Federer downs Soderling to book semi-final spot
Originally published on: 25/11/10 16:21
Roger Federer booked his spot in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with a 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Robin Soderling, which puts the Swede out of the tournament regardless of the result of Andy Murray’s final Group B match against David Ferrer.
It was a businesslike performance punctuated with dazzling tennis from Federer, with the four-time champion at these season finales winning the group without dropping a set, but Soderling will be left ruing the memory of his opponent’s second set point in the tiebreak.
After trading breaks early on in the match, Soderling had managed to stay in touch with Federer in a tight set. Both men finished with 39 points apiece, hit as many winners and unforced errors and even had seven aces to each of their names.
But the Swede’s fatal decision to leave a floating backhand dug up on the run by Federer that landed well inside the baseline gave Federer the single set he needed to seal his own passage to the semi-finals.
Defeat Soderling is not yet mathematically out of the running, but single set would have boosted his chances. He started the second set strongly, bringing up two break points in the first game and only missing out on the second when Federer correctly challenged a blistering forehand drive that was millimetres wide.
Federer responded with some of his finest tennis of the week, a string of driven backhand winners drawing appreciative gasps and applause from the crowd. Soderling survived two early break points but could not handle another blistering backhand pass at 4-3, dropping his serve as his lunging volley found the bottom of the net before Federer served out the match.
I purposely didn’t want to know the calculations before today’s match, whereas I was in the loop very clearly what I kind of needed to do last year, which I think played on my mind a little bit,” said Federer, bidding to equal Pete Sampras’ record of five World Tour Finals titles in London.
“I just wanted to come out and try to play as good a match as I can. Losing is never a solution to trying to win a tournament. That’s why I’m happy that all three matches, straight sets, not wasted any energy.”
“I took the match to Robin,” “He’s a big hitter of the ball, but I should have won the [first] set earlier.”
While a straight-sets win for David Ferrer over Andy Murray this evening will leave the Spaniard, Soderling and Murray tied on a single win and sets won and lost, both Ferrer and Murray are guaranteed to finish with a better games won-to-lost ratio that the Swede.
“Against a player like Roger, you need to have a little bit of luck to win – and I definitely didn’t have the luck on my side today,” said Soderling. “I’m not saying I would have won anyway. But those two points were really big and I needed both of them.”
Ferrer can still knock Murray out if he can win in straight sets and prevent Murray from winning six games, or seven games should either set go beyond the ten-game mark.