Borg. She approached me, she had been at the game, and she tells me ‘I know it hurts‘” he asserted.

Fernando Gonzalez had it all to continue writing milestones in the clay of Paris, but bad luck, fate, and Robin Soderling himself prevented it.

What happened to Soderling after the triumph over ‘Fer’?

The man who became the first tennis player to defeat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in that tournament, after 31 wins in a row from Manacor, would face off in the final with the Swiss legend Roger Federerwho came to beat the Argentine in five sets Juan Martin del Potro.

In the definition, the one from Basel and then 2nd in the world did not give Robin any options. He prevailed in straight sets, for 6-1, 7-6 (1) y 6-4to win the ‘Big’ on clay for the first and only time.

In addition, Federer got the only Grand Slam he had yet to treasure and took revenge for the finals he lost in 2006, 2007 and 2008 against Rafa.

2023-06-04 10:16:15
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