Tennis: Soderling Shocks Nadal into Career-first Roland Garros Loss

Paris, May 31 (DPA) : Swedish Viking Robin Soderling used his flailing forehand to stun Rafael Nadal into his first career defeat at the French Open Sunday as women's defending champion Ana Ivanovic joined the men's holder in a fourth-round loss.

Soderling made history as he stopped four-time Roland Garros trophy-holder Nadal's red-hot run on clay at 31 consecutive wins at Roland Garros with a 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) victory in three and a half hours.

"I played a great match," said the 24-year-old Swede. "I've had four good matches here. This is the biggest challenge you can have, playing Nadal, the best clay court player of all times on clay, best of five sets in Roland Garros."

Nadal had been bidding to become the first player of either sex to win the event five times in a row. He stood 3-0 against Soderling coming in, having crushed the Swede in their only other clay meeting in Paris three years ago.

"I didn't play my best tennis, I didn't attack in any moment," said Nadal. "I played very short. When one player plays bad, he must lose - that's what happened today.

"I have to accept with the same calm when I win and when I lose. After four years I lose here, and the season continue.

"I won four years in a row playing the same, that's the truth. This year I played the same and I lost. What happen? I lost. That's it."

Ivanovic fell 6-2, 6-3 to teenaged Victoria Azarenka of Belarus as the Serb defending champion failed to deliver after working to overcome a recent right knee injury.

Ivanovic, her ranking down to eighth, beat Dinara Safina, currently number one in the world, for her only Grand Slam title at Roland Garros a year ago.

Soderling's feat was cheered by the showcase court crowd as Nadal was toppled. The ice-calm Scandinavian who had never been past the third round at the event, calmly unleashed 61 winners and overcame 59 unforced errors as he took down the king of clay.

The number 25 won the opening set in just 34 minutes to announce his intentions as he handed Nadal the Spaniard's first losing set in Paris since the 2007 final against Roger Federer.

Nadal scrambled back into contention by winning the 75-minute second set with a runaway tiebreak before Soderling again began to dominate.

The underdog secured the third set with a break and recovered after falling 0-2 down in the fourth, breaking Nadal to love in the third game and staying with the frustrated Spaniard all the way into another decider.

Soderling nailed the victory on his second match point, with a Nadal volley at the net lifting wide.

The surprise dropped a bomb on the tournament which Nadal has dominated from the moment he first stepped onto the clay of Roland Garros in 2005.

Andy Murray broke fresh ground as he reached first quarter-final at the tournament with a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 defeat of Croatian Marin Cilic.

"I came through all the tough situations well," said the world number three. "I played a solid tiebreak, and, you know, I was obviously very happy to win in straight sets, because he's been playing very well."

The third-seeded Scot will next take on a huge hitter in Chile's Fernando Gonzalez after the 12th seed crushed Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-2, 6-4, 6-2

"This year I've been playing in a really good level," said Gonzalez, a three-time Paris quarter-finalist. "I think I've play good every match, almost every match."

Women's top seed Safina continued her destructive march through the draw, cutting down the penultimate home women's hope Aravane Rezai 6-1, 6-0 to reach the last eight.

The defeat leaves only Virginie Razzano to defend French pride at this edition.

In four Week One matches, Russian world number one Safina has lost a mere five games as she works to solidify her top ranking form chasing Serena Williams.

"Overall, I'm trying to dominate, because there is no other chance for me. I'm not a roadrunner player, otherwise it's going to be long match.

"Since I became number one, I think I'm playing better and better," said the winner. "It feels good getting into the quarter-finals like this."

Slovak Dominika Cibulkova reached the first Grand Slam quarter-final of her career, following up on an Australian Open fourth round as she defeated Agnes Szavay of Hungary 6-2, 6-4.


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Title: Tennis: Soderling Shocks Nadal into Career-first Roland Garros Loss

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