Nadal vs. Soderling seen as grudge match

June 5, 2010 at 5:35 PM
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PARIS, June 5 (UPI) -- In an era when there's little bad blood in men's tennis, Sunday's French Open final between Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling is being seen as a grudge match.

Tennis observers say Nadal is still smarting from his loss to the Swede in last year's fourth round, especially after the pair clashed in 2007 at Wimbledon, when Soderling mimicked the Spaniard's stalling tactics of tugging at his shorts before service, The Telegraph reported.

The exchange between the two that year revealed ill will, the newspaper said.

"I have said hello to (Soderling) seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," Nadal said at the time. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him."

Soderling, who styles himself as a tennis outsider and claims few close friends on the circuit, dismissed Nadal's sniping at him through the press, saying, "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face to face."

Soderling's defeat of Nadal last year in Paris was chalked up to the Spaniard's aching joints, so Sunday's match will be a way for the Swede to prove himself, The Telegraph said.

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