Robin Soderling is a Swedish Tennis Player that has been rising up the rankings lately. He has a big game and can compete with the world’s elite on any given day. Let’s take a look at his biography and break down his game in detail!
Robin Soderling: A game built around
big serves and forehands!
Soderling was born in 1984 in Tibro, Sweden. He was a very successful junior tennis player, winning the prestigious Orange Bowl tournament in 2001! He does not come from a family of professional sportsmen like so many other pro players. His father is a lawyer and his mother a housewife.
Soderling turned pro in 2001, the year that he won the Orange Bowl. Since then he has established himself inside the world’s top ten players.
So far his career highlights are 9 ATP Tour titles and a career high ranking of number 4 in the world!
He is also known for being the only player so far to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009.
A lot of his big success came during his time with coach Magnus Norman. The two worked together from 2008 until the end of 2010. During this time Soderling improved his ranking from number 17 to a high of number 4 in 2010!
Soderling’s biggest weapon is his forehand. He can hit the ball incredibly hard and really hurt opponents with this shot!
Check out this video of Robin Soderling ripping forehands!
Like all the other male pro players these days, Robin Soderling swings with a high to low to high swing pattern and his racket moves on an inside-out path.
He tends to turn his upper body a lot, often times more than most other pros.
This results in a lot of coiling and uncoiling. One other thing to note is that on a lot of shots his racket does not stay on the right side of his body, like it does for most other male pros.
He takes his racket somewhat behind his back, like many female pro players do. This complicates the swing a little bit and could be a reason why he is not quite as consistent with the forehand yet as he would like.
Soderling uses neutral as well as open stances, depending on the situation that he finds himself in.
Using the neutral stance allows him to hit a bit flatter and really penetrate the court to finish points!
Quite a few pros on the men’s tour are not very comfortable at doing this and I believe it is a big advantage that he has in his game!
Overall he makes great use of the kinetic chain from the ground up.
To learn more about the kinetic chain visit the Tennis Strokes page on this website!
Robin Soderling hits a very simple and efficient backhand.
He starts with great grips. His left hand is on bevel 7 and his right hand appears to be on bevel 2 as far as I can see on the available videos.
On the two-hander, it is common for players to not take the racket up very high but rather just turn the upper body. Soderling starts his motion in exactly that fashion. He starts the motion with a very good body turn and no unnecessary arm action. This makes it a very short and compact motion where not much can go wrong!
He then swings to contact on an inside-out swing path. At contact he keeps his right arm bent and straightens out the left arm. He also keeps his head very still around contact, which helps to hit the ball clean every single time. Overall a very solid two-handed backhand!
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Soderling has a huge serve!
At times he serves with incredible first serve speeds at high percentages. His serving accuracy and consistency is not quite as good yet as he would probably like.
Robin Soderling serving a 140 mph ace against Murray!
As you can see, Soderling has a very fluid arm action on his serve. His arm moves from the right side of his body over to the left side during the backswing, which is a commonality among great servers. The arm action on the serve is not about up-and-down and scratching your back like many people still believe!
Almost all the other key body positions
are in place for his serve as well!
He really elevates his body through contact and his racket moves up to contact on edge, resulting in great pronation.
One interesting thing to note is that he does not get much of a separation angle between his hips and his shoulders. This means that he does not turn his shoulders so much that his back shows partly to the net. Almost all great servers do that. This could add another element of acceleration to his serve and it is scary to think that this serve could be even bigger with more shoulder turn away from the target!
Soderling is not afraid to come in after his big forehands but unfortunately his net game is not that good.
He misses routine volleys, especially on the backhand side. Technically his forehand volley looks solid. He has a very short compact motion and moves the racket forward on a relatively straight line rather than chopping down too much. The reason he misses forehand volleys is most likely more a lack of confidence.
On his backhand volley Soderling uses a grip that makes it difficult to volley well. It is very hard to see exactly what grip he uses on the videos but it seems like his index knuckle is over on bevel 2.5. This opens up the racket face too much. In order to compensate for that he needs to adjust his wrist downward into a somewhat unstable position.
On easier shots he can adjust his wrist position to flatten out the racket face and hit the ball fine but when the ball comes really fast and hard it becomes very difficult and the backhand volley gets a bit shaky.
Robin Soderling plays a tactical style that is very typical in the pro game these days.
He builds his game around hitting big serves and big forehands. Most people would call him a hard hitter.
One of the big advantages he has over many other players from a tactical standpoint, is that he is fearless in taking the ball early and flattening out his shots. He can hurt anybody in the world with these shots!
One shot that he could improve upon
is his backhand down the line!
His opponents are used to him hitting cross-court and waiting to hit his forehand. If he could hit more flat backhands down the line that would really make life a lot more difficult for his opponents. Since he has a very compact backhand motion this should be a matter of simply practicing it enough.
Having such a big game from the baseline, Soderling needs to follow his big shots up to the net to finish off points.
He actually does this quite often but he is simply not a good enough net player yet. If he gets more consistent at the net in finishing off points this would make him a lot tougher to beat!
Lastly, Soderling could improve his defense a bit. He is not very good at recognizing when to take some speed of the ball. The Top 3 guys all know when to be offensive and when to defend. Developing a solid defensive slice would be a great thing to start working on for Robin Soderling!
Overall Soderling has a solid game plan but could still improve in certain tactical areas!
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Robin Soderling is quite tall and therefore will never be one of the greatest movers on the tour.
I believe movement was a big issue in the early years of his career but in recent years it has certainly improved.
Most likely Magnus Norman helped Soderling a lot in this area while he was his coach. Norman as a player was one of the fittest guys on the tour and was known for his tough workouts.
I believe that the mental aspect of the game has improved for Robin Soderling from a few years ago.
He is still not where he needs to be in this area though if he consistently wants to compete with Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic.
On a good day, Soderling can beat anybody in the world and his game is phenomenal. Unfortunately though, Soderling cannot bring his A-game on a consistent enough basis.
Mental toughness is about winning matches when you are not feeling well and not having your best day and that is what makes someone like Nadal so great. If Soderling can improve his mental toughness, he has the game to consistently compete with the Top3 guys!
Former coach Magnus Norman has talked about working with him on his mentality. In an interview at the end of 2010 Norman said the following: In the past Robin was throwing away matches that he should have won. He was affected by the wind, spectators, by things that he could not control. What I was trying to do when I took over was to change his mentality, make it a strength!
Norman has certainly done a good job but Soderling still has a long way to go in my opinion!
I rank Robin Soderling’s skills in the following order:
The number one thing to work on for Robin Soderling is his mental toughness!
Watching him play in big matches, he simply makes a few key unforced errors in important situations that the guys ahead of him do not make. The top guys will actually up their level when it really matters and so far Soderling is not able to do this on a consistent basis.
Some tennis coaches can certainly do a great job in helping players in this area, but he could also hire a mental coach. More mental toughness should lead to more consistency in his game.
Another area to work on is his net game. His huge groundstrokes give him many opportunities to come in and finish off points but his volleys are still too shaky.
He could also work on developing a better defensive game and a strong defensive slice shot in particular!
So much for the Robin Soderling Biography and Game Analysis