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Federer to fight it out with Soderling

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BELTING IT: Robin Soderling saw Fernando Gonzalez fight back to even terms — and even go up a break in the decider — from two sets down, but stepped it up in time to win the battle of hard-hitters.
BELTING IT: Robin Soderling saw Fernando Gonzalez fight back to even terms — and even go up a break in the decider — from two sets down, but stepped it up in time to win the battle of hard-hitters.

Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual win women’s doubles title

PARIS: Roger Federer will get another chance to complete his career Grand Slam at this year’s French Open.

The 13-time major champion advanced to the final at Roland Garros by rallying to beat Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 3-6, 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Friday. He will face Robin Soderling of Sweden in Sunday’s final.

Federer struggled to land his shots early in the match, while del Potro found it hard to miss. But things changed in the fourth set when Federer broke to take a 3-1 lead and won each of the next three games to even the score.

In the fifth set, Federer broke del Potro twice as the crowd cheered every point he made.

Earlier, Soderling extended his improbable run to the final by beating Fernando Gonzalez 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in a seesaw match.

Soderling let a big lead slip away when he lost his serve in the final game of the third and fourth sets. The 23rd-seeded Swede fell behind 3-love and 4-1 in the final set, but down the stretch came up with the kind of shot-making that helped him upset four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, and he swept the last five games.

“I have very far to go,” said Soderling, the first Swede to reach the final here since Magnus Norman in 2000.

Soderling has never advanced beyond the third round in his previous 21 major tournaments, and he has never won a clay-court title.

The victory over Gonzalez was only Soderling’s fourth in a five-set match.

The semifinal had lots of drama, and a little controversy. Gonzalez challenged a call late in the fourth set, contending a shot by Soderling had landed wide, and when the umpire denied his appeal, Gonzalez sat on the disputed mark in the clay to smooth it out. Gonzalez won the game anyway but played the rest of the match with dirt caked on his shorts.

The quality of play was high throughout. Soderling had 74 winners, including 16 aces, and Gonzalez totalled 59 winners, including 22 aces.

Spanish delight

In the women’s doubles final on Friday, Spanish pair of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, the third seeds, trounced the 12th seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1.

On Thursday, Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan of the United States beat Vania King of the United States and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 5-7, 7-6 (5), 10-7 to win the mixed doubles championship.

For Huber, it’s her first mixed doubles Grand Slam title. She has won four women’s doubles major championships.

Renewing a rivalry

The all-Russian women’s final Saturday will renew a rivalry dating back a decade, and Svetlana Kuznetsova hopes to fare better than the first time she faced Dinara Safina.

They were juniors then — Kuznetsova from St. Petersburg, Safina from Moscow, both with athletic bloodlines.

“I was like 12 or 13, and Dinara was an unbelievable girl,” Kuznetsova said. “She’s one year younger than me. I had no chance playing against her. I remember I lose to her 6-1, 6-love or something.” In Safina’s 21 matches as the top-ranked player, she has lost only once — to Kuznetsova. — AP

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