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Wimbledon 2011: Robin Soderling v Lleyton Hewitt as it happened

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By Tom Fordyce
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

1705: Wonderful, wonderful contest. Standing ovation - you have to feel for Hewitt, in what could be his final year at his favourite tournament, but Soderling has shown a lot of people what he's made of. This from the Swede, tackled in the locker-room by my BBC colleague Garry Richardson: "Against a player like Hewitt it's not easy, but I showed I can play well against the best players on the big courts. You have to take one point at a time - I was a little unlucky in the first set, but even when I was two sets down I felt if I could raise my game a little bit I still had a great chance."

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 6-4 Hewitt
Almost four hours gone now, and Hewitt must hold serve here to stay in the championships. Long exchange from the baseline, Hewitt into the net for 0-15. Oh, blistering forehand cross-court from Soderling, Hewit flat-footed, 0-30. Oh, dreadful forehand into the net from Hewitt, and suddenly he's staring down the wrong end of three match points. Big serve, dashing in.. net! He's found the net...

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 5-4 Hewitt *
Both players looking fresh like daisies, but the end could now come at any point - Soderling holds with an ace that sounds around Centre like a gunshot. Under the towel again at the changeover and a nibble on the fingernails. He's not the only one.

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 4-4 Hewitt
No blinking there from Hewitt - hold to love, the pressure thrown right back across the net. New balls for Soderling's next service game. Small advantages, tiny margins.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 4-3 Hewitt *
Who will blink first? Or last, more accurately - there's been so much blinking so far, and you feel there's more to come. Huge numbers now glued to this match on Henman Hill, and quite rightly so. Where's your money?

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 3-3 Hewitt
Take that stat, says Hewitt, and ram it - hold to love, first serve perfect. Take nothing in this match for granted.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 3-2 Hewitt *
30-30 on the Soderling serve, every game with the feel of something decisive, but his serve is such a weapon - too good for Hewitt. Soders at 65% on his first serve, Hewitt under 50%. Could that be the key?

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 2-2 Hewitt
Just get the feeling there's a few more twists and turns in this one. Soderling, blowing on his fingers like a gunslinger at the OK Corral, blistering forehands, two break-back points. Knew it. First one wasted with a forehand long, second one - superior rally, the tension ratcheting up with every stroke... Hewitt crumbling, dragging his backhand into the tape. After a slow-burner of a start, we've got a nail-biter on our hands.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 2-2 Hewitt *
Just get the feeling there's a few more twists and turns in this one. Soderling, blowing on his fingers like a gunslinger at the OK Corral, blistering forehands, two break-back points. Knew it. First one wasted with a forehand long, second one - superior rally, the tension ratcheting up with every stroke... Hewitt crumbling, dragging his backhand into the tape. After a slow-burner of a start, we've got a nail-biter on our hands.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 1-2 Hewitt *
If it's going to happen for Hewitt, it's going to happen now - three break points, Soderling suddenly losing all concentration. Here we go - chance on the forehand, ball sitting up... no no, shoulders tighten, ball eats net. Soderling in control of the next point, pulling Hewitt apart with the direction of his groundstrokes, and Hewitt now goes long again under extreme pressure - deuce. Soderling onto the line for ad, weirdly wide for deuce again. Hewitt - smack onto the tape, the ball teetering and then dropping Swede-side. A fourth break point. Soderling... wide! Break taken - anyone see that coming?

Greg Rusedski
Greg Rusedski on BBC TV: "One of the reasons you want to serve first in the final set is that your opponent is always having to serve to stay in it. It was all about the big points in that fourth set - Soderling was the one who created the big chances and took them."

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 1-1 Hewitt
Just as I write that Hewitt canters out to 40-0. Inevitable. Ah-ha - ripping pass from Soderling, error Hewitt, slicer long from the Aussie - deuce. "LET'S GO HEWEY!" bellows a Fanatic. Super lob by Soders, Hewitt scampering - gets there, adjusts the feet, gets back in the point, celebrates with a fist-pumper as Soderling drifts a backhand long. Long again, advantage Hewitt, long again, game. "COME ON! screams the diminutive battler.

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 1-0 Hewitt
Soderling's serve could be decisive here. Its power and reliability allow him to rattle through his games, Hewitt by contrast having to fight, fight, fight on his.* denotes next server

FOURTH SET
* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 Hewitt
Hewitt to hold to stay in the set, and he's struggling - slicer from Soderling, and Hewitt can't lift it up and over the net. 15-30. What a volley! Becker ptII from Hewitt, full length to the backhand to volley mid-air back the other way. Big point. Oh, what a waste - he's thrown a forehand long, and Soderling has set point for two sets apiece. Here we go... big first serve, blocked return drifting just long. Deuce. Oooh, netted from Hewitt, another set point. Long! Is that it? Hewitt challenging, Soderling already sitting down in his chair - yup, long indeed, and we'll go to a fifth...

