“When you’re hanging in there against a team you were supposed to lose to, there’s a belief that you can win.”
-RICHARD LUSTBERG, sports psychologist

Well, the impossible happened yesterday in Paris at the French Open.

Rafael Nadal was finally beaten.

It was his first EVER loss at Roland Garros.

He had a 31-match winning streak and 32 consecutive sets won.


And he lost to…

Robin Soderling?

Soderling has never beaten Nadal. In fact, they played just weeks ago in Rome and Soderling won only one game. Oh, and Soderling has never gotten past the third round in a major tournament either.

So what happened yesterday? Soderling was in the zone. Nadal was not. There is not much difference in physical ability, so that means, on any given day, anyone can win. The difference is in the mind.

Soderling went all out.

He hit twice as many errors as Nadal, but he also hit twice as many winners. By being aggressive, he did not let Rafa take charge. He did not let Nadal play his game.

I like Soderling’s mindset: “I said to myself, ‘This is just another match. I won one set, why can’t I win two or three?’ I had to play aggressive against Nadal. You can’t just push the ball back.”

After one of the biggest upsets in tennis history, the giant-killer said, “I don’t want to get too excited, I still have another match.”

Nadal, surprisingly, during his interview, didn’t seem crushed. He even made a joke.

“You can’t win all the time. I have to lose with the same calm that I win with. This just shows that I need to prepare better, physically and mentally. I just have to work harder. My next preparation is the pool at my house. Give me three days, then I’m back to work.”

I am convinced that this will only be a minor setback for Rafa. After his match, he walked out of the locker room and instead of quickly exiting, he made a point to visit the tournament’s player support and transportation desks to say, “Ciao, merci.”

That’s a class act.

Now the question remains, will Roger (Federer) prevail?

Will he relax too much and possibly lose, or will he take advantage of this huge upset and win the only grand slam that has eluded him?

Only time will tell…

Thanks for reading.