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Soderling Cruises Past Roddick; Llodra's Dream Run Continues

Paris, France

Soderling, Roddick© Getty ImagesRobin Soderling and Andy Roddick will both feature at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

World No. 5 Robin Soderling gained an early psychological advantage over fellow Barclays ATP World Tour Finals qualifier Andy Roddick by defeating the American 7-5, 6-4 Friday to reach the BNP Paribas Masters semi-finals.

The Swede bided his time in the first set before converting his fifth break point chance in the 11th game to clinch a one-set lead. The fourth seed then capitalised on his momentum by breaking serve to lead 2-0 in the second set, and went on to claim victory in 87 minutes.

Both Soderling and Roddick will feature in the elite eight-man field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 21-28 November.

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“Against Andy the margin is always going to be very small,” assessed Soderling, who a snapped two-match losing streak against the American. “I lost to him in three sets in Indian Wells and I lost to him 7-6 in the third [set] in Cincinnati.  Both matches, with a little bit of luck, I think I could have won. Against Andy, it's always just a matter of taking the chances you get, and then today I think I did really well.”

“I didn't start off well and Robin is the kind of guy who, if you don't start off well, you're not going to see a lot of rallies to be able to work your way into a match,” lamented Roddick. “I just didn't feel sharp.  Everything was very average. I played one good point, one bad point. The basics weren't there as much as they have been the past couple weeks, which is disappointing, but it is what it is.”

The 26-year-old Soderling is through to the semi-finals in Paris-Bercy for the first time after quarter-final exits in 2004 (l. Mirnyi) and 2009 (l. to Djokovic). The Tibro native is bidding to win his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

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Soderling next will face Frenchman Michael Llodra, who continued his dream run in Paris-Bercy by defeating Russian No. 10 seed and 2006 tournament champion Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 6-1. The 30-year-old Llodra, who ousted defending champion Novak Djokovic in the third round, is through to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final at the 41st attempt.

"It's just a follow up to what I did all year round," said Llodra. "I've improved on many little things, but the main thing is my mental progression. I am now able to be better than the Top 30. I'm not saying I can do that every week, but on this type of surface, this week here in Paris, I was able to have three victories in a row against Top 20 players. It's good for the future."

World No. 34 Llodra fell behind an early break of serve in the first set, but from trailing 2-4, went on to win 11 of the next 13 games to seal victory in 75 minutes. Victory for Paris native Llodra ensured there will be a French representative in the semi-finals at Paris-Bercy for the fourth straight year.

"I knew it was tough against him, because he has very good returns. This is typical from him. I knew I shouldn't get scared even if I was broken," explained Llodra."I needed to be very serious about my serves, and I needed to play serve and volley because he was returning well. And also, I was very lucid on break points. When I had opportunities, I tried to be aggressive.  I think today it was more mental victory than a tennis victory."

The left-hander is the first unseeded semi-finalist in Paris-Bercy since 2007, when David Nalbandian won the title and Marcos Baghdatis reached the semi-finals. He is hoping to reach his third ATP World Tour final of the season after winning titles in Marseille (d. Benneteau) and Eastbourne (d. Garcia-Lopez).

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