Soderling claims top scalp again and ends Federer run

ROGER FEDERER’S astonishing run of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals was brought to an abrupt end last night when the world No1 crashed out of the French Open to giant-killer Robin Soderling.

Defending champion Federer looked on course to progress from the quarter-finals when he breezed through the opening set, but came unstuck amid rain interruptions and heavy conditions, collapsing to a shock 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 defeat.

“At some stage you hope they [losses] don’t happen, but they do,” said Federer. “It’s been an amazing streak. If I could have signed for all those semis back then, I would have.

“I’m very proud of that streak and it’s one of the greatest ones I have in my history book.”

It is the second year in succession that big-hitting Swede Soderling has summoned a heroic performance to oust the reigning champion, having beaten Rafael Nadal last year. He had not won in 12 previous matches against Federer, however, and said: “I came close a couple of times before and I feel one or two times that I’ve actually been a little bit unlucky. It is nice to beat the world No1 two years in a row on centre court.”

The loss also threatens to derail Federer’s tilt at racking up the mostweeks at the top of the ATP rankings. He is one shy of matching Pete Sampras’ record of 286, but will have to wait to equal it if Nadal wins his fifth title at Roland Garros, thereby replacing Federer as No1.