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Soderling soldiers on, Federer eyes the trophy

Text by Emmanuel VERSACE , , special correspondent at the French Open

Latest update : 2009-06-05

Swiss Roger Federer aims to extend his 5-0 record against Juan Martin del Potro as he edges closer to the last grand slam title that has yet eluded him. Swede Robin Soderling faces Fernando Gonzalez in the other semi-final match.

This Friday it’s the men’s turn to hit the Philippe-Chatrier court and see who will have the privilege of fighting it out in the tournament’s final. In the first semi-final, Robin Soderling of Sweden – who beat Ferrer, Nadal and Davydenko in succession – will face Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.

The two have already played each other seven times; the Santiago native won four of those matches, two of them on clay courts. But suspense lingers, as the two players -- only 13 spots apart in the ATP ranking -- have not squared off since 2007.

Gonzales is only the second Chilean in history to reach the French Open semi-finals, and the fourth best player of the season on clay court, after Robredo, Nadal and Djokovic.


He has benefitted from a rather lucky line-up of matches at this year’s French Open – with the exception of the quarter-finals, during which he had to knock out Andy Murray (6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4) in order to continue his progress.

His imminent opponent has been less lucky. To make it to this stage of the competition, Soderling has had to get rid of three of the world’s twenty best players: David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal of Spain, ranked 14 and 1 world-wide, respectively, and Russian player Nikolay Davydenko, ranked 10th.

But playing the best tennis of his career, Soderling has shown from the beginning of this tournament that he is capable of anything.

The winner of the semi-final will face either Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro or Switzerland’s Roger Federer, whose own semi-final match is also on Friday. Federer is the clear favorite in this match; he has won the last six times the two faced off, and will show up powered by an intensified motivation: he knows that he is now only two wins away from becoming the sixth player in history to sweep all four Grand Slam tournaments.

Date created : 2009-06-05

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