Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Soderling keeps dream alive

2009 French Open - Day Ten

Robin Soderling continued his stunning run at the French Open with a straight-set victory over Nikolay Davydenko.

The 24-year-old Swede, seeded 23 at Roland Garros, recorded arguably the biggest upset in the tournament's history on Sunday by knocking out world number one and four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal.

And he was in equally imperious form again today to see off Davydenko 6-1 6-3 6-1 on Suzanne Lenglen court and claim his place in the semi-finals, where he will face either Andy Murray or Fernando Gonzalez.

Soderling played out of his skin in his first last-eight match at a grand slam to end Nadal's 31-match unbeaten streak on the Paris clay on Sunday, and continued in much the same vein today.

While some people expected his level to dip, he clearly had other ideas and produced another masterclass of mighty groundstrokes to triumph in just an hour and 41 minutes.

The world number 25 raced through the first set, breaking his Russian opponent twice to wrap it up 6-1 in just 23 minutes.

The second set was a much tighter affair, with the first six games going with serve.

But Soderling, who headed into today's contest buoyed by having beaten Davydenko in three of their five previous meetings including both times on clay, then took control.

He broke the world number 11 in game seven, survived a double fault in a hard-fought game to consolidate at 5-3 and then rounded off the set with a second break.

Davydenko also enjoyed an impressive victory on Sunday, albeit not such a high profile one, seeing off eighth seed Fernando Verdasco with a surprisingly comfortable 6-2 6-2 6-4 win.

But the shellshocked Russian was thoroughly outplayed today and hardly got a look-in in the third set.

He managed only one further game in the match - his first service game of what turned out to be the final set - as Soderling completed the obliteration.


Davydenko was understandably disappointed to have picked up only five games over the three sets against an opponent he would have been expected to overcome at the start of the tournament.

"I don't know why but it's three times I've lost against him before. I didn't have my best game and that's surprising," he said.

"Maybe his tennis is too fast for me. He had very good control from the baseline."

The Russian denied he was getting ahead of himself and contemplating a place in the final, however.

"I was not thinking about the semi-final or final," he insisted. "Okay, it was not Nadal or (Novak) Djokovic I was playing, but Soderling played well."

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