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TENNIS

Söderling cruises into French Open semi final

Robin Söderling, the Swedish tennis star who ended Rafael Nadal's remarkable unbeaten run at Roland Garros, took another step towards French Open glory on Tuesday with a straight set victory over Russian Nikolay Davydenko.

Söderling cruises into French Open semi final

Söderling marched into his first ever Grand Slam semi-final with a superb 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 win in Paris on Tuesday.

Söderling, the 23rd seed and world number 25, will play either British third seed Andy Murray or Chile’s 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez for a place in the final.

The 24-year-old shocked the sporting world by inflicting a first ever Roland Garros defeat on four-time champion Nadal on Sunday and becomes the first Swedish French Open semi-finalist since his coach Magnus Norman in 2000.

“I didn’t have a very easy draw,” said Söderling, who also overcame Spanish 14th seed David Ferrer in the third round.

“I’ve played three good claycourt players and I’ve played three very good matches, so my confidence is getting better and better.

“It was maybe easier than I expected (against Davydenko). You expect a tougher match in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, but it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggested.

“I always knew I could play really, really good tennis when I’m on top of my game. But what I’m happiest about is that I’ve played well for many matches in a row, which was maybe missing a few years ago.”

Söderling survived two break points in his opening service game before breaking Davydenko twice in succession, the Russian netting backhands at the critical moment on both occasions.

Davydenko, playing on his 28th birthday, was at times made to look statuesque by Söderling’s strafing groundstrokes and pinpoint returning, with the Swede wrapping up the first set in just 23 minutes.

World number 11 Davydenko, a Roland Garros semi-finalist in 2005 and 2007, saved four break points early in the second set, but Söderling refused to be deterred, finally securing the break in game seven when Davydenko found the net with a forehand.

Söderling’s inspired shot-making continued as he opened up a two-set lead and he totted up yet more sensational winners in an uncompetitive third set to prolong his fairytale run on the Paris clay.

“He surprised me, he played really well,” said Davydenko.

“I tried to play better, to get some control from the baseline and play some long rallies with some top-spin, but he kept making winners. He just played faster.”

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SPORT

Björn Borg’s son Leo set to make his Wimbledon debut

Four decades after Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg won a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, his 16-year-old son Leo Borg is reportedly set to make his debut at the tournament.

Björn Borg's son Leo set to make his Wimbledon debut
Leo Borg's Wimbledon debut is yet to be officially confirmed. Photo: Hanna Franzén/TT

According to reports in British tabloid The Sun and Swedish tabloid Expressen, Borg will be awarded a wildcard to play in the Wimbledon junior event.

“Leo is very grateful about getting a wildcard for the qualifiers to junior Wimbledon,” Björn Borg told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

“It will be an incredible experience and useful practice for the future,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the Wimbledon tournament did not want to confirm the decision, only saying that wildcard announcements and the main draw for the Juniors tournament would be made next week.

If confirmed, Leo Borg’s Wimbledon debut comes 39 years after Björn Borg defeated American rival John McEnroe, winning him his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

The iconic match has been called one of the greatest matches of all time and the story was adapted for the screen in the 2017 feature film Borg vs McEnroe, where Leo, bearing a striking resemblance to his fatther, played a younger version of Björn Borg.

During the 1970s and early 1980s Björn Borg won a total of 11 Grand Slam titles, five Wimbledons and six French Opens.


Björn Borg after winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title in 1980. Photo: Scanpix/TT

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