Soderling starts with a win, Ferrer eliminated in Rotterdam

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ROTTERDAM - Defending champion Robin Soderling made a storming start to his title defence at the ABN-AMRO World Tennis as he crushed Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3, 6-2.

The Swede, who has contested the last two finals at Roland Garros, came good Tuesday after his early exit at the Australian Open, when he was upset by Ukrainian Alexandr Dolopolov in the fourth round.

The number four will next play German Philipp Kohlschreiber, a winner over Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

Local wild card Haase was totally outclassed by the top seed in a match that did not even last one hour.

His Melbourne loss aside, Soderling has had a solid start to 2011, now standing 9-1. Tuesday’s victory marked his tenth win in Rotterdam, where he beat Mikhail Youzhny for the 2010 honours.

Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen scored an upset as he eliminated Australian Open semi-finalist David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4.

The third-seeded Spaniard who knocked out Rafael Nadal in the Melbourne quarter-finals was unable to mount a fightback from 3-1 up in the second set against Nieminen after losing the opener.

Ferrer, ranked sixth, now stands 9-2 on the season following his defeat against the player he had to fight to put out in the Melbourne first round. Nieminen also beat the Spaniard in 2001 at the Challenger level.

Nieminen, 43rd, next faces Serb Viktor Troicki. The win was the first for the Finn since Doha in early January.

Two other seeds went through in their opening matches, with number seven Ivan Ljubicic defeating Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 and French eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcoming Bulgarian talent Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4.

The teenager, ranked 86th, saved a Tsonga match point in the penultimate game of the 75-minute contest, after Tsonga began making amends following an Australian Open loss where he squandered a two-sets-to-one lead against Alexandr Dolgopolov.

“I had a big day on serve, I am pleased with that,” Tsonga said.

“They call my opponent ‘Baby Federer’ but there is a huge difference between the two,” the Frenchman, who produced 11 aces in victory, added. “Federer doesn’t give you any chances. Grigor did a lot of double faults (six) and gave away some easy points.”

German Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

Second seed Andy Murray, losing Melbourne finalist to Novak Djokovic, will open Wednesday against Marcos Baghdatis.

Murray said Tuesday that despite his second straight losing final in Melbourne, he had always planned to play in Rotterdam.

“I had always planned on playing here, Australia was a good start to the year,” said the losing finalist at the last two Melbourne finals.

“I would have liked to have gone one win further but I am looking forward to the year ahead,” the fifth-ranked Scot added.

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