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Nadal v Soderling as it happened

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606: DEBATE

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By David Ornstein

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery on Twitter: "Straight sets but the best match so far, real tension at the end. Soderling can beat anyone this week, Rafa just lacking that edge."

1635: That was the first straight sets match we've seen so far but without doubt the most engrossing. Murray-Del Potro was a touch scrappy, Federer-Verdasco one-sided once the Spaniard cracked. Nadal-Soderling was a humdinger and, as if that wasn't enough for one day, there's more to come later as defending champion Novak Djokovic does battle with 2008 runner-up Nikolay Davydenko. That match should is due to start at 2045 GMT so makes sure you come back here for your blow-by-blow guide.

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Anon via text on 81111
"Rafa will do well to make the semis now - Djokovic and Soderling look good to progress from this group! Rafa has just not been playing well lately."

1630: Soderling's win puts him top of Group B in the round-robin competition and one victory from his final two matches, against Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko, should guarantee him a place in the semi-finals. Nadal, who won the Australian Open before missing so much of the season through injury, must win his other two games to stand a chance.

1625: Those who thought the Swede's triumph over Nadal at this year's French Open was a flash in the pan will be forced to eat humble pie. Despite only qualifying for these ATP Tour Finals via Andy Roddick's withdrawal through injury, the 25-year-old right-hander seems to thrive off the chance to mix it with the best and is almost certainly here to stay.

1620: Hands up if you correctly predicted that result... An outstanding win for world number nine Robin Soderling, who could not have dreamed of marking his end-of-season tournament debut with victory over the world number two.

Robin Soderling on his shock victory over Rafael Nadal:
"I managed to play really well on the important points and served well throughout. There's a long way to go but I've got off to a great start. Winning against the world number two is not bad. I've got to take one game at a time and hopefully come Sunday I will be pleased with how I've done. I had some problems in the past with injuries but this year has been by far the best year - I've been far more consistent. This is the the best tournament I've ever played and with so many people watching I'm just so pleased."


SECOND SET:

Nadal 4-6 4-6 Soderling
Goodness me, you could slice the tension around the O2 with a knife that game. Soderling hits a glorious winner to level at 15-15 and when Rafa slices a backhand long we're at 30-30 and Soderling is two points from the match. The Swede tightens up and drills a poor backhand into the net but Nadal goes long twice and Soderling has a match point. A look of horror etched across the face of Nadal. Soderling wastes his chance by going long with a forehand but then unleashes a backhand winner to bring up a second match point. No nerves for the Swede this time and the match is his after Rafa goes long once more. Game, set and match Soderling.

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery on Twitter: "Backhand winner from Nadal draws a gasp in the media centre - last heard when they announced Federer's press conference would be at midnight"

*Nadal 4-6 4-5 Soderling
A unbelievable scooped backhand crosscourt winner raises hopes that Rafa could be about to break at a critical time. But Soderling deserves immense credit for the way he sticks with the Majorcan, keeps his concentration and forces a game point. Rafa puts a backhand into the tramlines and suddenly Soderling is potentially a game away from winning the match. Blimey.

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Britain's One & Only on 606: "Don't know if all the running about by Rafa is helping his knees much."

Nadal 4-6 4-4 Soderling*
Worrying glances among the Nadal camp as their charge wastes his penultimate challenge of the set on a ball that sailed comfortable long. But Rafa hits a lovely forehand winner and then Soderling goes wide and on serve we stay.

brasseye on Twitter: "I think Soderling has the variety and power to beat Nadal in 3 sets. Not sure he has the reserves to transfer to 5, however."

*Nadal 4-6 3-4 Soderling
A missed opportunity? Rafa gets to 30-30 but loses his way and then nets a backhand to hand Soderling the hold. Rafa keeps looking up to his support team. Something seems up with the world number two.

Nadal 4-6 3-3 Soderling*
Straightforward hold for Rafa in double-quick time. Soderling was still catching his breath from his own service game but the balls are already back in his hand.

