Exit the king

Robin Soderling ended Rafael Nadal’s reign at the French Open Sunday in a four-set match already being hailed as a classic.
When the Swede, ranked 23 in the world, won two of the first three sets, it was the first time Nadal had lost two sets on the red clay of Roland Garros. He had won the tournament the past five years, had been labeled the best clay court player in history, was expected to reach the finals again and again meet Roger Federer for the cup — and set still another record by winning a fifth straight championship.
But by the final set the capacity crowd was no longer surprised to see Soderling, a powerful 6’3” man with an explosive forehand, send shots to the corner of the court past a racing Nadal.
Nadal was playing good tennis; Soderling was better.
The match was in the quarterfinals. Soderling is matches away from claiming his first grand slam victory. But a new era in clay court tennis, which, until Sunday, was dominated by two perfect gentlemen, Nadal and Federer, is underway.
Light a candle for Roger.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.