Soderling captures first Masters 1000 title in Paris
Originally published on: 15/11/10 09:35
Robin Soderling sent out a message of intent to the rest of the eight-strong field at next week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after defeating home favourite Gael Monfils 6-1 7-6(1) to capture his first Masters 1000 title in Paris.
“It feels great,” grinned Soderling, who has had a great record in the French capital (even if he’s not fared so well in finals) having finished runner-up at Roland Garros for the last two years.
“I don’t have a very good record in finals, and especially here in Paris. I lost two finals at Roland Garros. Of course it’s great to reach the final in a Grand Slam and also in a Masters 1000, but I think a final is that one match you really want to win. I’m really happy that I played well today, and now I’m here winning the title.
“When I won that last point, I just felt so happy and I felt so relieved. I really wanted to win this match so much.”
By virtue of his win, the Swede, who also won in Rotterdam this February, moves above Andy Murray to a career-high world No.4 ranking. It’s bad news for the Brit, who might now end up in a round-robin group that contains two of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer when the draw is made on Friday.
The final turned out to be test of who still had the legs – both players having come through gruelling semi-finals to challenge for the title. Soderling saved three match points to pull through 6-7(0) 7-5 7-6(6) against Michael Llodra, while Monfils produced a magnificent display to fend off world No.2 Federer 7-6(7) 6-7(1) 7-6(4).
Monfils looked to be struggling from the after effects, winning just six points as the Swede took the opening set at a canter, and though the Frenchman began to match the Swede in the second, Soderling found the edge in the tiebreak to win the title.
“I was extremely nervous before this match,” admitted Soderling, who was playing in his seventh career final. “I didn’t sleep much at all last night. I really wanted to do well today, and I’m really happy the way I started the match. I came out playing really well.”
“Then after the first set it was a little bit easier for me, even though he started to play a little bit better. I was a bit more relaxed and I was going for my shots. At the end I think I played a really good tiebreak. I’m really happy that I played my best tennis when it really matters.”
Soderling will now march on to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, where he’ll be an in-form favourite for the overall victory at the season ending championships, where he fell in the round robin stages on his tournament debut last year.
Meanwhile, doubles pairing Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi laid down their credentials to do some damage in London after securing their first title together since 2004 following a 7-5 7-5 victory over the experienced pairing of Mark Knowles and Andy Ram in Paris.