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 5-4 Hewitt *
More evidence that the Soderling serve is going through the gears - hold to love, and he's hit 11 aces in this set alone.

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 4-4 Hewitt
Three hours now on the match clock, and we could have a while to go yet. Hewitt holds to 15, and we're accelerating towards a possible shoot-out.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 4-3 Hewitt *
Ace number 19 from Soderling, and he's starting to look ominously potent on his serve. At the changeover his body language looks better too - towel no longer over head, expression perkier, shoulders back rather than down.



* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 3-3 Hewitt
Cheeky in the cheap seats. A woman waits for her pal to look the other way, and then reaches over quickly to pinch what looks like a date from her companion's open box. And another! You have to salute her pluck. Into the net from Hewitt on the stretch for deuce, and if you've started to get inklings of a Soderling win over five sets, you're not alone. The Aussie hangs on as a big serve forces the Swedish error.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 3-2 Hewitt *
In the BBC commentary box, Greg Rusedski purrs at the Soderling forehand. Weapon with a capital W. Hold in a blink.

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 2-2 Hewitt
Curious how a set of such class as the third could be followed by a trough like the fourth. Perhaps it's natural, the reaction to a raising of stakes and levels in the nitty-gritty.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 2-1 Hewitt *
Smash-bash backhand return from Hewitt, stepping in to Soderling's second serve for the winner. It's an isolated moment of success in a barrage of Soderling serving. Slow, low-key start to the fourth set.

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 1-1 Hewitt
Raining outside, dry like the Gobi under the Centre Court roof. Hewitt holds with ease, tugging his sweat-soaked shirt off his shoulder as he marches towards a bal-boy, beckoning briskly for a towel.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 1-0 Hewitt *
Hewitt dashes off for a courtesy break, and hundreds of bladder-heavy punters do the same. Sloppy game for both on the resumption, Soderling wriggling clear from 0-30 as Hewitt struggles to find his range.* denotes next server

THIRD SET

Soderling 6-7 3-6 7-5 Hewitt
Tension thick in the air. Fierce exchange, net-cord from Soderling, 0-15... wasted with a casual forehand long. Hewitt forced wide, tries a slicing retrieve.. wider still. 15-30, pressure building like the grey clouds overhead. Hewitt forced to scurry, forced to hurry, and his backhand... it's long, you know, and Soderling has two set points. First serve... long. Second in, but Soderling is all over the rally - Hewitt down low, his backhand lower still - it's into the net, and Soderling has stolen it away...

Soderling 6-7 3-6 6-5 Hewitt *
Reprise - hold with biff-boff serving, pressure back on Hewitt. can Soderling snatch something before the breaker?

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 5-5 Hewitt
Soderling fails to put any pressure whatsover on the Hewitt serve. Poor. He's still moving between points with a heavy tread, and if he continues to struggle on the Aussie serve any potential tie-breaker could be dicey indeed.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 5-4 Hewitt *
Soderling landing 65% of his first serves, and another ace pulls him away from the rocks at 30-30. Yup, another biggie, game secured, and Hewitt must hold to stay in the set.

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 4-4 Hewitt
At last Soderling seems to have realised the pickle he's dipped in, and is starting to up the aggression and zing. Blistering forehand, in to the net, volleyed away. Still sloppiness dripping off too many points though - long forehand, backhand reply into the tape, level again.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 4-3 Hewitt *
Splendid pass from Hewitt for 0-30 in the so-often-pivotal seventh game of the set. Great hitting suddenly from Soderling, driving the forehand and moving his opponent around mercilessly. 40-30 - but another throwback pass from Hewitt, spotting his target at the net and dipping a backhand past the end of his flailing racquet. Big serve, ace, Soderling stamps out the sparks.

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 3-3 Hewitt
What a pick-up and volley combo that is from Hewitt. A net-cord from Soders should leave him flat-footed, but he adjusts those twinkle-toes in an instant to dash in and slice deep - and then, as the attempted pass sizzles back, throws himself full-length to his left to Becker a diving volley away for the winner. Shot du jour.

Text in your views on 81111
Anonymous via text to 81111 "Not wanting to tempt fate, but could Hewitt be this year's Ivanesivic? Would be really nice to see an ex champ do well against the odds."

Soderling 6-7 3-6 3-2 Hewitt *
From the longest game of the match to the shortest - hold to love for the Swede. Not sure how happy he is though; at the changeover he slumps in his chair, official Wimbledon towel over his head, racquet discarded on his bag.

