Söderling aces his way to Stockholm Open final

Swedish fourth seed Robin Söderling use home advantage and a total of 13 aces to force his way into the final of the Stockholm Open on Sunday. He faces Argentina's David Nalbandian.

Söderling aces his way to Stockholm Open final

In their respective semi-finals Saturday the pair scored crushing victories, however Söderling goes into the final knowing that he has lost to Nalbandian in four of their five encounters.

The Argentine top seed hammered two-time finalist Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-2, 6-1 while fourth seed Soderling needed just 44 minutes to dispatch talented Japanese teenager Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-0.

Söderling barely broke sweat against Japanese teenager Kei Nishikori, with the Swede now looking to improve against Nalbandian after earning his only win in their series three years ago on clay in Hamburg.

The Swede fired 13 aces in his way through the semi-final.

Nishikori, who has risen well over 200 ranking places this breakthrough season, will take next week off but hopes to compete in Basel and Paris Bercy if a minor knee problem clears up as expected.

The youngster who will rise into the 60s from Monday on the ATP said he is feeling tired from action last week at home in Tokyo.

“I’ve had knee pain all week, but it’s nothing serious,” said Nishikori, the winner of a first title last February in Delray Beach. “I will just rest it.”

“I felt the knee on long points and sometimes when I hit, but that’s not why I lost. He played too well – I couldn’t do anything.”

Nalbandian – gearing up for next month’s Davis Cup final in Mar del Plate against Spain – was playing as the first Argentine in the semi-finals at Stockholm’s Royal Tennis Hall since Guillermo Canas in 2001.

The world number 7 showed no mercy against Nieminen, the third seed who lost title matches in 2001 and 2006 here.

“I really played good today, like I’ve done all week,” said Nalbandian. “I hope to keep going like this tomorrow as well.

“It was not easy for Jarkko when I’m playing like this, I was hitting winners everywhere. I like indoors, the conditions are perfect.”

Nalbandian broke three times in the opening set while dropping his own serve once but took charge in the second to deny number 33 Nieminen a return to a Top 30 rankings.

The Argentine won his only other trophy of 2008 eight months ago on clay in Buenos Aires and finished runner-up a week later in Acapulco against Nicolas Almagro.

Nalbandian improved to 33-13 this season as he earned his 13th victory on hardcourts.


Del Potro defends Stockholm Open title for 20th career crown

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro won the Stockholm Open for the second year in a row on Sunday.

Del Potro defends Stockholm Open title for 20th career crown
Juan Martin del Potro. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Del Potro beat Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday to retain his Stockholm ATP title.

He thereby climbs to 14th in the race to the end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals in London while Dimitrov, who was top seed in Sweden, sits in fifth place.

The 29-year-old Argentine served nine aces and remained unbroken in a display of power to cruise past the Bulgarian in 1hr 25mins.

“I played the best match of the week against Grigor today,” Del Potro said.

“It’s amazing to come back and hold this big trophy. And hopefully I can come next year as well.”

After an injury-hit late season Del Potro made the Shanghai semi-finals last week before clinching his first title of the season on the indoor hard courts and the 20th of his career.

The Stockholm Open was first held in 1969 and has been played every year since.