Soderling wins Rotterdam re-run with Youzhny

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ROTTERDAM - Top seed Robin Soderling won a repeat of last year’s final at the ABN-AMRO World Tennis defeating Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 7-6(5).

The victory puts the Swede into a Saturday semi-final against Viktor Troicki, who beat Marin Cilic 7-5, 6-3 here Friday.

The relatively straightforward win came a day after the Swede struggled into the quarter-finals, forced to save a match point in that victory against Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Against sixth seed Youzhny, Soderling won his 12th Rotterdam match and his fifth in a row over the Russian. Youzhny saved a match point in the 12th game of the second set before Soderling won in a tiebreak.

“The second set could have gone either way,” said the fifth-ranked Swede. “I had to play well today and I did.

“I’ve had to fight for all of my matches this week, the margins were so small. I had to fight tonight but I felt strong in the important moments.”

Youzhny won the Dutch trophy in 2007 before losing to Soderling in the 2010 final as he quit injured in the second set.

Also Friday, Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic posted a battling 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-4) defeat of Marcos Baghdatis for his fourth career semi-final at the tournament.

It is the best showing at the event for the 31-year-old in four years: Ljubicic also played finals in 2005 and 2007, losing six years ago to Roger Federer and going down two years later to Youzhny.

Ljubicic needed almost two and a half hours to earn a reassuring win over Baghdatis, who had beaten him in four of five previous meetings.

“It was a strange match, I knew I had to take a lot of risk,” said Ljubicic, holder of 10 career singles trophies and now 17-8 in Rotterdam.

“It was a great win for me after losing four times before to him, it was nice to show my best tennis.”

Ljubicic will play well-rested Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who advanced in a walkover when Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych could not play due to illness. Ljubicic holds a 2-1 edge over Tsonga in their career series.

“I’ll have plenty of time to rest. I know we will both go for our shots, it should be a great match,” said the number 15-ranked Ljubicic.

While Ljubicic is surely hoping for a Sunday title victory, the success could cost him if he upholds a vow he made six years ago and renewed on Friday. Should he take the title he will buy every one of the 10,000 fans in the stands a drink.

“It’s a long way but I’m sticking to my promise,” said Ljubicic, who fired 18 aces in his win over Baghdatis.

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