Superb Soderling sweeps into Paris semis

Robin Soderling is the first Swede to reach the French Open semifinals since his coach Magnus Norman in 2000.
Swede Robin Soderling swept into his first career Grand Slam semifinal with a spectacular 6-1 6-3 6-1 demolition of Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko at the French Open on Tuesday.

The 23rd-seeded Soderling had inflicted a first Roland Garros defeat on four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the previous round and was in equally impressive form as he saw off his Russian rival. Soderling will now face either British world No. 3 Andy Murray or Chile’s 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez for a place in the final. Some doubted whether the 24-year-old could give a repeat performance, but he did just that with another masterclass of mighty groundstrokes to triumph in one hour and 41 minutes. “I’ve played three good claycourt players and I’ve played three very good matches, so my confidence is getting better and better,” he said. “You expect a tougher match in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, but it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggested. “I always knew I could play really, really good tennis when I’m on top of my game. But what I’m happiest about is that I’ve played well for many matches in a row, which was maybe missing a few years ago.” Soderling raced through the first set, breaking his opponent twice to wrap it up in just 23 minutes.

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The second was a much tighter affair with the first six games going with serve before Soderling took control against a player he had beaten in three of their five previous meetings including both times on clay. 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 had also claimed an impressive victory on Sunday, seeing off eighth seed Fernando Verdasco but was completely outplayed in his quarterfinal clash. He hardly got a look-in in the third set and took only one more game in the match leaving Soderling to celebrate becoming the first Swedish French Open semifinalist since his coach Magnus Norman in 2000. Davydenko was understandably disappointed saying: “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,” said a disappointed Davydenko. “Maybe his tennis is too fast for me. He had very good control from the baseline.”