Nadal hammers Soderling to win his fifth French crown | sports | Hindustan Times
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Nadal hammers Soderling to win his fifth French crown

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2010 01:30 IST

Rafael Nadal reclaimed his French Open crown in emphatic style on Sunday when he battered Sweden's Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 to win the title for the fifth time in six years.

The 24-year-old Spaniard weathered some fierce early hitting by the powerful Soderling before taking command on Court Philippe Chatrier and surging to victory in two hours 18 minutes.

Nadal was in a miserly mood against the man who stunned him in last year's fourth round, his only defeat at Roland Garros, and Soderling's challenge fizzled out in disappointing fashion.

Soderling, last year's runner-up, could find no way through Nadal's defences and once he dropped serve in the fifth game of the first set the outcome seemed inevitable.

Nadal, who now has seven grand slam titles to his name, wrapped up victory when Soderling netted a backhand before collapsing on to his back, clenching his fists and then bursting into tears as he sat on his chair.

Nadal is just the second man to win Roland Garros at least five times and he is now within one victory of equalling Sweden's Bjorn Borg record of six titles.

Borg had predicted Soderling would win the final, while the consensus had been that if conditions were heavy, the Swede would have the advantage.

But despite a morning thunderstorm, the match began in warm, overcast conditions, with a packed crowd of just under 15,000 that included the Queen of Spain, Sofia, and music stars, Beyonce and Jay Z.

Immediately the pattern was set, Soderling slamming his flat groundstrokes so deep that Nadal was constantly forced to hit off the back foot.

But unlike last year, when Soderling barely missed and Nadal was below par, this time the Spaniard's retrieving was at its very best and the Swede was forced into mistakes.

Any chance Soderling had of getting back into the match depended on a strong start to the third set but he gifted Nadal a break in the first game as another forehand slipped wide.

The capacity crowd, who had cheered for Soderling late in the first set and early in the second, went strangely quiet as Nadal closed in on victory.

And when Soderling netted a backhand, the title was the Spaniard's.