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Federer Wins In 900th Tour-Level Match; Soderling Close To Finals Qualification

Stockholm, Sweden

Blake© Joel Marklund/BildbyrånJames Blake has a 15-1 record in Stockholm.

Swiss superstar Roger Federer recorded his 49th match win of the season in his 900th tour-level match (727-173 overall) at the If Stockholm Open on Thursday.

World No. 2 and top seed Federer, playing at the ATP World Tour 250 indoor tournament for the first time in 10 years, defeated American Taylor Dent 6-1, 6-2 in 51 minutes to become the first active player to reach the milestone. He has never retired in a match during his career.

"In 1998 I played my first match and now I just played my 900th," said Federer. "It's crazy. I have a great win-loss record, and I couldn't have asked for a better career. And it was nice to actually win my 900th match."

Federer wrapped up the first set in 18 minutes, winning 16 of 21 service points and converting both break point opportunities he created. He broke serve in the second and seventh games of the second set to keep alive his chances of lifting his 64th tour-level title to draw level with Pete Sampras.

"Obviously it felt great walking out on the court and getting an early lead," said the Swiss. "It was a good hour of tennis, and I hardly made any mistakes."

Dent, currently No. 101 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, dropped to a 10-18 match record on the season.

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World No. 5 Robin Soderling also made his way comfortably into the quarter-finals at his home country tournament, opening with a 6-3, 6-3 win over German Benjamin Becker. He capitalised on three of his five break point chances to close out the victory in 65 minutes.

"It was nice to get that first win," said Soderling. "I felt that I was in control of the match the whole time. I’m quite happy with my aggressive game today, and since I haven’t spent too much time on the court, I expect to be fresh tomorrow."

Soderling, a two-time Stockholm finalist, is now one win away from qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and faces German Florian Mayer in his quarter-final match. The top Swede has reached the semi-finals the past three years at this tournament.

Rafael Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have already qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, leaving four singles spots up for grabs.

American wild card James Blake, the 2005-2006 If Stockholm Open champion, grinded out a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) win over German qualifier Matthias Bachinger in one hour and 50 minutes.

Former World No. 4 Blake improved to a 15-1 lifetime record at the ATP World Tour 250 indoor tournament and to a 15-15 match record on the season.

Ivan Ljubicic won a battle of 30-somethings Thursday, as the 31-year-old Croatian recorded his 10th straight win in 12 meetings over French 32-year-old Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-4 in 78 minutes.

Ljubicic won 76 per cent of service points and hit 12 aces for his 22nd win of the year, highlighted by one ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Roddick).

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