Soderling has reached the French Open final in 2009 and 2010 (credit: ataelw)
Robin Soderling has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past 18 months and the Swede will be a major threat at next week's ATP World Finals.
Sweden has a rich and glittering tennis history with the likes of Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander amassing many of the game's biggest titles during the '70s, '80s and '90s. However the past decade has seen a slight lull in fortunes for this former tennis powerhouse. The likes of Thomas Johansson, Thomas Enqvist and Jonas Bjorkman continued to fly the flag admirably for Scandinavian tennis with Enqvist making the Australian Open final and Johansson going on to win the title in 2002.
However it had been a while since they had a regular, genuine slam contender on all surfaces. Now with the rise of Soderling that has all changed.
Once known as the 'angry man' of the ATP Tour, the 6'4 Soderling has placified his on-court demeanour and intensified the ferocity of his groundstrokes. When he bludgeoned his way to the 2009 French Open final, many wondered if it was a flash in the pan.
Those doubters have been proved wrong. Soderling has shown the ability to adapt his big hitting game to all surfaces and established himself in the top ten by the end of 2009. His ATP World Finals campaign ended in the round-robin stages last year but he still scored a notable win over Rafael Nadal. Back-to-back Masters Series semi-finals in Indian Wells and Miami in the spring cemented his position in the higher echelons of the game before another stunning Roland Garros campaign saw him end Roger Federer's reign as the King of Clay, on the way to a second final.
Quarter-final appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open saw Soderling edge ever closer to the top four but he still lacked that big title to his name. That all changed during an intense week in the French capital as Soderling battled past Andy Roddick and a determined Michael Llodra before finally outplaying Gael Monfils in front of his home fans.
It was a fantastic achievement and puts him in pole position as one of the favourites for London. Although he does not move nearly as well as his competitors at the top of the game, that is the only weakness in the Soderling armoury and he more than makes up for it with his arm-juddering power from the back of the court.
His group which also features Roger Federer, Andy Murray and David Ferrer, looks set to throw up some fascinating clashes.