Tennis

Soderling sends Federer packing

Roger Federer shakes hands with Robin Soderling after being defeated in the quarterfinal of the French Open tennis tournament in Paris on Tuesday. Photo: AP

Roger Federer shakes hands with Robin Soderling after being defeated in the quarterfinal of the French Open tennis tournament in Paris on Tuesday. Photo: AP  

Robin Soderling gatecrashed Roland Garros for the second successive year on Tuesday as the free-swinging Swede sent defending champion and 16-time Grand Slam title winner Roger Federer to a stunning defeat.

Twelve months on from condemning four-time champion Rafael Nadal to his first loss in Paris, Soderling once again unleashed his forehand and service hammer to beat the world No. 1 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

It was Federer's earliest Grand Slam defeat in six years and Soderling's first triumph over the Swiss having lost 12 times in 12 meetings, including the final here last year.

Soderling's win, achieved on a gloomy, wet afternoon in Paris, brought to an end Federer's record run of 23 successive Grand Slam semifinal appearances stretching back to his third round defeat to Gustavo Kuerten here in 2004.

It set up a semifinal clash against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic who eased past Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

“I love playing on this court. I have been here for two weeks and have been playing better and better with each match,” said the Swede.

“Today I played really well. It can't get much better than this to beat the world number one on this court.

Federer swept throught the first set with a crucial break in the eighth game, having surrendered just two points on his own serve.

But the Swede suddenly cranked up his response in the second, with regular repeat showings of the forehand devastation which stunned Nadal last year. He broke to lead 2-0, shrugged off a double fault on a second set point before levelling the tie when Federer dumped a forehand into the net.

It was only the third set the Swede had taken off the world number one in 32 contested.

Soderling fought off a set point in the 10 game of the third set which was being played under heavy skies and incessant drizzle which became increasingly heavy.

Not surprisingly, play was suspended with Federer 30-15 ahead in the 11th game.

On the resumption, 75 minutes later, Soderling broke to lead 6-5 after a Federer double fault opened the door.

The 25-year-old Swede thought the set was his when a Federer forehand looked long, but the point was ordered to be replayed.

It didn't matter, however, as an 11th ace then thundered past the Swiss to give Soderling a two sets to one lead on the back of three times as many winners as the champion.

Federer broke to lead 2-1 in the fourth set, but Soderling returned the favour in the next game Federer then had to fight off three break points in the seventh game but capitulated in the ninth to fall 5-4 down after a wild backhand sailed long and out.

Soderling then secured his famous win after 2hr 30min when Federer went long with a weary return. Meanwhile, Elena Dementieva outlasted Russian compatriot Nadia Petrova 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 to reach the semifinals for the second time.

The fifth seed, who was the losing finalist here in 2004, will play Italian 17th seed Francesca Schiavone for a place in Saturday's final after the Italian beat third seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-3.

Dementieva came out on top in a shambles of a match that was strewn with errors and mishits as both players struggled with leg injuries picked up earlier in the tournament.

The match lasted six minutes over two hours, but at least 30 minutes of this were down to medical timeouts and delays to decide whether or not to send the players off due to the light rain that was falling.

Petrova, who defeated Venus Williams in straight sets in the previous round, took the first set 6-2, but that was mainly due to the abysmal form of Dementieva, who showed all her old inconsistency on serve and failed to produce her usual rock steady groundstrokes.

Earlier in the day, Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy, the third-seeds and defending champions, advanced to the men's doubles semifinals with a 6-1, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over the eight-seeded Mariuz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski.

They will be firm favourites to make the final for the second year running when they play the 10th seeded duo of Julian Knowle and Andy Ram, who bounced back strongly against Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares in winning 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-0.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 7:11:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/Soderling-sends-Federer-packing/article16240300.ece

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