Soderling stays on track for ATP Brisbane final
Brisbane: Sweden’s Robin Soderling remained on course for a blockbuster final against Andy Roddick after easing past qualifier Matthew Ebden in the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International.
The Swedish top seed on Friday raised his game when it mattered against his gallant, but outclassed Australian opponent, winning 6-3, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals.
The 26-year-old Swede, runner-up at the French Open for the past two years, controlled the tie from the outset, breaking Ebden once in the first set and twice in the second.
He served beautifully throughout, making 71 per cent of his first serves and giving Ebden no opportunities to break back.
Soderling was also able to control most of the rallies, with the weight of his groundstrokes forcing errors from the 23-year-old Australian.
“I’ve been serving really, really well all week -- I haven’t been broken yet,” he said.
“Today I managed to serve well when it mattered. There were a couple of love-30 opportunities when I served really well, so I’m very happy about that.”
Roddick was equally impressive during his quarter-final against Marcos Baghdatis on Thursday, and organisers will be hoping the top two drawcards reach the final of a tournament that has lost its top three women’s seeds.
But Soderling will first have to get past former champion and 2010 runner-up Radek Stepanek, who showed why he is considered one of the most dangerous “floaters” in the draw as he beat seventh-seeded German Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-3.
The abrasive Czech won the Brisbane International in 2009 when he beat Fernando Verdasco in the decider, and pushed Roddick all the way in the 2010 final.
He now has 12 wins in 13 matches on the hard courts of the Queensland Tennis Centre and it would be no surprise if he makes it 13 wins on Saturday.
Stepanek, 32, had Mayer’s measure throughout the match, opening up a 5-1 lead in the first set and holding off a mini-fightback from the German, then breaking Mayer once in the second for a comfortable win.
“You know everything suits me here,” Stepanek said of his success in Brisbane.
“Since the first tournament here in 2009 I played very well here and had a win, and made the final in 2010 so in the back of my mind I always have confidence that everything here suits me, both on the court and off the court.”
He acknowledged he would have to step up a gear against Soderling, a player he beat in the quarter-finals in 2009 but one who has improved greatly over the intervening two years.
“To play Robin is always tough. We’ve had some great battles over the years and I don’t expect anything else and I’m looking forward to it,” Stepanek said.