Ahead of Saturday’s possible doubles decider Sweden now lead last year’s finalists 2-0 after Thomas Johansson beat David Nalbandian 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 7-6 (7/0) to give Sweden the early lead on Friday.
The 32-year-old Johansson required nearly four hours to beat Nalbandian, seven years his junior, in a match where the first two sets were hotly-contested.
Nalbandian dominated the first set tiebreak after they traded breaks during the set, using his powerful service to good effect. However Johansson managed to level the tie at a set apiece mainly thanks to him finding his own service form.
Johansson rained down a total of 33 aces to Nalbandian’s 18, and thrashed the Argentinian in the fourth set tiebreak 7-0.
Söderling had an easier path to tread than his compatriot, taking just two and a half hours to claim victory over his teenaged rival.
The first two sets were almost carbon copies. Both were well-balanced and punctuated with an almost equal amount of unforced errors, and both were won
7/4 by Söderling in the tie break.
However the third set saw the 22-year-old Söderling move up a gear, sending the ball from side to side and giving 18-year-old Del Potro plenty of running to do.
The Argentine, a replacement for Guillermo Canas, battled hard to save two match points but was eventually outplayed by the more experienced Swede.
On Saturday Sweden have a chance to book their semi-final place even before Sunday’s concluding two rubbers when Jonas Björkman and Robert Lindstedt face David Nalbandian and Sebastian Prieto in the doubles.