Text in your views on 81111
Andrew in rain-soaked Maidstone "I was never a big fan of Lleyton Hewitt when he was dominating tennis, and Tim Henman. But now I find it hard to dislike his plucky, never say die spirit."

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 2-2 Hewitt
At last a sniff for Soderling on the Hewitt serve. A sequence of flashing forehands ends with the Swede crashing one for a clean winner and deuce, but that's a punchy riposte from Hewitt - slashing serve down the middle for an ace. Roof still on despite the sunshine outside; possibly the wrong call, on reflection, but rain was apparently threatening earlier, and once they've started with the lid on they must continue. Deuce again, and again, untuil Soderling lances a forehand long. The gap might just be starting to narrow.

Soderling 6-7 3-6 2-1 Hewitt *
Soderling has hardly come here with days of recent grass court experience in his kitbag; for the third year on the bounce, he didn't bother playing any of the warm-up tournaments on offer. Mind you, didn't do Bjorn Borg too much harm - each of his five Wimbledon titles came straight off the clay court season. Maybe it's a Swedish thing.

* Soderling 6-7 3-6 1-1 Hewitt
Hold in a flash from the rampant Aussie. Barely a seat free, and quite rightly so.

Greg Rusedski
Greg Rusedski on BBC TV: "Hewitt is just playing the bigger points better at the moment, that is just his experience and belief."

Soderling 6-7 3-6 1-0 Hewitt *
Soderling has yet to have a single break point on the Hewitt serve. Hmmm. You want his career record from two sets down? He's fought back from the abyss twice. Hold with a barrelling backhand down the line after a serve to the ad court way out wide. * denotes next server

SECOND SET
* Soderling 6-7 3-6 Hewitt
A reminder that Hewitt is ranked 130th in the world, Soderling fifth. Fizzing forehand, two set points. The Fanatics going ripe bananas. First serve... long. Second serve... net! Double-fault, and now Soderling will finally come in to put an overhead backhand volley away for deuce. No - long, set point, big serve, return... long! The Aussie has the set and all the momentum - what an upset this would be.

Soderling 6-7 3-5 Hewitt *
One of these two players is the most experience grass-court player in the game, and it's not Soderling. While he loiters beyond the baseline, Hewitt is bringing all the classic tactics to the table - dashes to the net, fizzing volleys, lovely disguised lobs if his opponent does trot in. Break point... Soderling in now, an easy cross-court backhander... oh, how has Hewitt reached that? Desperate lunge, block at full stretch, the ball pinging back across the net almost in slow motion. The 2002 champ has the break, and will serve for a two set lead...

* Soderling 6-7 3-4 Hewitt
15 unforced errors from Soderling so far, seven from Hewitt. Story of the contest in a stat. How's the Swede going to get back into this?

Soderling 6-7 3-3 Hewitt *
Bec Cartwright, Madame Hewitt, looking very Michelle Phillips 1968 in the VIP seats - centre parting, tendrils over each ear, possibly tie-dyed vest. Her beau has a chance here - break point at last, dominating the rally, space, so much space cross-court... whoa-woh-woh, dragged into the net. What an opportunity. Two big serves later Soderling has hung on - a set and break down would have meant trouble with a capital T.

* Soderling 6-7 2-3 Hewitt
Chance there for Soderling, creating space to the backhand side with an angled forehand the other way that drahs Hewitt out wide, but he pings the follow-up into the tramlines. Story of his match so far - curiously unconvincing, seldom touching the levels you'd expect from a man with Federer's backing.

Soderling 6-7 2-2 Hewitt *
Double-fisted backhand down the line from Soderling for a winner. No sign of a break, or even a break point, on either man's serve so far. Soderling has won six of his last seven matches against Aussie opponents, the sole defeat coming in 2009 against... Lleyton Hewitt.


* Soderling 6-7 1-2 Hewitt
Always thought there's something of soap actor James Redmond in Soderling. Hewitt, face with that chippy, aggressive expression as ever, holds to 15 within minimal fuss.

Soderling 6-7 1-1 Hewitt *
Hold to love by Soderling in the time it takes you to read this sentence.

* Soderling 6-7 0-1 Hewitt
Hewitt clearly taking great pleasure in that unexpected outcome, and the Fanatics are in full voice. A little more restrained in the Royal Box, where we're somewhat short on big names. Martin Corry, anyone? Colin Moynihan? Nope, thought not. * denotes next server

FIRST SET
Soderling 6-7 Hewitt
Now then. Long from Hewitt as we start off on serve, and then a splendid exchange of groundstrokes - poetry in motion, that, the backswings long, the contacts sweet. Soderling needs to come in here - he has Hewitt struggling, but he leaves it too late - hopeless volley, lobbed with elan by the old stager. 3-4 as Hewitt's serve out wide is too hot to handle; 4-4 as the situations reverse. Come on, Robbo, get in to the net - no, can't be bothered, pays the price as Hewitt wriggles off the hook deep and takes control of the set. Clean topspin forehand winner, but Hewitt has set point - long from Soderling, and the Aussie has nicked it...

