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01 October 2023

Soderling lines up against Tsonga in Rotterdam final

Sweden’s Robin Soderling returns in his semifinal against Victor Troicki of Serbia at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Ahoy stadium, Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Saturday. (AP)


Robin Soderling carries an unblemished 3-0 record against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga into Sunday’s final at the ATP Rotterdam Open after defeating the Frenchman in all three of their previous meetings.

Top seeded Swede Soderling will be bidding for his second consecutive title at the Ahoy stadium as he faces Tsonga after reaching the final through a 7-5 6-4 defeat of Serbian Viktor Troicki.
The eighth-seeded Tsonga will play his first final in 16 months since Tokyo in late 2009 after putting out Ivan Ljubicic 6-4 7-6 (8/6).
Soderling, losing finalist at the last two editions at Roland Garros, takes aim at a second trophy in as many months after starting 2011 with a title in Brisbane.
“Everyone is so good, there are never any easy matches,” said the Swedish winner, who has never lost a set against Tsonga. “I have to stay focused, I’ve done that for four matches this week.
Soderling improved to an impressive 12-1 on the season, his only loss coming in the Australian Open fourth round against Alexandr Dolgopolov. The Swede now stands 13-2 in Rotterdam.
The defeat marked additional disappointment for Troicki, who is 1-19 overall against Top five players and has lost his last 18 matches against the elite.
“I was fighting for every point,” said Soderling. “When you come to a place where you’ve played well before it brings good memories. It’s all about confidence.
“I have one more match and I plan to give it my all.”
Tsonga levelled his record with the 31-year-old world number 15 Ljubicic at two wins apiece after beating the Croatian at the Australian Open two years ago.
“My serve was my big advantage today,” said the winner, who managed seven aces in a contest lasting just over 90 minutes.
“I served well today but I was tight at the start after missing my quarter-final.
“It’s never easy to play Ivan, he doesn’t give you any rhythm. I’m just really happy to get into the final. It will be a tight match tomorrow, but I will give everything.”
Ljubicic is a long-standing fixture at the Ahoy stadium, playing the event for the ninth time. The finalist in 2005 and 2007 came off a long quarter-final when he took almost two-and-a-half hours to beat Marcos Baghdatis.
Tsonga earned a break in the fifth game of the opening set and later recovered in the second set, trailing 1-3 after putting a return long on break point.
The Frenchman then got the break back in the ninth game and slowly edged into a tiebreaker. He advanced to the title match on his second match point.
“Ivan doesn’t give you any rhythm, he’s always difficult to play,” said Tsonga. “I’m just really happy to get into the final. It will be a tight match tomorrow, but I will give everything.”