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Federer-Soderling Rematch At French Open

Roger Federer's goal in the quarterfinals of the French Open will be to keep Robin Soderling moving.The tactic has worked in the past. Federer takes a 12-0 record against Soderling into their match Tuesday, and
PTI May 31, 2010 17:04 IST
PTI

Roger Federer's goal in the quarterfinals of the French Open will be to keep Robin Soderling moving.The tactic has worked in the past. Federer takes a 12-0 record against Soderling into their match Tuesday, and that includes victories at three Grand Slam events last year.

Federer won when they met in last year's final at Roland Garros, and also beat Soderling in the fourth round at Wimbledon and in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open. "We have experience playing against each other," Federer said. "I've never lost against him, so obviously that's a good record to have."

Soderling upset Rafael Nadal in the fourth round at Roland Garros last year, clearing the path for Federer to complete a career Grand Slam. Federer has a funny way of showing any gratitude _ he has lost only one of the past 10 sets against Soderling. What's the key against the big-swinging Swede?

"Any hard hitter, I want to try to get him to move," Federer said. "If they play aggressive off the return and they serve well, then you play more like a hard-court match, which I don't mind doing. Maybe that's why I'm good on many surfaces, because I can adapt to any sort of an opponent."

Federer adapted Sunday to playing good friend and fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in a Grand Slam for the first time. They teamed to win a gold medal in doubles at the 2008 Olympics but were on opposite sides of the net in the fourth round, and Federer won 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-2. Soderling advanced by beating No. 10 Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Another match Tuesday will feature two first-time Roland Garros quarterfinalists, No. 11 Mikhail Youzhny and No. 15 Tomas Berdych. Youzhny advanced when No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired with a right hip injury trailing 6-2, and Berdych defeated No. 4 Andy Murray 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.

Two women's quarterfinals matchups are set: No. 5 Elena Dementieva will play No. 19 Nadia Petrova, and No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki will face No. 17 Francesca Schiavone.

Petrova advanced by beating No. 2 Venus Williams, 6-4, 6-3. Williams came into the tournament with the best record this year on the women's tour but continued a streak of 14 French Open tournaments without a singles title.

Four-time champion Justine Henin advanced to the fourth round when she rallied in a winner-take-all set, beating Maria Sharapova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. The match had been suspended overnight after two sets. On another chilly, damp, blustery day at Roland Garros, Federer struggled with the wind at times and fell behind Wawrinka 4-2 in the second set.

But the No. 20-seeded Wawrinka couldn't hold the lead and missed an easy volley at 5-all in the tiebreaker. When he lost the set he mangled his racket, and Federer quickly pulled away after that. "I really knew the danger in this match," Federer said. "I was able to hang in there and turn it around in the breaker, but that's the stuff you need to do." That's the stuff Federer usually does, according to Soderling, who is 2-10 in tiebreakers against Federer.

"He's the best player in the world," Soderling said. "But even against him, you will always get a few chances. Then you have to take them, because he won't give you any second opportunities. You really have to play well in the important points, which he does so well. And that's why he's so good."

Soderling has improved at playing big points, and he's climbing in the rankings. He was seeded 23rd at Roland Garros a year ago and is No. 5 now.

He's the first Swede in the top 10 since his coach, Magnus Norman, and Thomas Enqvist in 2000. "I'm winning more matches when I'm not playing my best tennis, which I didn't do so often before. That's the biggest change," Soderling said.

 "You have three or four, maybe five, matches in a year where you feel like you play really, really well. The other 50 matches you still have to win. I think that's the biggest difference between a guy ranked in the top 10 and the guy ranked in the top 30." AP