Soderling, who handed the Spaniard his first ever loss on clay at the French Open this year, powered his way through the Group B match by mixing a hard forehand with a solid backhand to keep Nadal running all over the hard court at the O2 Arena.
“He is a big player in this surface, so (it) is difficult,” Nadal said. “I didn’t play really bad. But in the important moments, I didn’t have this calm, this necessary calm, to win these matches against the best players of the world.”
In the late match, Novak Djokovic rallied from a poor start to beat Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 and move a step closer to the semifinals of the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world.
The second-ranked Nadal can also still advance, but likely needs to win his two remaining group matches. He can also still claim the year-end No. 1 ranking from Roger Federer, but Monday’s loss hasn’t helped his chances.
“If you want to still talk about me (being) No. 1, I can, but I think is not the right moment. My level right now I think is not to be No. 1,” Nadal said. “My level is to be still fighting and practicing hard to be ready as soon as possible to compete another time with equal conditions with everybody.”
Soderling won both…
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