Paris: Robin Soderling blasted his way past
Tomas Berdych into the French Open final on Friday.
The towering Swedish player won a bruising encounter 6-3,
3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 and on Sunday he will go up against either
four-times former winner Rafael Nadal of Spain or Austrian
surprise packet Jurgen Melzer for the title.
The match went the full distance with Soderling grabbing
the vital break of serve he needed in the seventh game of the
deciding set before winning the last two games to make sure.
It will be the second straight year that Soderling has
contested the championship match at Roland Garros, losing in
the final to Roger Federer last year after handing Nadal his
first ever defeat in Paris.
Two of the tallest men and biggest hitters in tennis,
Soderling and Berdych had met eight times previously with the
Swede leading the series 5-3. But Berdych won their most
recent encounter 6-2, 6-2 en route to the Miami Masters final
As expected, the final four showdown quickly developed
into a deadly exchange of big serves and rasping groundstrokes
down both flanks on a sun-bathed Philippe Chatrier
Berdych was the first to flinch in the sixth game when he
double-faulted on break point allowing Soderling to take a 4-2
lead. The Swede comfortably served out to take the set, the
first Berdych had lost in the tournament.
It was more of the same in the second set, but this time
it was Soderling who let his concentration slip in the fourth
game with a couple of loose shots opening the door for the
Czech to break serve for the first time.
Berdych held firm in his next three service games to
level the set scores at one apiece.
The match was finely poised with the oncourt temperature
soaring and it was Berdych who kept the momentum going into
the third set, grabbing his second break of serve when
Soderling double-faulted at 1-1.
Soderling had an immediate chance to break back in the
next game but was denied by a Berdych service winner, but two
games later it was Berdych`s turn to double fault on break
The fifth seed then moved ahead 5-4, but it was Berdych
who finished the set stronger rattling off three games in a
row as Soderling began to look the more tired of two big men.
The Swede struggled to hold his serve at the start of the
fourth set while Berdych was holding with ease, but it was the
Czech who wilted first dropping his serve in the sixth game to
leave Soderling 4-2 up.
That pumped up last year`s losing finalist and he
comfortably served out twice to force a deciding set.