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Soderling Leads Swedes to Fourth Title

Dusseldorf, Germany

2008 Winners, SwedenBongarts/Getty Images2008 Winners, Sweden

Sweden clinched its fourth title at the ARAG ATP World Team Championship, defeating Russia 2-1 on Saturday at the Rochusclub in Düsseldorf as Robin Soderling became just the third player in the 31-year tournament history to win all four singles and four doubles matches during the same week.

Sweden joins Germany, Spain and the United States as title leaders at the ARAG ATP World Team Championship. Sweden also titled in 1988 (d. USA 2-1), 1991 (d. Yugoslavia 2-1) and 1995 (d. Croatia 2-1), and finished as runner-up in 1986 (l. to France) and 1999 (l. to Australia).

Robert Lindstedt and Soderling clinched the Championship tie for Sweden, coming back from down a set and a break in the decisive doubles match to defeat Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny, 4-6, 7-6(5), 11-9. They saved one Championship point at 8-9 in the Match Tie-break with a backhand winner by Lindstedt, and then converted on their first Championship point when Tursunov’s return sailed long.

"It’s great, absolutely great," said Lindstedt. "I mean I’m at a loss for words. I had a smash at 7:6 that I should have bounced, but I hit in on the fly and I framed it. I had a huge huge brain cramp I guess. Then to come back after that big mistake, match point down and to win it again, it’s an unbelievable way to finish it, but a great effort from all of us the whole week."

Soderling gave Sweden the early lead in the first singles match by defeating World No. 16 Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-1 in 63 minutes. He went 4 for 4 on his break point chances, first breaking Youzhny to go up 4-2 in the first set then securing the victory by winning the final six games.

Thomas Johansson picked up where his compatriot left off, converting on his first two break point chances of the reverse singles match against Igor Andreev to roll out to a 4-0 lead. The Russian recovered a break of serve in the sixth game, but Johansson broke right back and then closed out the set. Andreev broke the Swede to go up 3-1 in the second set and again in the first game of the third set en route to the 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win, leveling the tie at 1-all.

Soderling, who made his tournament debut last year, is the third player behind American John McEnroe in 1984 and Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in 2003 to play and win all singles and doubles matches in the same year. He defeated Argentine Guillermo Canas, Czech Tomas Berdych and American James Blake in Round Robin play.

In doubles, Soderling and Lindstedt collected the bonus prize money of €11,000 each for winning the most doubles matches this week, plus a shared €10,000 for winning the final doubles match.

"It’s a great week to peak," said Soderling. "It gives me a lot of confidence for next week in Paris. Hopefully I can continue to play well and hopefully I can win a couple of matches in Paris."

Sweden was the eighth-seeded team this week in its 27th event appearance, but emerged as the only undefeated team in Round Robin play with victories over defending champion Argentina (2-1), the Czech Republic (3-0) and the United States (3-0) in the Red Group.

Russia was making its 11th appearance at the ARAG ATP World Team Championship, but its first since the 2002 final (l. to Argentina). Russia also finished as runner-up in 2000 (l. to Slovakia) and 2001 (l. to Australia).

Youzhny said: "It was a very close match. We are upset for having lost in the final once again. But I'm sure we will back maybe next year to finally win the ARAG World Team Cup. The crowd was great all week long and we just have to thank the organizers to put such a nice event for the players."

Russia finished atop the Blue Group standings with wins over Italy (2-1) and Germany (3-0) in Blue Group action, and received help as Italy came back to defeat Spain on Friday.
 

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