Many remember him as one of the only two tennis players in the history of Roland Garros who managed to beat the most Grand Slam winner to be played on the Parisian brick dust. It was for the second round of the 2009 edition when, after 31 consecutive victories and four titles, a tennis player was able to beat Rafael Nadal in one of four major tournaments on the professional ATP circuit.
Almost 11 years ago, on May 31, Robin Soderling achieved, perhaps, one of the best wins of his entire career. Once he beat the Mallorcan, the Swedish tennis player reached the final of the tournament, but could not face Roger Federer, in what was the only title in Roland Garros for the Swiss.
A decade ago, Soderling was considered one of the best players in the world.. He became number 4 in the ranking at the end of 2010 after repeating the final at the Paris Grand Slam -Nadal took revenge and beat him in the definition-, reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the US OPen, and to be crowned champion in Rotterdam and at the Masters 1000 in Paris.
But in 2011, the life of the Nordic tennis player changed forever. “I was at the peak of my career when I fell ill with mononucleosis two years before I retired. Before, for a long time, I had been detected with stress and tiredness. Despite this I continued playing. I was sick all the time because my immune system was weak. It was very difficult to make the decision to retire. I played my last game at age 27 ”Soderling related in an article published by the site. Behind the Racquet.
His last match as a professional was in his hometown. By the end of the Bastad tournament, Robin doubled 6-2 to the Spanish David Ferrer and obtained the 10th title of his career, which started in 2002. Without knowing it, that June 11 he had played his last match as a tennis player.
“In my mind I knew something was wrong, but the medical tests were working. I was playing well until I got mononucleosis. I felt that the combination of my poor immune system and the extra training affected me. Mononucleosis was the last thing my body could tolerate. The doctors told me I had it for the first time in Indian Wells in 2011. At first I didn’t get it wrong, but it got worse after my last tournament in Bastad. I haven’t left home in six months“Soderling said about the symptoms of the disease that ended his sports career.
How did Soderling take the withdrawal and how was his physique affected by mononucleosis? “After a year I started to feel better. I wanted to train increasing the intensity and then the symptoms returned. I felt tired and the fever returned. This happened to me for several years and it was frustrating. I tried to return for three years, but to no avail “I accepted that I could never return. When I made the final decision to stop, it was tough but it was also a relief. I would not have to fight to return and I would have to live in this uncertainty,” he said.
Those were tough years after his last victory for Soderling. In May 2012 he announced that he would return to the courts in July of that year, but the disease did not allow it.. Mononucleosis is a viral condition that affects certain red blood cells, is transmitted by saliva, and generates different symptoms in patients – fever, general discomfort and muscle pain.
In a fragment of his story to the medium dedicated to the world of tennis, Soderling emphasized how the way he lived his sports career affected him, always keeping an eye on what was happening with everything related to his sport. “My main problem was not having that on / off switch. I couldn’t change my mindset during games, training sessions and other situations on the court. I knew how long the tennis seasons were and that you hardly had any rest. It is not easy to disconnect of tennis and you have to find ways to take care of yourself, take care of your body and rest during the season. I look back and I wish there had been more than tennis, “said the 35-year-old former tennis player.
Despite the crude self-criticism about how he faced his career, the Swede does not regret the decisions he made, but he would like to go back in time to make some changes. “I don’t regret what I did. Being a top athlete in any sport is not easy. There are times when I blamed myself. There are times in my career when I wish I had stepped back or not taken it so seriously. ”.
Finally, Soderling recalled what it was like that day of the unforgettable victory against Nadal at Roland Garros. The day he got to the locker room and had hundreds of messages on his cell phone. “People always talk about when I beat Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros in 2009. Of course it was fantastic. No one in the world expected him to win that match. I realized I had accomplished something great, ”said Robin, while also leaving a special message about the man he managed to beat in the brick dust.
“I appreciate the support I received that day and that I continue to receive for winning that match, but the great story is that of Nadal. We will never see someone capable of winning 12 Grand Slam again “he concluded.