Soderling 6-6 Hewitt
Slim opening for Soderling here at 30-30, no, feeble backhand into the net. That's more like it - forehand whipped cross court, deuce - but two backhands drift long. The Swede will challenge both - the first is confirmed as long by Hawk Eye, the second bang on the line. Humiliation for the unhappy line-judge. Oh, chance down the line, but Soderling's missed that by an inch, and then spanks a loose forehand into the net. Breaker it is...

Soderling 6-5 Hewitt *
Strange, spooning backhand from Soderling that is scooped wide. No matter - Hewitt can only help two returns into the net. Tie-break steer? Soderling has won 12 and lost seen this year; Hewitt has won two and lost four. Omen.

* Soderling 5-5 Hewitt
Long, exaggerated pull-back from Hewitt on his serve, and a fearsome exchange of following forehands ends with Soderling drilling an attempted backhand winner into the highest part of the net. Tie-break, anyone?

Soderling 5-4 Hewitt *
Soderling, imperious on his serve so far, holds to love. Ninth consecutive Wimbledon for the tall Swede, his best finish so far the quarter-finals last year. Nadal the man who ended his march 12 months ago.

* Soderling 4-4 Hewitt
Hello - first bit of pressure on the Lleyton serve, Soderling lacing a forehand right down the line. Long with the next one - fist-pump from Hewitt, possibly a little premature - and a long, cautious rally that's far more clay than grass ends with Soderling putting his forehand too deep once again.



Soderling 4-3 Hewitt *
Lovely rhythm on the Soderling serve, a long, lazy ball toss, a hammering right arm coming over and through. Rare double fault, just to teach me not to go too lyrical, but then a don't-move doen the middle.

* Soderling 3-3 Hewitt
Hewitt has reached at least the round of 16 in each of the last seven years here at Wimbledon, and he looks every bit as at home as you'd expect - straightforward hold, level pegs.

Soderling 3-2 Hewitt *
16 minutes in, and no dramas at all on serve so far. Muted out there with the exception of the two yellow wedges of Fanatics. There's the man to light the fuse - Ilie Nastase, the Captain Caveman of the 1970s tennis scene, uncharacteristically calm in the Royal Box.

* Soderling 2-2 Hewitt
Strange to have Hewitt here as world no.130. It's his lowest ranking since October 1998, and he's also won just two of his last 24 matches against top ten opposition. Ominous.

Soderling 2-1 Hewitt *
Hewitt as ever in that trademark back-to-front baseball cap. At 30 years of age he'll stick with it to the end of his playing days now - hell, he'll be be wearing it when he's racing round an old people's home at the age of 90. Soderling finds a big serve of his own - 133mph - and the early sorties are cautious.

* Soderling 1-1 Hewitt
Nine long years now since Hewitt was crowned Wimbledon champion. Some have called 2002 a soft year, wedged as it was between the epochs of Pistol Pete and Royal Roger, and with only David Nalbandian to be beaten in the final, but I'd whisper that very quietly indeed around Camp Hewitt. Soderling to the net to punch away into the corner, and then an exchange of raking forehands ends with Hewitt duffing his into the net. Deuce. Ace out wide, slicing away, and another down the middle.

Soderling 1-0 Hewitt *
The fifth meeting between the two, this, with Hewitt leading the head-to-heads 3-1. Two of those were back in 2004, however, when Soders was a mere 19 years old and a very, very different player. Standard hold from the Swede as we begin to a muted atmosphere. * denotes next server

1301: Where are the Fanatics? Ah, there they are - two rows of staunch Hewitt supporters, clad as always in the green and gold. All set?

1255: So here we are - Robin Soderling v Lleyton Hewitt, a curious choice for Centre in the eyes of some, perhaps, but not Roger Federer - while the rest of us have been banging on about the four men who can win the title this year, Sir Rog of Fed has been insisting that the Swede is a very real fifth.


1250: Cycling in this morning, sun pinking the neck, I smiled to myself and thought, aha, now the sun's finally shining, Wimbledon truly feels like it has hit its stride. A few hours later it's black as sin overhead, the roof on Centre is closed and my decision to debut shorts for the first time all championship seems a heinous error.


All times in BST.



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see also
Wimbledon day four as it happened
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Wimbledon day four photos
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Roddick & Del Potro make progress
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Brilliant Lisicki knocks out Li
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Serena battles to three-set win
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Men's singles results
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Women's singles results
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Women's singles draw
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Order of play
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