Söderling powers into French Open 4th round

Söderling, the fifth seed, won through 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 to set up a fourth round clash with home favourite Gilles Simon.

Söderling powers into French Open 4th round

Söderling was undaunted at the prospect of playing in front of a 15,000-strong partisan crowd.

“It’s quite nice having everybody against you,” he told newspaper Aftonbladet.

Simon became the third Frenchman through to the last 16 with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over the last remaining American, Mardy Fish.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic stayed on course for a second Grand Slam final showdown with both notching up wins in Saturday’s third round action.

But if the top two seeds enjoyed a worry-free afternoon, the same could not be said for fourth seed Andy Murray.

The 24-year-old Scot had been coasting along at 6-2, 2-1 and deuce on German Michael Berrer’s serve when he badly jarred his right ankle trying to run down a drop shot.

Murray won the point, but he hopped about in agony and then collapsed onto his back in the red dirt of the Suzanne Lenglen showcourt.

After taking painkillers and having the ankle strapped at a medical time-out, Murray resumed to clinch the break and lead 3-1.

But clearly still in some discomfort, he then dropped serve for the first time in the match and screamed out his frustrations at his coaching staff in the stands.

Limping between rallies and looking distraught, Murray somehow dug in to win the set 6-3 and another two breaks in his favour gave him the perfect 4-0 start to the third set.

Murray duly wrapped up a third consecutive straight sets win, but there will be serious doubts about his fitness ahead of his fourth tie against Serbian Davis Cup hero Viktor Troicki on Monday.

A scan later Saturday or on Sunday will be crucial in his decision over whether or not to pull out.

“We will have to wait and see what happens. I just don’t know if I will be able to play my next match. I don’t know if I will be 100 percent fit,” said Murray.

The 15th seeded Troicki saw off Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam event for the first time despite being laid low with food poisoning.

Second seed Djokovic made it 40 straight wins this year by finishing off giant Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a third round tie held over from late Friday when the two men had parted at one set all.

On the resumption, Djokovic once again showed all the composure and killer instinct that have been a feature of his stunning unbeaten run since January and he comfortably dealt with some typically beefy hitting from the 2009 US Open champion.

The Serb will next play back-to-form Frenchman Richard Gasquet for a place in the quarter-finals in a tie that is sure to fire up the partisan Paris crowd on Sunday.

“Richard is playing some of the best tennis of his life,” Djokovic said of his next opponent.

“He has a lot of confidence and self-belief and he will have the crowd behind him.

“It seems like he is striking the ball better than ever – more consistent mentally. It’s an open match.”

Djokovic will match John McEnroe’s 42-match winning streak set from the start of 1984 should he reach the semi-finals here.

He is also aiming to become the first player since Jim Courier in 1992 to win the Australian and French Open titles in the same year, taking him halfway to the fabled Grand Slam of tennis.

Top seed and defending champion Nadal made it through to the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 win over Croatian qualifier Antonio Veic in a centre-court mismatch.

It was the Spaniard’s 41st win at Roland Garros against just the one defeat since he made his debut in 2005, but such was the paucity of the opposition that the win will answer few questions about his actual form.

His next opponent will be the veteran Croat Ivan Ljubicic who upset 16th seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.

“I think I did a few things much better than the previous days. Happy for that,” said Nadal, who had looked below his best in the first two rounds.

“I have to continue for this way, I think I played a solid match almost all the time. Just the beginning of the second, for moments of the second set, I had a few more mistakes.”

Also through from the top half of the draw on Saturday was Argentinian claycourt veteran Juan Ignacio Chela who saw off Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic in four sets and Colombian qualifier Alejandro Falla who came through, also in four sets, against Poland’s Lukasz Kubot.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?

Roger Federer is talking optimistically about returning to his "highest level" after knee surgery, but does tennis have to start adjusting to a future without the Swiss star?

Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?
Is it the end of the line for Roger? Photo: Martin BUREAU / AFP

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced on Wednesday that he would be sidelined until 2021 after his second operation in a matter of months.

Federer remains upbeat, tweeting: “I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 percent ready to play at my highest level.”

In some ways 2020 is a good season to miss after the coronavirus ravaged the tennis schedule. Writing Federer off in the past has proved dangerous.

He returned from a six-month injury lay-off to claim the Australian Open in 2017, winning his eighth Wimbledon crown later that year.

But he will be 40 in 2021 and is now heading into uncharted territory.

Despite his groaning trophy cabinet, there are two factors that will motivate Federer to keep going — the risk of losing his grip on the men's Grand Slam title record and a missing Olympics singles gold medal.

Rafael Nadal has 19 majors, just one shy of Federer's mark and Djokovic has 17.

Spain's Nadal will be fancied to draw level with Federer at the French Open, rescheduled for September, while few would bet against Djokovic winning in New York weeks earlier.

In April, Federer said he was “devastated” when Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II. Last year he fell agonisingly short at the All England Club, failing to convert two championship points on his own serve against Djokovic.

The Wimbledon grass probably remains his best chance of adding to his Grand Slam collection — he has not won the US Open since 2008 and his only title at Roland Garros came in 2009.

Even though Federer has slipped from the very pinnacle of the game, he is still a major threat to Nadal and Djokovic.

'Golden' ambitions

Last year, the world number four had a 53-10 win-loss record and he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January in his only tournament this year.

Federer, who is still six ATP titles short of Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 109, has one glaring omission from his CV — the Olympic title.

The Swiss won doubles gold in Beijing in 2008 with compatriot Stan Wawrinka but lost in the singles final to Andy Murray in London four years later.

The postponed Tokyo Games will almost certainly be Federer's last opportunity to complete a career “golden” Grand Slam — he will turn 40 on the day of the closing ceremony next year.

Tennis will feel the loss of the elegant Federer keenly when he walks off the court for the last time.

Djokovic and Nadal have been the dominant forces in recent years but the Swiss remains the biggest draw and last month topped Forbes' list of the world's highest-earning athletes.

His last appearance on court was in front of nearly 52,000 fans — touted by organisers as a world record for tennis — at a charity match against Nadal in Cape Town in February.

Federer is nearly always the crowd favourite wherever he plays and has proved a perfect ambassador for the sport since he won his first Grand Slam title in 2003.

He certainly expects to be back and competitive next year.

“I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season,” he tweeted.

The avalanche of support from his adoring fans showed they would miss him too, but they will have to get used to a time when he is gone for good.