Söderling cruises into second round at Stockholm Open
AFP/The Local · 22 Oct 2009, 07:10
Published: 22 Oct 2009 07:10 GMT+02:00
The top seed, who is playing for the first time in his career as a member of the ATP Top ten, can lift his chances of reaching one of the last two spots in the eight-man World Tour Finals with a title at the weekend.
He stands provisional ninth, trailing Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Spain's Fernando Verdasco in the race to the eight-man wrap-up starting November 22.
On Monday, Söderling became the first Swede since Jonas Svensson in 1991 to figure in the ranking elite; the 17th from his country in a run began by Björn Borg in 1973.
Söderling is also bidding to become the first from his nation since Mats Wilander in 1983 to complete the Swedish double - winning titles at both Bastad and Stockholm the same season.
"It would be a great thing," that's for sure," said number 10 Söderling, the Roland Garros finalist. "I love playing at home.
"I don't really feel any extra pressure, I just know the fans are willing me on," said the Monte Carlo-based player, who only visits his native land for tennis duties.
Söderling improved to 43-18 on the season as he moved into a second-round match with Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who beat German Simon Greul 6-3, 7-5.
Second seed Tommy Haas and number eight Feliciano Lopez put aside last week's injury dramas in Asia as the pair of seeds returned to apparent robust health with wins.
Both joined Söderling in straight-set success at the Kungligahallen with neither man requiring more than an hour on court.
Haas, who withdrew after one losing set against Rainer Schuettler last week in the Shanghai second round, showed perfect fitness as he crushed 17 aces in 55 minutes in his 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Frenchman Florent Serra.
Lopez moved through nicely four days after pulling up lame in the Shanghai semis to hand Rafael Nadal a 6-1, 3-0 result, and was light on his feet in a defeat of Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 6-4.