Anyone who saw Wednesday night's quarterfinal knew Roger was not only at his best but also a bit lucky to have gotten past Soderling in four sets. Even though Roger totally dominated the first two sets and had chances in the next two, anything could have happened in the tie breakers. Soderling took chances on his second serve, on the return of serve and came back from a deficit to win the tie break. He could have won the fourth set tie break also if his big swing on that second serve return stayed in. Even though Roger fights like no one else (his losses are much closer than any other #1 ever), there is no guarantee that he would have won the fifth set. Soderling would have become the biggest giant killer of all time - stopping the unbeatable Nadal at Roland Garrows and then stopping the unbeatable Federer at the US Open.
But that is Soderling's extreme bad luck. It is clear to keen tennis observers that had Soderling not run into Federer at French, at Wimbledon, and now at the US Open, he would have advanced further in the draw. Which means he would have taken other people down. That means if he were on the opposite side of the draw, he would have been a serious threat to Nadal. If he could take down Nadal in Roland Garrows, and was on the verge of forcing a fifth set against Roger at the US Open then he would most likely have beaten Nadal. It was clear to McEnroe on Wednesday as to how Soderling could beat Nadal at Roland Garrows.
So that is Nadals great fortune that he escaped Soderling on his side of the draw. And with Murray out and Djokovic on the opposite side his path to the finals is wide open. With his luck he might run into Federer in the finals. Tennis is all about match-ups. Federer has a positive match-up against anyone that he has run into which explains his 22 straight semi-finals in slams and 16 grandslams. The lone exception is Nadal with whom their match-up has been in Nadal's favor (even though 9 of his 13 losses are on clay, 8 in finals). But Nadal does not have the same positive match-up against all other players on all surfaces. That explains his 6 slams to Roger's 15. So for Rafa to win a slam he has to avoid several dangerous players on his side of the draw, let Roger take them down on his side, and then run into Roger in the finals.
That is what the 2009 US Open looks like at this point.
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