Söderling heads to sizzling India for Aussie Open warm up

Sweden’s Robin Söderling is set to swing his racquet in India for the first time on Tuesday, in preparation for what he hopes will be a long run in the 2010 Australian Open later this month.

Söderling heads to sizzling India for Aussie Open warm up

The lanky Swede, who ended Rafael Nadal’s reign at the French Open in 2009, enhanced his reputation as a giant-killer by beating Roger Federer in the semi-final of an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week.

Söderling, currently ranked eighth in the world, lost to Nadal in the final on Saturday, but said the tournament put him in the right frame of mind for the season ahead.

“Abu Dhabi was the best possible preparation I could have had,” he told reporters ahead of his maiden appearance in India for the 400,000-dollar Chennai Open which started on Monday.

“I played well against some of the best players in the world there and that made me feel good about the season, especially the Australian Open.”

Söderling, who was beaten by Marcos Baghdatis in the second round of last year’s Australian Open, was eyeing a longer stint when the season’s first Grand Slam starts in Melbourne on January 18.

“I don’t know why I have not done well at the Aussie Open, because I actually like Australia a lot,” the French Open finalist said.

“There is no reason really. I enjoy playing on all surfaces and I think I have a good chance of doing well there, like any other player.

“A lot will also depend on the draw because there are some tough players out there.

“But I know if I play well I can go deep into the tournament.”

Söderling, who flew into Chennai on Sunday, said he was excited about playing in India for the first time.

“India is a lot different from where I come from, certainly it’s much hotter here,” the Swede said.

“But I have heard a lot of good things about this tournament and am happy to be here.”

Söderling said he had opted for Chennai over bigger tournaments in Doha and Brisbane that are being played this week because he was looking for a change.

“I have played before in Doha and I have played in Brisbane, so I wanted to do something different,” he said.

“There are a lot of good players here and the competition will be tough. It is also the start of the season, so anything can happen.”

Söderling, the top seed here ahead of defending champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, opens his campaign against American Robby Ginepri on Tuesday.

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Former Spanish king Juan Carlos in exile ‘in Abu Dhabi’

Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain who has gone into exile in the face of corruption allegations, has travelled to Abu Dhabi according to Spanish newspaper ABC, contradicting earlier press reports about his whereabouts.

Former Spanish king Juan Carlos in exile 'in Abu Dhabi'

Other media have singled out Portugal or the Dominican Republic as possible destinations for the former monarch who abdicated in 2014, but his exact location has yet to be pinned down.

The royal palace has refused to reveal where Juan Carlos is living, saying he will announce it himself if necessary.

Pro-monarchy newspaper ABC wrote that the 82-year-old boarded a private jet on Monday from Vigo in northwestern Spain along with one aide and four bodyguards.

Seven hours later, the plane landed at a business airport in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

According to a flight plan ABC said it had seen, the jet was registered as departing from Paris to avoid arousing suspicion.

In fact, it took off from Paris on Sunday before making a stop in Vigo to pick up Juan Carlos. The paper says he is now well shielded from paparazzi photographers in the luxurious Emirates Palace hotel, adding that high temperatures have so far kept him indoors.

But a manager at the hotel denied the former king was there, telling AFP: “We have no VIP guests.” 

Juan Carlos has long had warm relations with the Gulf monarchies, and Spanish press reports say a transfer of $100 million to one of his Swiss bank accounts from late Saudi king Abdullah has come into investigators' sights.

After abdicating over corruption allegations stemming from public statements by a former mistress, Juan Carlos announced Monday that he was quitting Spain so as not to undermine his son King Felipe VI.