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Upset king takes out Federer

Robin Soderling, left, and Roger Federer volley during their quarterfinal battle, a shocking victory for Soderling, who won three straight sets after falling in the first.

Associated Press

Robin Soderling, left, and Roger Federer volley during their quarterfinal battle, a shocking victory for Soderling, who won three straight sets after falling in the first.

PARIS — His French Open reign suddenly over, his record streak of 23 Grand Slam semifinals done, too, Roger Federer paused briefly as he trudged off the court at dusk, acknowledging the fans' applause with a polite smile and a quick wave.

He's certainly not used to bidding adieu so soon.

Bothered by pouring rain and his big-hitting foe, the top-seeded Federer wasted a lead and plenty of openings Tuesday, succumbing to No. 5 Robin Soderling 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. If Soderling's name sounds familiar, it's because he stunned four-time champion Rafael Nadal in the French Open's fourth round last year before losing to Federer in the final.

For the first time in six years, the men's semifinals at a major will not involve 16-time Grand Slam champion Federer.

"They all come to an end at some stage. You hope they don't happen, but they do. It was a great run," Federer said, before adding with a wry smile: "Now I've got the quarterfinal streak going, I guess."

Federer had won 117 matches in a row in the first five rounds at majors, dating to a loss to Gustavo Kuerten in the third round at the French Open on May 29, 2004. Federer advanced twice when opponents withdrew.

"I respect everyone, but I'm always — how do you say? — I'm honest enough to myself that I know I can win them all," said Federer, who would cede his No. 1 ranking if Nadal wins the title.

Among the many reasons Tuesday's result was so unexpected is that Federer was 12-0 against Soderling, having won 28 of the 30 sets they'd played. So who, exactly, would have thought Soderling could win three sets in a single day?

Soderling, for one.

"Even though I lost so many times, I always have a chance to win," said Soderling, 25, who'd never been past the third round at a Grand Slam tournament until last year's French Open. "I always believe that I can win."

His next match is Friday against No. 15 Tomas Berdych.

No. 17 Francesca Schiavone gave Italy its first female semifinalist here since 1954 by beating No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-2. Schiavone plays No. 5 Elena Dementieva, who beat No. 19 Nadia Petrova 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.

2 Players who have beaten Federer at Roland Garros since 2004 — Nadal four times and Soderling.

49 Winners for Soderling, nine more than Federer. "He played really well,'' Federer said.

117 Consecutive matches won by Federer in the first five rounds at majors until Tuesday.

23 Consecutive majors in which Federer had reached the semifinals until Tuesday.

fast facts

Today's top matches

Men: No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 19 Nicolas Almagro, No. 3 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 22 Jurgen Melzer

Women: No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 7 Sam Stosur, No. 4 Jelena Jankovic vs. Yaroslava Shvedova

TV: 8 a.m., Tennis Channel; noon, ESPN2

Upset king takes out Federer 06/01/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 7:27am]
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