BBC Radio 5 Live
David Law on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra: "If you ever turned the O2 Arena upside down it would take Niagara Falls 15 minutes to fill it. You could also 72 tennis courts inside the whole arena."

*Nadal 4-6 2-3 Soderling
Interesting to see Soderling getting annoyed at one of the ball girls for a reason seemingly unbeknown to anyone but the Swede. He's getting tetchy out there and his mood is dampened as Rafa comes from behind to force deuce. A succession of game points come and go for Soderling, who is picture of angst after horribly miscuing a drive-volley in mid-court. On the seventh deuce, Nadal engineers a break point but puts a forehand into the tramlines and we're back where we were. Soderling regains the initiative with an unstoppable smash and eventually takes the game when Rafa nets. Superb resilience from the Swede. His coach Magnus Norman looks chuffed to bits.

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Andy O in Ealing via text on 81111
"Rafa has always been a bit jittery with Soderling; Soderling has always refused to be drawn in by the aura surrounding Rafa; he definitely likes to rattle him; remember the comments he made to Rafa in the early days?"
I think Andy is referring to the way Soderling and Rafa fell out last year after the Swede mimics the Spaniard's pre-service routine.

Nadal 4-6 2-2 Soderling*
As the debate rages between David Law and Annabel Croft on 5 live sports extra over what constitutes a break of serve (is it the break itself, or holding serve in the following game?), Soderling races into a 0-40 lead on the Nadal serve. Rafa reduces the deficit when Soderling nets and it's 30-40 after the world number nine lashes a forehand long. One more chance, Robin, one more chance. And there it is, the break back! A Rafa backhand is called good, Soderling challenges and Hawk-Eye shows the ball went long.

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery on Twitter: "Second time in 2 days they've started the music when it's not a changeover. I know we all want to hear the blackeyed peas but really... "

*Nadal 4-6 2-1 Soderling
Nadal hits a forehand winner down the line to move 30-15 up on the Soderling serve but the man from Tibro, Sweden, opens his body up to unleash a stinging forehand winner of his own. Nadal is handed a break point when Soderling double-faults and the crowd will him to take it. The 23-year-old Majorcan does just that by ending a gripping rally with a well-placed overhead. Rafa breaks serve and will now serve for a 3-1 lead.

Nadal 4-6 1-1 Soderling*
Soderling sends a forehand long to hand Nadal a love service game.

*Nadal 4-6 0-1 Soderling
Cool as you like, Soderling starts the second set by holding to 15. So far, this match has an eerie resemblance to Federer-Verdasco on day one. That said, Soderling seems to have more about him than Verdasco. Time will tell...

FIRST SET:

Nadal 4-6 Soderling*
Wow. Wasn't expecting that. Soderling takes Rafa to 30-30 and bounces around the baseline as if confident of securing a break for the set. Rafa holds his nerve to make 40-30 but a couple of unforced errors from the Spaniard and suddenly Soderling has a set point. He takes it when Rafa flicks a top-spin forehand long. Stunned silence around the O2. Like world number of Roger Federer yesterday, world number two Rafael Nadal has lost the opening set.

*Nadal 4-5 Soderling
A confident hold to love for Soderling, serving out with an ace. Will he look to turn up the pressure on Rafa now?

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Z in London via text on 81111
"David, you haven't furnished us with the vital information on Rafa's choice of fluorescent outfit or hair do. Please do. And while you're at it, his number?"
I'm no fashionista but I must say he looks resplendent a bright green top, matching wristbands and carefully pressed Wimbledon-style white shorts. The black shoes and white socks are questionable but the white headband with green sponsor's logo looks smart. As for his digits, you're havin' a larf!

