Philadelphia, PA – Have you noticed anyone missing from the Top 10 over the last year and a half?
In case you haven't, then I'll have to refresh your memory.
Swedish star Robin Soderling hasn't competed on the ATP World Tour since July of last year. That's 16 months already and the 2013 season doesn't start for another two months (give or take).
The 28-year-old landed on the sidelines in the summer of last year after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.
But since when does mono (a.k.a. the "kissing disease") keep you out of action for a year and a half?!
In all fairness to Soderling, injuries have also played a role in his lengthy absence.
Just this week, Soderling said if he does return to competitive tennis next year that it might be in the form of exhibition events for veterans??
"The final decision on my career has yet to peak," he said. "If I get back in 2013, then I do not know ... I guess I just stayed veteran circuit. Already would probably be too heavy to get back.
"I'm frustrated because I'm doing what I can. If you would have asked me before two-three weeks ago, I would have been really positive. Could I play basically every day, but then I catch cold. Sometimes I go full half an hour, the next day it's too much. Hard to deal with it. Impotency is upsetting. I also consulted with sports psychologists, situation is irritating, but not to drive you crazy. Gradually, I realized that I only accept state. Nothing is certain."
The English isn't perfect, but I think you get the point.
Robin Bo Carl Soderling reached as high as No. 4 in the world in November of 2010, thanks in part on reaching back-to-back French Open finals in 2009 and 2010, only to lose to two of the greatest tennis players of all-time, in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, respectively. Soderling did, however, stun the top seed and defending champion in both of those events, as he shocked Nadal at Roland Garros in 2009 and Federer there in 2010. The big-hitting Swede became the first, and still only, player to beat Nadal at the French, where the mighty Spaniard is an amazing 52-1 all-time. And when Soderling vanquished Federer in Paris in 2010, it halted Federer's seemingly unstoppable Grand Slam semifinal streak at 23. Those results would have to qualify as two of the most-impressive wins in recent Grand Slam history, and the one against the clay-court Goliath that is Nadal was considered, at the time, the biggest upset in the history of major men's tennis.
Soderling landed in the U.S. Open quarterfinals in 2009 and 2010; a Wimbledon quarterfinal in '10; and was a semifinalist at the prestigious ATP World Tour Finals in 2009. I'd say he's pretty good.
The 28-year-old Tibro native posted back-to-back year-end Top-10 finishes in '09 and '10 and had been a mainstay in the Top 20 since 2008. But he's currently unranked due to his inactivity, or having not competed on the circuit for 12 months.
The 6-foot-4 slugger, who excels on indoor surfaces, has appeared in 20 career ATP finals, including 10 titles, with four of the championships coming last winter and spring, before he was mysteriously derailed. He tallied a whopping six titles in a one-year span from 2010-11, including a big win at the indoor Paris Masters event in 2010.
Note: Seven of his 10 career titles have come indoors. Can you say specialist?
In the interim, an idle Soderling became a father, as his wife, Jenni Mostrom, a model who reportedly played golf in college, gave birth to a baby girl, Olivia, just last month.
Soderling was never quite on track to join the Swedish pantheon of tennis greats -- Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg -- but, at the very least, he was on track to becoming a perennial Top-10er and, perhaps, a potential Grand Slam champ. Heck, even Thomas Johansson, who was not of the same caliber as Soderling, snuck out a Grand Slam win in Australia in 2002, the in-between period when the Pete Sampras' and Andre Agassis were preparing to relinquish their power to the Roger Federers and Rafael Nadals of the world.
And if Soderling doesn't make it back, he can still fall back on his more than $10 million in career prize money.
Is he actually coming back?
I surely don't know.