Davydenko to take on trouble in Soderling match-up

By Bill Scott, IANS
Friday, February 12, 2010

ROTTERDAM - Nikolay Davydenko and Robin Soderling both claimed easy victories as they set up a semi-final between hot rivals at the ABN-AMRO World Tennis.

With number one Novak Djokovic through to the last four a day earlier thanks to the withdrawal of injured Florian Mayer, second seed Davydenko and number three Soderling did their part Friday for seeded symmetry.

French fourth seed Gael Monfils failed to complete a Top four lineup as he went down in a three-hour marathon to sixth seed and 2007 champion Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.

The Russian will next face Djokovic.

Davydenko took charge to put out Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2 in his quarter-final, lifting his record in that series to 6-1 with a 75-minute effort capped with six aces and a rock-solid attack.

Third seed Soderling pronounced his mini-slump of 2010 over after a crushing 6-0, 6-1 win over Frenchman Julien Benneteau.

“It may have looked easy but it really wasn’t,” said the Swede who leads Davydenko 6-4 in their career series.

“It’s tough to say what to improve when you win like this, but I can improve parts of my game. I was lucky to get off to a fast start in the match.

“You can’t think about the opponent’s feelings - he would do exactly the same thing to me. Once you are up you have to stay really concentrated.”

Davydenko, who withdrew from consideration as a wild card for Marseille next week to have treatment on a minor foot problem, admitted that he struggles with Soderling.

“He’s difficult for me,” said the Russian who won the 2009 year-end title in London. “Our last three matches have all been indoors. He’s good from the baseline and fast. It’s really difficult for me to feel like a favourite against him. All of our matches have been struggles, usually three sets.”

Soderling blew through to the final four in just over an hour with five breaks of serve against Benneteau, ranked 38th.

The winner improved to 7-2 in Rotterdam, where he played the final two years ago against Frenchman Michael Llodra.

Soderling said that losing in the first rounds of his only two ATP matches on January in Chennai and Melbourne could have been a blessing in disguise.

“I went home and I was finally able to rest, that was what I had needed after a long 2009 season. “This is the first time in months that I’ve felt like I was playing my best.

“I played much better today, my game feels like it’s going in the right way. I’ve finally started feeling good and just hope it gets better and better.”

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