Soderling closes in on Rotterdam repeat

Last Updated: Feb 12, 2011, 08:55 AM IST

Rotterdam: Sweden`s Robin Soderling took a step closer to a title repeat at the ATP Rotterdam Open as he won a replay of last year`s final over Mikhail Youzhny.

The sixth-seeded Russian, who lifted the trophy in 2007 but lost to Soderling in the 2010 title match, went down 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) in the quarter-finals.

Soderling, the two-time Roland Garros finalist, will next face Serbia`s Viktor Troicki who defeated Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-5, 6-3.

"I`ve had to fight for all of my matches this week," said Soderling.

"I don`t know how I did it, the margins were so small. Against Mischa you have to fight, I felt strong in the important moments."

Youzhny saved a match point in the 12th game of the second set before Soderling closed out victory in the tiebreaker.

"The second set could have gone either way," said the Swede. "I had to play well today and I did."

Ivan Ljubicic needed 18 aces and two tiebreaks to post a win over Marcos Baghdatis advancing 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4) against the Cypriot.

Ljubicic, who played the 2005 final against Roger Federer at the Ahoy stadium, renewed his long-ago promise to buy every fan in the stands a drink should he reach another Dutch title match and claim the victory.

"It`s a long way but I`m sticking to my promise," said the 15th-ranked Croatian, owner of ten career titles and loser in four of five meetings with Baghdatis.

"But the stadium has 5,000 more seats than it did back then," he joked in reference to a 2010 overhaul which added around 1,500 places in the hall.

Ljubicic is unworried by the extra rest time enjoyed by semi-final opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who advanced without stepping onto court when fourth-seeded opponent Tomas Berdych retired before their match with influenza.

"It`s early in the afternoon," said Ljubicic, seeded seventh. "I`ll have plenty of time to rest. I know we will both go for our shots, it should be a great match."

The Croatian won the first set against Baghdatis after overcoming a few early errors and profiting from miscues from his opponent.

"It was a strange match, I knew I had to take a lot of risks. I didn`t start great but he gave me two double-faults in the third game," said Ljubicic.

"In the second-set tiebreak I missed some shots that I should not have. It was a great win for me after losing four times before to him, it was nice to show my best tennis."

The seventh seed improved to 17-8 in Rotterdam, where he played finals in 2005 and 2007.

"I`m relaxed these days, but I still want to win matches," said the 31-year-old, father of one.

"Things changed a lot for me in 2008, when I had a big injury and we had our son. I felt the best tennis was behind me, so I relaxed and only lived like a tennis player 23 hours a day instead of 24."

Bureau Report