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Soderling, Baghdatis Impress; Rochus Fights For Win

Stockholm, Sweden

Robin Soderling© Getty ImagesRobin Soderling eases into the quarter-finals with a straight-sets win.

Robin Soderling continued to press his claim for a Barclays ATP World Tour Finals berth - and his second ATP World Tour title in his home country - as he dismissed Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-3 Thursday to reach the quarter-finals of the If Stockholm Open, an ATP World Tour 250 indoor hard-court tennis tournament.

The top seed and new World No. 10 briefly fell a service break behind in the second set, having clinched the opener with two breaks of serve, but hit back to win the final five games of the match and clinch victory in 63 minutes.

Soderling is currently ninth in the year-to-date South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings and could add to his points tally by reaching the final or better in Stockholm this week. A runner-up finish would earn the Tibro native 35 points, while his first If Stockholm Open trophy would gift him 135 points – taking him to within 65 points of eighth-placed Fernando Verdasco.

The 25 year old, who is coached by former World No. 2 Magnus Norman, won his first title on home soil at the Catella Swedish Open (d. Monaco) in July and reached his first major final at Roland Garros (d. Nadal, l. to Federer). He has compiled a 44-18 mark in his career-best campaign, which has seen him become the 17th Swede in ATP history (since 1973) to rank among the Top 10 players in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.

Former World No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis continued his good run with a sweeping 6-2, 6-2 victory over American Robert Kendrick. The Cypriot, who won an ATP Challenger Tour title in Tashkent last week before knocking out third seed Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round Wednesday, capitalised on all five break points he created to seal victory after just 53 minutes.

The 24-year-old Baghdatis will contest his third ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season after improving to a 21-16 mark. Three ATP Challenger Tour titles in the past three months have seen the Limassol native jump 85 places in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings since July to his current position of No. 66. 

"I'm feeling fit, which is the most important thing," said Baghdatis, who was hindered by injuries throughout much of 2008. "When you wake up in the morning and you don't feel any pain, it's easier to play good tennis. I'm having a good run now and enjoying myself on the court. I'm hungry to do well and I want to come back stronger than before."

Next up for Baghdatis, who will look to reach his first ATP World Tour semi-final since February 2008 at the Open 13 in Marseille (l. to Ancic), is Frenchman Arnaud Clement, who held his nerve to beat fellow qualifier Michael Berrer 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-1. Coming into Stockholm, Clement, who, like Baghdatis, is a former Australian Open finalist, had not won a tour-level match since reaching the second round at Roland Garros (l. C. Rochus).

Belgian Olivier Rochus fought from a set down to upset eighth seed Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 and secure his quarter-final spot. Rochus extended his career lead over Lopez to 3-1 as he withstood 15 aces from the Spaniard to convert all three break points he created in the one-hour and 55-minute match. Lopez was coming off a season-best semi-final effort at the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 Presented by Rolex (ret. vs. Nadal).

World No. 87 Rochus is through to his third ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season, and his fourth in Stockholm. The 28 year old, who reached the semi-finals on grass at the Gerry Weber Open (l. to Djokovic) and the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships (l. to Ram), improved to an 11-6 mark on the season.

Rochus will look to reach the semi-finals in Stockholm for the second time (l. to Blake in 2005) when he takes on Jarkko Nieminen after the Finn received a walkover past second seed Tommy Haas, who is suffering from flu.

The No. 120-ranked Nieminen is through to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since reaching the final at the Medibank International (l. to Nalbandian) in Sydney at the start of the season. The 28 year old has excelled in previous visits to Stockholm, finishing runner-up in 2001 (l. to Schalken) and ’06 (l. to Blake) and reaching the semi-finals last year (l. to Nalbandian).

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