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Wimbledon: Nadal beats Soderling in fist-shaking fest

June 30, 2010 | 10:43 am

Second-seeded and 2008 Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal played aggressive, exuberant tennis Wednesday afternoon. His guttural grunts, his cries of "Vamos" accompanied by chest-thumping that seemed to make the seats rattle, and most of all his groundstrokes engineered to do nothing except hit the grass with a thunderous thud, it all combined to put out sixth-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-1.

With the exit earlier of top-seeded and defending champion Roger Federer, who was upset by Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, Nadal will become the new favorite. The injuries that had bothered him earlier in the tournament involving his knee and arm seemed of no matter Wednesday.

In fact, it was Soderling who asked for the trainer to treat what appeared to be blisters on his foot.

Through the first three sets, Soderling and Nadal exchanged in-your-face fist pumps whenever either hit a winner. The crowd on Court 1 seemed firmly on the side of the Spaniard, who won here in 2008 but who couldn't defend his title last year because of a knee injury.

-- Diane Pucin, reporting from Wimbledon, England