Nadal 4-4 Soderling*
Nadal falls 30-0 behind on serve but Soderling nets a forehand and then a backhand return to things up. A wild miscue on the Soderling forehand gives Rafa game point. "He must have lost the ball in the light, he didn't see that one at all," says Annabel Croft on 5 live sports extra. Rafa seals the game with an ace.

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Dejan via text on 81111
"Rafa to go through so Djokovic can demolish him again in final!"

*Nadal 3-4 Soderling
Soderling to collapse after being broken? No chance. The burly Swede dominates his service game this time round and gets his neck back in from when Rafa puts a backhand long.

*Nadal 3-4 Soderling
Soderling to collapse after being broken? No chance. The burly Swede dominates his service game this time round and gets his neck back in from when Rafa puts a backhand long.

Andy Murray on Twitter: "What's up. In player lounge. been looking at my fantasy football team 4 30mins. No changes yet tho. Slept 11 hours last night. Feel good."

Nadal 3-3 Soderling*
Rafa follows up his break by holding to love, sealed with an ace. Easy as that.

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery on Twitter: "We have a contest between Spanish girls shouting "vamos rafa!" and presumably jealous British men responding "come on robin!"

*Nadal 2-3 Soderling
After a circumspect start, Rafa's now finding his touch. Outlasting Soderling in a 24-shot rally sends him 30-15 and when Soderling nets a backhand the Spaniard has two break points. The first is saved by a Federer-like inside-out forehand winner but Rafa pounces at the second time of asking as Sodering blazes wide. There's the break back and we're going with serve again.

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Rachel Tyrrell in Lincoln via text on 81111
"To set up a truly mouth-watering 2010, Nadal needs to win this event. C'mon Rafa."

Nadal 1-3 Soderling*
Rafa gets his name on the scoreboard with a commanding service game. He falls 15-0 down when Soderling unleashes a fierce forehand but a couple of winners and an ace see the Spaniard through. That's more like it, Rafa.

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Darren in Birmingham via text on 81111
"Come on Robin! You can slay the giant again! PLEASE!"

*Nadal 0-3 Soderling
Magnificent from Soderling. Three games up after eight minutes. The 25-year-old Monaco resident sends down two aces and another booming forehand winner en route to taking the game with a swagger.

Nadal 0-2 Soderling*
A few gasps among the capacity crowd after Rafa falls 30-0 down on serve courtesy of a crunching forehand winner by Soderling and a double fault. Rafa responds by passing his right-handed opponent down the line but Soderling forces his way to 40-15. He gets the break of serve quite easily, really, when Rafa nets a routine backhand.

*Nadal 0-1 Soderling
Lest we forget, Soderling is only competing in London after world number six Andy Roddick pulled out with a knee injury. But the Swede looks comfortable and gets his campaign under way with a comfortable hold of serve as Nadal sends a backhand long.
* Denotes next to serve.


1430: Here we go. Soderling to serve first. Enjoy, ladies and gentlemen.

1427: I'd be inclined to say the reception Nadal received from the O2 Arena crowd was louder than that afforded to either Andy Murray or Roger Federer on day one. The Spaniard bounces on to court and goes straight into a warm-up with Soderling.


1425: Without BBC TV pictures of this match there are two ways for you to follow proceedings - via BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and this text commentary. I'd recommend you do both!

1420: If you want to get involved in the chat, give me a shout by text to 81111, 606 or Twitter

1415: With the opening round of Group A matches done and dusted, we're turning out attention to Group B today. And first up it's Nadal and Soderling.

1410: Still buzzing from two cracking matches on day one of the ATP World Tour Finals yesterday? Hungry for more action? Your wish is my command. How about world number two Rafael Nadal against Sweden's Robin Soderling followed by world number three Novak Djokovic versus Nikolay Davydenko? Let's get it on.




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see also
Soderling stuns Nadal in London
23 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray revels in London spotlight
22 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray beats Del Potro in opener
22 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Federer wins after Verdasco scare
22 Nov 09 |  Tennis
ATP Finals photos
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis


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