Injured Soderling exits, Nadal breezes through

Indian Wells: Swede Robin Soderling said he was stupid for playing with an injury on Monday after becoming the highest-seeded casualty at the Indian Wells ATP tournament where Rafa Nadal cruised into the fourth round.

Soderling, the fourth seed and hottest player on the ATP Tour this year with three titles to his name, was hampered by his left foot before being eliminated 7-6, 6-4 by German Philipp Kohlschreiber.

"I hurt my foot last week in Davis Cup and since then it`s been pretty bad," a subdued Soderling told reporters after suffering just his second loss in 21 matches this year. "Today it was not very good."

"I lost the match when I decided to go on court because I shouldn`t have done that. It was pretty stupid to play."

The premature departure of Soderling followed the early exits by fifth seed Andy Murray of Britain, sixth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer and defending champion Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia in the second round on Saturday.

World number one Nadal, however, had little trouble against American qualifier Ryan Sweeting on the showpiece centre court, moving effortlessly to a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

"Always in this tournament I have fantastic feelings," the Spanish left-hander said courtside. "Playing on this hard court, I`ve had some of the better results in my career."

Nadal, champion here in 2007 and 2009, will next meet either Belgium`s Xavier Malisse or Indian qualifier Somdev Devvarman.

Soderling squandered five set points before losing the opening set tiebreaker 10-8 and he was then broken by Kohlschreiber in the decisive 10th game of the second set.

The German, seeded 32nd, has always proven a handful for the Swede, who has now lost four of their five meetings.

Although Soderling summoned his trainer after the first set, he did not consider withdrawing from the match at that point.

"I wanted to keep on playing, you know," he said. "I didn`t withdraw from many matches in my career."

"It was tough, but I felt that even though I had some problems, I still had a few set points in the first set."

Runner-up at the French Open for the last two years, Soderling planned to have his foot X-rayed before making any decision on whether to play in Miami next week.

He initially suffered the injury late on in his 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Russia`s Igor Andreev in a Davis Cup world group first round tie in Boras, Sweden, on March 5.

Kohlschreiber, who held one match point before being beaten by Soderling in three tight sets in Rotterdam last month, was delighted to beat the Swede for a fourth time.

"I knew he was sick in the beginning of the tournament, that he had flu and he pulled out of the doubles," the 27-year-old German said.

"What should I say? I`m happy about my victory. Yeah, he was on court; he played. Maybe he didn`t have his best day but still, I`m lucky to be through, I think."

In other third round matches, former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina beat 20th-seeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6, 6-3 and Spaniard Tommy Robredo crushed American qualifier Donald Young 6-0, 6-4.

Bureau Report

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