Davydenko dents Soderling’s record to reach semis
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:51
A solitary break was all Nikolay Davydenko could manage against the towering serve of Robin Soderling, but it was enough to seal a 67-6(4) 4-6 6-3 victory that clinched the second Group B semi-final spot behind the Swede, eliminating Novak Djokovic in the process.
With the qualification sums a little simpler in the second of the round robin climaxes, the Russian entered the match knowing anything other than a victory would see Novak Djokovic progress, the Serb having posted a 7-6 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal earlier in the day.
Robin Soderling had his own incentives to play too. Win or lose, if he could win a set he would avoid a thirteenth career showdown with world No.1 and top qualifier from Group A Roger Federer. The Swiss has a 12-0 record against Soderling, beating him four times already this season.
Following the downbeat showing from Djokovic and Nadal in the afternoon session, Davydenko and Soderling produced some spellbinding tennis from the off, trading blows from the baseline, firing winners and mixing up their games with forays to the net that neither man is famed for.
The Russian looked to have the edge in the rallies, but could do little with Soderling’s huge serves that caused the Swede any concern. After no break points in the first set, Davydenko recovered from a minibreak down in the tiebreak when Soderling twice went long mid-rally, the Russian sealing the set with a smash.
The second set followed a similar pattern until game nine, when a stunning backhand found the corner to set Soderling on his way to 0-40. Davydenko hooked a backhand wide, and the Swede served out for that all-important set.
Now destined to top Group B, there were question marks about how hard Soderling would push himself. But the world No.9, playing in place of the injured Andy Roddick, continued to unleash booming serves and grounstrokes, aiming to end points early but still battling for a win.
But in game six it was the Swede’s turn to slip 0-40 behind as Davydenko enjoyed a purple patch of unplayable tennis, sealing the crucial break when Soderling went long.
Nerves had let Rafael Nadal back into the second set of their match two days previously, but Davydenko was not to be denied this time, wobbling only on his first match point when he threw in a double fault.
Soderling battled his way to the net on Davydenko’s second match point, but got a high, short forehand horribly wrong – the miss of the tournament so far – to hand the Russian victory and a showdown with Roger Federer.
Soderling will face Juan Martin del Potro in the second of the two semi-finals tomorrow.