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Soderling Sharp In Melbourne; Tsonga, Youzhny Upset

Melbourne, Australia

Soderling© Getty ImagesRobin Soderling has yet to drop a set this season.

World No. 4 Robin Soderling continued his career-best run at the Australian Open, dismissing Czech Jan Hernych 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 on Saturday to sweep into the fourth round without the loss of a set.

Soderling took just under two hours to defeat the 241st-ranked qualifier, improving to an 8-0 season record, including his title win two weeks ago in Brisbane (d. Roddick). Though he lost a service game for just the second time this year, he converted on six of 12 break point opportunities against Hernych.

“Physically I feel very good,” said Soderling, who has yet to drop a set in 2011. “I haven't spent too many hours on court yet and I'm already in the fourth round, which is very good, so I think for me it’s a little bit of an advantage.”

While Soderling has reached the quarter-finals or better at the other three majors, highlighted by back-to-back runner-up finishes at Roland Garros, he had never advanced beyond the second round in Melbourne before breaking through this week on his sixth visit.

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Australian Open debutant Alexandr Dolgopolov spoiled the anticipated fourth-round clash between Soderling and 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when he eliminated the 13th-seeded Frenchman 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

“It's the second week of a Slam. Beating Jo – he’s a really big player – in five sets; for sure it’s probably the biggest match I’ve won for now,” said World No. 47 Dolgopolov.

“His physical form is not probably the best now,” he added. “In the second set I could come up from a break down, and I was just holding on. He had a really good third set, was up a break, and he just started hitting winners. I had to hold on and play consistent, try to make him more tired.”

Tsonga, who was sidelined with a number of injuries throughout the 2010 season, said: “I try every day to play, to be better. But sometimes, you have some problem [concentrating], and that’s it. I think today I lost this match because I need maybe more matches, more competition.”

With the exception of a first-round loss to Andy Roddick in his first tournament appearance in 2007, Tsonga had reached the quarter-finals or better at the year’s first Slam. He lost to Roger Federer last year in the semi-finals.

Canadian qualifier Milos Raonic showed no signs of slowing down on his Melbourne Park debut, upsetting World No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 46 minutes. The 20 year old struck 64 winners, including 31 aces to take his total to a tournament-best 79, and broke Youzhny for a sixth time to clinch his first win against a Top 10 player.

“I didn’t really count myself out,” said Raonic. “I know I can play well and I know I can play at this level. I knew the chances were in his favour, but I knew I was prepared to fight for every point, however long it took. I can’t say I would be shocked if I wasn’t here, but I’m not really shocked I am here. I worked hard and I've put in the hours, so it’s all coming together.”

Raonic entered his second major at a career-high No. 152 ranking, and is projected to break into the Top 100 of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings by reaching the fourth round.

He will next meet another Top 10 player, World No. 7 David Ferrer, who dispatched Lithuanian Richard Berankis 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in 91 minutes. Like Soderling, the 28-year-old Ferrer opened his 2011 campaign on a winning note, claiming his 10th ATP World Tour title at the Heineken Open in Auckland (d. Nalbandian).

Ferrer reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in 2008, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

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