BNP PARIBAS MASTERS PARIS
Soderling Saves 3 M.P. To End Llodra's Fairytale Run
by ATP Staff|
World No. 5 Robin Soderling ended Michael Llodra’s fairytale run at the BNP Paribas Masters Saturday as he saved three match points to defeat the Frenchman 6-7(0), 7-5, 7-6(6) and reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.
In a gripping 12th game of the third set, the Swede fended off match point three times and clinched victory in the decisive tie-break on his second match point after two hours and 49 minutes of action at the Palais Omnisports.
"Today it was a great match. It wasn't maybe pretty, but I'm here as a winner," reflected Soderling. "I think tennis is a very mental sport, because everybody can play; everybody is so good. So it's the mental [aspect] that's going to decide a lot of matches."
The 30-year-old Llodra, who was contesting his career-first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final, had fought back from a 1-4 deficit in the final set but could not complete the comeback. Earlier in the week the Paris native had defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko.
"I'm upset. It would be lying if I told you that I am not angry at myself," said Llodra. "But anyway I did nothing wrong. I want to see the positive side of things. I beat Djokovic, Top 3; I beat [John] Isner, who I lost to last week; I beat another player that generally bothers me a lot. So I was able to have good matches. In a tie-break sometimes it's a lottery."
Soderling has produced another strong season, highlighted by winning his fifth ATP World Tour title in Rotterdam and reaching the Roland Garros final (l. to Nadal) for the second year in a row. The 26 year old is the fifth player to reach the Roland Garros final and Bercy title match in the same year.
The right-hander, who will line-up in the elite eight-man field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in a week’s time, will overtake Andy Murray at a career-high World No. 4 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings if he wins the title in Paris-Bercy.
"All the top players want to do well in the big tournaments," said Soderling. "I think this year for me it's been very good in the Grand Slams and also in the Masters 1000s. I played two semi-finals, now one quarters, and a final. It's good, but I'm still missing a win. I really hope I can play well tomorrow, and then hopefully I have a chance.
"I feel perfect, which is very good because I have one big match coming up tomorrow, and also a couple of matches in London. So I'm really looking forward to the end of this season."
In the final, Soderling will face French hope Gael Monfils, against whom he has a 2-0 career record. The Tibro native is the first Swedish player to reach the final in Paris-Bercy since Jonas Bjorkman in 1997 and will look to become the first champion since Thomas Enqvist prevailed a year earlier. The last Swede to win an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title was Enqvist in Cincinnati in 2000.