Robin Soderling, still battling the lingering effects from mononucleosis, will not compete at the Australian Open.
The powerful Swede, who saw his ranking drop to No. 13 this year, has battled injury and illness for most of 2011. He began the year with a flurry of wins at Brisbane, Rotterdam and Marseille, only to be derailed in the Spring by a foot injury. Soderling recovered, but could not seem to find his game for the rest of the year, suffering a third round loss to Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon, before rebounding for a win at his last tournament of the year in July in Bastad. Soderling withdrew from the U.S. Open upon being diagnosed with mono and has been recuperating since.
Soderling took to Twitter to explain his decision to pull out of the Aussie and give a timetable on his return:
Hello my friends. I am very sorry for being away for so long and for not giving many updates but my recovery has been longer than expected. I am feeling better with each day but it will still take some time before I can start practicing in full speed. My goal is to start with practice in January and I hope for tournament comeback in February but at this stage it is hard to know when and where. I hope my body will allow me to do that. I will try to give you more updates. I love reading your messages and appreciate your support and encouragement very much.
Soderling's absence from Australia opens things up a bit, as he is one of the few players outside of the Top 3 who has shown the power and fortitude to beat the Top 3 on the biggest stages. He was the first man to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in 2009, and he followed that up a year later by beating Federer on the same Paris clay.
Here are some highlights from Soderling's two biggest career wins:
Soderling's, or "General Sod" as I like to call him (Superman 2? Anyone? Bueller?), celebration after beating Rafa (at about the 9:05 mark here) is up there with David Ferrer's "Shrug" from this year's World Tour Finals. I like to call it the "Get Out of the City." But you have to say it in a Balki Bartokomous voice. Otherwise it loses it's power.
And who can forget this point, which looked like it would go down as one of Federer's greatest points. Nope. General Sod snuffs it out.
Or this incredible rally that General Sod wins as well:
More from Soderling's win over Federer: