Top-seeded Nadal loses in fourth round at French Open tennis tournament

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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PARIS - Rafael Nadal's unbeaten run at the French Open is over.
The four-time defending champion lost to Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) Sunday in the fourth round, ending his record 31-match winning streak at Roland Garros.
Soderling, seeded 23rd at this year's tournament, ran Nadal ragged on centre court with his hard serve and booming forehand.
"This is just one more match," Soderling said.
Nadal has dominated the French Open since his first match on the red clay at Roland Garros. In his 31 previous matches, he had lost only seven sets - the last one coming against Roger Federer in the 2007 final.
"He can't feel good right now," said Soderling, who called Nadal "the greatest clay-court player of all time."
Defending women's champion Ana Ivanovic also lost Sunday, while top-seeded Dinara Safina advanced to the quarter-finals with another easy win.
Also on the men's side, No. 3 Andy Murray of Britain and No. 12 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile made the quarter-finals.
The last time two defending champions lost in the same round at a Grand Slam tournament was in 2004 when both Justine Henin and Juan Carlos Ferrero lost in the second round of the French Open.
Nadal had won three of the last four major titles, missing out only on the U.S. Open. After winning the Australian Open, he had a chance to complete a Grand Slam this year.
He was also trying to become the first man to win five straight French Open titles.
Instead, the draw has completely opened up for three-time finalist Roger Federer. The former No. 1 needs only to win the French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, and his road got clearer Saturday when potential semifinal opponent Novak Djokovic was eliminated.
The eighth-seeded Ivanovic did little right on Court Suzanne Lenglen, converting only two of five break points and making 20 unforced errors in her 6-2, 6-3 loss to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Before the final game of the first set, Ivanovic called for a trainer to look at her neck. Azarenka then held to take the lead, and broke Ivanovic's serve in the first and third games of the second set to take a 4-0 lead.
Ivanovic won her only Grand Slam tournament title at last year's French Open.
The 19-year-old Azarenka lost in the fourth round at Roland Garros last year, and will next be playing in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
Safina had a much easier time on centre court, advancing to the quarter-finals by conceding only one game in a 6-1, 6-0 win over Aravane Rezai of France.
The top-seeded Russian won 11 straight games to close out the match. She has lost only five games through four rounds at Roland Garros, and has won four of the eight sets she has played at love.
"I'm just surprised that it's really like five games that I lost before getting into the quarters," Safina said. "It's not a bad feeling, and I hope if I continue like this I can go a long way."
Safina took over the No. 1 ranking this year, but she has yet to win a Grand Slam title. She lost to Ivanovic in last year's French Open final, and fell to Serena Williams in this year's Australian Open title match.
But since taking over the top spot in the women's rankings, Safina said things have been easier on her.
"It was too much pressure for me," Safina said of the rise to the top. "It was always going on the court not to lose a match, and of course it's always difficult to play when you step on the court and you're afraid of losing."

Organizations: French Open, Australian Open, U.S. Open

Geographic location: Britain, Chile, Belarus France

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