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Baghdatis To Face Rochus In Stockholm Final; Soderling Injured

Stockholm, Sweden

Olivier Rochus© AFP/Getty ImagesBelgian Olivier Rochus, who improved to 13-16 season record, will attempt to capture his third ATP World Tour title on Sunday.

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis will meet Olivier Rochus of Belgium in the If Stockholm Open final on Saturday.  It will be the pair’s first meeting since May 2006 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, which Baghdatis won 7-5, 6-4.  Both players will be appearing in their seventh tour-level singles final.

Baghdatis, 24, won his last ATP World Tour title at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors (d. Ljubicic) on 4 February 2007.  This week he is coming off his third Challenger title of the season last Sunday in Tashkent where he beat local favourite Denis Istomin in three sets. 
 
"When you are out for eight months because of injury, it's not easy to win matches," said Baghdatis, who reached a career-high No. 8 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on 21 August 2006.

"For sure I had my doubts about being able to come back.  I'm really hungry to do well again now.  I am going to do everything I can to achieve my dreams - to win Grand Slams and get back into the Top 5 or Top 10.
 
"I've had to accept being ranked down at 150 and I've gone to play some challengers, to try and win some matches and get the confidence back up again.  Tashkent last week was very hard.  But it's good to go back to where it all began and remember how tough the challenger tournaments are.
 
"I'm working a lot more on my physique now, trying to be fit every week so that I can enjoy my tennis.  After this week I'll go home for a week and then I'll be going to South Korea to play some more challengers."

Rochus withstood 17 aces from the racquet of Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci for a 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 victory in two hours and 24 minutes on Saturday.  Rochus won 73 per cent of service points and saved two of six break points to improve to a 13-6 match record on the year.

"In the third set, I was leading 4-0 and he came back with 2 breaks," said Rochus.  "He was taking more risks and it was all working for him.  But then he made a few errors and I played an incredible last game to finish strong.  It was a very good match, but tough physically. I couldn't believe I had won at the end."

Bellucci, 21, captured his first ATP World Tour title at the Allianz Suisse Open Gstaad in August (d. K. Beck).  He became the first Brazilian to win an ATP World Tour title since Ricardo Mello at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships on 19 September 2004. He also finished runner-up at the Brasil Open in Costa do Sauipe (l. to Robredo) in February.  He dropped to a 21-18 season record.
 
"Rochus is playing great," admitted Baghdatis.  "He's a good friend of mine and we've warmed up together every day this week.  It would be nice to play a friend in the final."

Baghdatis progressed to his first final since 17 June 2007 at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle (l. to Berdych) without hitting a ball on Saturday.  His semi-final opponent, top seed Robin Soderling of Sweden, withdrew prior to the pair’s sixth meeting with a right elbow injury.

This week Soderling was contesting his first ATP World Tour tournament as a member of the Top 10 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings.  He is battling to clinch one of two remaining spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November.  The 25 year old is next scheduled to compete at the Valencia Open 500.

On The Bubble: Battle For London Finals

"I'm sorry for Robin first of all," said Baghdatis.  "It's not easy to retire, especially when you're playing at home.  But obviously I'm happy to get through to the final.

"I need some points and my ranking is not so good right now.  I knew it would not have been an easy match for me today.  He was the favourite, playing with the home support and indoors.  So I'm just happy to get through."

Rochus, who is the No. 2-ranked Belgian (behind brother Christophe Rochus) at No. 87 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, confessed, "It's been a tough year.  This time last year I was getting shoulder surgery and my ranking was down at 120.  To finish near the Top 50 is incredible for me.  I've come back really well, playing a lot of challengers.  To come back from so far down is very pleasing and I hope I can continue playing like this next year.
 
"It's been a week I'll never forget.  Stockholm seems to bring me luck.  I've had some great results in the past and now this is even better.  I never expected to get to the final this week."

 

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