Semifinalists spotted

ABU DHABI - World No 5 Robin Soderling will take on World No 1 Roger Federer while, World No 6 Tomas Berdych set up a revenge meeting with World No 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals after the two came through their quarterfinals in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex at Zayed Sports City on Thursday.

By James Jose

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Published: Fri 31 Dec 2010, 12:18 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:50 AM

Soderling, last year’s runner-up defeated Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1 on the night, while Czech Berdych beat Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, earlier in the day.

Soderling earned a break in the first game of the first set before Tsonga levelled by taking the second game into the tie-breaker. But Soderling earned breaks in the second and sixth games to take the third set and the match.

Swede Soderling, who broke a 12-match losing streak against Federer by beating him in the quarterfinal at Roland Garros, has a chance to build on it.

“I played a very good first set. I had a couple of chances in the second but I was unlucky that I could not win it,” Soderling said. About facing Federer, he said: “It is great to play against him. He is a great player and we have many good matches. You get to learn a few things. It is going to be fun.” Earlier, in the first match of the day, World No 6 Tomas Berdych overcame his erratic service game in the second set to put it past Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis.

Baghdatis seemed a bit rusty and had trouble with his first serve in the first set, while Berdych was on top of his game. Berdych earned the crucial break in the fourth game to take the first set 6-3.

Berdych fired an ace to hold serve in the first game. He had two break points in the second, but failed to finish it off. World No 20 Baghdatis ripped his trusted forehand long and then saw his backhand go out. But he pulled it back to 15-30 with a superb backhand cross-court. He doubled faulted though when on 30-30 which gave Berdych a look in. But Baghdatis pulled it back to deuce before sending his forehand long to give Berdych another break point. It went to deuce again before Baghdatis held on to hold serve.

It went with serves before Berdych again had two break points in the fourth. Berdych sent his forehand wide the first time around to push it to deuce and then Baghdatis took back the advantage with a neat drop. But he netted his forehand to push it back to deuce. Baghdatis then fired a forehand long before handing the break after netting his forehand. They held serve thereafter and Berdych closed out the set 6-3.

Baghdatis was broken early in the second set where he lost serve in the third game. But the half Cypriot Greek-Lebanese, upped his game as Berdych’s game dwindled a bit. Bagdatis earned two breaks in the sixth and eighth to take the set and push the match into a deciding third set.

Baghdatis was broken in the sixth game of the third set before he broke back in the ninth and also saved a match point. Baghdatis was 0-40 up before Berdych clawed back and had the chance to close out the match. But he sent two of his forehands long to give the advantage before Baghdatis ripped a superb down-the-line forehand to earn the break. But they held serve after that and Berdych closed it out.

“It was a pretty good match. It was a good start to the season to have a game and it was a close game. The conditions were a bit tough with the sun hitting straight on one side and it was a bit tough to cope with,” Berdych said after the game.

Berdych faces a stiff test in the form of Nadal and he has the chance to avenge the defeat in the final at Wimbledon. “I’m looking forward to playing against him again. I just need to try and find a pretty good game against him. I need to try and enjoy it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Baghdatis, who flies to Brisbane after the New Year for the tune-up for the Australian Open said: “It was first game in two months. So, it was tough to up against a top 10 player in the beginning. But I’m pretty happy with my movement on court. But I also need to work on other things. I need to work on my first and second serves. I need to improve a lot on that if I have to take on such players.”

In the semifinal on Friday, Soderling faces Federer in the first match of the day, while Nadal takes on Berdych after that.

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