Ballgirl almost puts Soderling off victory stride

London: Robin Soderling`s passage into his first Wimbledon quarter-final was anything but smooth and was almost upset by a sick ball girl.

With the Swede serving for the match at 40-15, play was halted when a ball girl, appearing to suffer the effects of the heat, was led off court.

Soderling failed to convert two match points before Spaniard David Ferrer hit a return long on the third to give the sixth seed a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 victory on tiny Court 12.

"All of a sudden they stopped play, and then I understood she didn`t feel well. Must be tough for them to stay out there for so many hours," the quietly spoken Soderling told a news conference.

"I hope she`s fine. It was just pretty bad timing, me serving for the match at match point. It could have happened a little bit earlier. But that`s how it is. I hope she`s fine now," he added.

Before the match, Soderling had spent the least amount of time on court of those still in the men`s draw with a total of 4 hours 51 minutes and it did not look as though he would be hanging around for very long when he won the first set 6-2 and was 3-1 up in the second.

But in see-saw match, where both players at times took their frustrations out on their rackets, Soderling stamping his in half, it took the Swede almost as long again just to see off Ferrer in three hours three minutes.

"I think I started off the match really well and then I had some really good chances in the second set as well," the lanky Soderling said.

"So with a little bit of luck and if I could`ve played a little bit better, I think I could have taken it in straight sets.”

"At the end of the second and the third, he returned really good. It was a tough match, so I`m a little bit lucky to have gone through this one."

Asked if the intimate surroundings of Court 12, where the crowd can almost touch the players and are on occasion required to dive out of the way of a wild ball was a distraction, the 25-year-old said: "Of course it`s a bit different compared to playing on the Centre Court and Court One.

"But, that`s how it is. I think all courts here are good."

Next up for Soderling, the only Swedish player in the draw, is world number one Rafael Nadal who beat him in the final of the French Open.

"It`s a quarter-finals in a grand slam. It`s gonna be tough for sure. But, I think it`s definitely easier to play him on any other surface than clay," he said.

Bureau Report

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