World No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s conqueror, Swede Robin Soderling, showed he is no one-off on Tuesday at the French Open, obliterating Roland Garros veteran Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 to move into the semifinals where he will face Chile’s Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez.
He is the first Swede to reach the Roland Garros semifinals since his coach Magnus Norman in 2000, but appears in only his second career claycourt semi after Bastad in 2004.
“I always knew that I could play really, really good tennis when I’m on top of my game,” said Soderling.
Davydenko was a French Open semifinalist in 2005 and 2007, and entered the event this year on the tail end of a foot injury.
“I really don’t know what I can say about the match,” Davydenko said. “If I tried to play well, he played much better. He surprised me; he played faster than before. The three times I lost to him [previously] I was never allowed to play well.”
Soderling is now 16-10 on the year, in the midst of an inexplicable run for a player better known for his indoor fastcourt acumen.
“I didn’t have a very easy draw,” Soderling said. “I played three very good claycourt players and I played three very good matches, so of course my confidence is getting better and better.”
Gonzalez became the first Chilean to reach the Roland Garros semifinals Tuesday after beating the third-seeded Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.
Clay has been the Chilean’s meal ticket, with eight of his 11 titles coming on the surface. The 28-year-old also won the 1998 Roland Garros junior title over future world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.
“I played a poor third set,” Murray commented on the bagel. “I have to give a lot of credit to him. I’ve played him before and he hits the ball hard, but today he was hitting it huge…he hit his forehand great and didn’t make many errors off it. Maybe I put too many balls to this stroke. His one-two punch off the serve was pretty impressive. He was hitting forehand winners a meter or two outside the tramlines. You cannot do a whole lot about that.”
Wednesday’s men’s quarterfinals at Roland Garros feature (11) Gael Monfils vs. (2) Roger Federer, and (5) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (16) Tommy Robredo.
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