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Soderling Dashes Dent's Hopes; Cilic, Davydenko Ousted

New York, U.S.A.

Richard Gasquet© Getty ImagesRichard Gasquet takes out sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets.

ATP World Tour No. 5 Robin Soderling needed just 92 minutes to secure his place in the third round of the US Open, blitzing American Taylor Dent 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday in New York. The Swede had surrendered only two games to Dent when the pair clashed four months ago in the second round at Roland Garros.

In contrast to his laboured five-set victory over Austrian qualifier Andreas Haider-Maurer in the first round, Soderling was back on top form against Dent, striking 32 winners to just 11 unforced errors and firing 14 aces.

"I think I was hitting the ball pretty well. Served well, especially in the two first sets," said Soderling. "I managed to break him first game, which was good. And then after that, I kind of relaxed a little bit and played better. So overall it was a very good match."

The 26-year-old Soderling recorded his best US Open result last year, when he reached the quarter-finals (l. to Federer), and has performed strongly in the majors this year. The Tibro native reached the Roland Garros final for the second year in a row and followed up with a first Wimbledon quarter-final showing, losing to Rafael Nadal on both occasions.

Soderling next will face Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker, who was leading 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-3, 3-2 when his opponent, Ivan Dodig, was forced to retire due to severe cramping. World No. 48 de Bakker, who reached the New Haven semi-finals (l. to Stakhovsky) last week, also advanced to the third round at Roland Garros (l. to Tsonga) and Wimbledon (l. to Mathieu) earlier in 2010. 

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Former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet looked to be returning to his best form as he ousted sixth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. It is the first time since 2006 that the Frenchman has reached the third round at Flushing Meadows and the first time since the 2009 Australian Open that he has advanced past the second round at a major.

The 24-year-old Gasquet has struggled for consistency in 2010; he reached the finals in Sydney (l. to Baghdatis) and Gstaad (l. to Almagro) and won the Nice title (d. Verdasco) in May, but came into the US Open having won only two matches on the North American hard courts. He was up against a below-par Davydenko, who is yet to rediscover his blistering form from the start of the season after fracturing his left wrist in Indian Wells. The Russian, who won his 20th ATP World Tour title in Doha (d. Nadal) in January, slipped to a 23-12 match record on the season.

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Japanese qualifier Kei Nishikori was responsible for a second upset on Thursday, coming from two-sets-to-one down to defeat Croatian No. 11 seed and last year’s quarter-finalist Marin Cilic 5-7, 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 in a gripping match lasting just under five hours on Court 13. The 21-year-old Cilic, who came into the US Open on the back of successive first-round exits in Toronto (l. to Troicki) and Cincinnati (l. to Baghdatis), dropped to a 35-16 mark on the season.

"It's not easy to accept that you stayed on the court five hours and then had your chances and in the end you are down because tennis I think it's more just physical," said Cilic. "I would say the conditions were really tough. It was very humid. It wasn't easy to get the oxygen. That was it."

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The 20-year-old Nishikori posted his best Grand Slam result two years ago in New York, when he defeated then-World No. 4 David Ferrer to reach the fourth round. Since then, he had only advanced past the first round once in three Grand Slam main draw appearances. The right-hander next will face Albert Montanes, the No. 21 seed from Spain, who defeated Australian Carsten Ball 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and 46 minutes to win his 30th match of the season (30-17 record).

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