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Soderling in final after thriller

FRENCH OPEN FINAL
Coverage: Sunday 7 June, 1400 BST - Live coverage on BBC Two and BBC Sport website (UK users only), text commentary on BBC Sport website/mobiles.

Robin Soderling

Highlights - Soderling beats Gonzalez

By Mark Ashenden

Robin Soderling survived a Fernando Gonzalez fightback to win 6-3 7-5 5-7 4-6 6-4 and make the French Open final.

The Swede, seeded 23, began well and comfortably took the first two sets, but the Chilean edged a thrilling third and battled back to steal the fourth.

The 12th seed looked favourite to win at 4-1 up in the final set, but Soderling regained his composure to reel off five games in a row.

He will meet world number two Roger Federer in the final.

"It's unbelievable," said Soderling. "I played well in the first two sets. Then he started to play incredibly well.

If he keeps serving at over 200kph and finding the lines, it'll be tough for whoever he faces in the final

Fernando Gonzalez

"I was down a break in the final set but I said to myself that I have nothing to lose. I started to return great and everything changed.

"I still have far to go with the most difficult match, maybe against Federer, to come on Sunday."

Soderling will be delighted with his comeback after looking out of sorts once he had moved into a two-set lead.

The Swede traded heavy blows from the baseline in a cautious start but it was Gonzalez who began the sharpest, breaking Soderling in the third game with a blistering backhand down the line.

His initiative did not last long though and Soderling, beginning to find his range and cranking up the power, raced into a 4-2 lead with four games in a row before comfortably taking the set 6-3.

Gonzalez, in only his second Grand Slam semi-final, seemed to lose his cool in the fifth game with an increasing number of errors, but he hung in there with the second set progressing with serve.

Fernando Gonzalez

Gonzalez's bizarre line-call reaction

Soderling, conqueror of Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, still looked the stronger of the two but despite facing three break points on his serve, Gonzalez battled his way back to edge ahead 5-4 after a nail-biting game.

The 10th game was a thriller as Gonzalez got within one point of levelling at one-set all, but the Swede, increasingly error-strewn himself, scrambled home with two booming serves.

The energy seemed to drain from the Chilean and despite a brief fightback after trailing 0-40 on his serve, one smashed Gonzalez racquet and an imperious service game from Soderling later, the Swede took the second set 7-5.

With the third set going with serve, Gonzalez slowly began to exhibit the skills Ronald Garros witnessed in his defeat of Andy Murray in the last eight.

And with his opponent wobbling on his serve, the Chilean pulled a set back to get the crowd on the Philippe Chatrier court roaring again.

The opening game of the fourth set was breathtaking. Gonzalez faced three break points but battled back to take the game with one phenomenal forehand winner down the line on the run.

At 4-4 the drama and tension was building and after Gonzalez, unhappy with a line call, lost his protest with the umpire he bizarrely rubbed the ball mark with his backside.

606: DEBATE
Aussie_Ahmed

A few minutes later the match had turned on its head and the ruffled Swede, with his serve and forehand crumbling, handed the fourth set to Gonzalez.

His momentum showed no sign of slowing down as he grabbed the opening three games of the deciding set.

Incredibly, Soderling seemed to relax and broke back to reduce the deficit to 4-3 and then broke again to be within a service game of the match.

The Swede, with six-times French Open champion Bjorn Borg watching from the stands, held his nerve to secure a remarkable victory.

"I never felt comfortable," said Gonzalez. "I couldn't hit clearly and it was tough.

"I served at 4-3 in the final set and I knew I had the match in my hands. I wanted to win it on my first serves, not second, but he made some great returns.

"If he keeps serving at over 200kph and finding the lines, it'll be tough for whoever he faces in the final."



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see also
Federer battles into French final
05 Jun 09 |  Tennis
French Open day 13 as it happened
05 Jun 09 |  Tennis
French Open day 13 pictures
05 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Federer sweeps into French semis
03 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Inspired Gonzalez sees off Murray
02 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Champion Nadal falls to Soderling
31 May 09 |  Tennis
Nadal stays calm after shock loss
31 May 09 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis


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