Nadal sweeps past Söderling in Abu Dhabi tennis finals

After beating Rafael Nadal in their two previous ATP Tour matches, world number eight Robin Söderling was defeated by the Spanish tennis pro 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 in the final of the Capitala World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Söderling will next head to India for the ATP Chennai Open, which starts on Monday.

Last year, Söderling ended the Nadal’s reign in the French Open and then dumping him in the World Tour finals in London and he was the more aggressive of the two in the opening stages.

“It’s very important to start the season on a winning note and because I haven’t won a tournament for over six months,” said Nadal whose last trophy came in May 2009.

Nadal also paid tribute to Söderling despite the two having enjoyed a stormy relationship in the past.

“He’s a good competitor and has a lot of potential. It’s normal that he should be in the world top 10.”

Nadal had the first two break points of the final at 5-5 only for the big Swede to pull through thanks to some big first serves.

Nadal then also saved two set points from 15-40 down in the following game before forcing the tie-break which he comfortably won 7/3 on the back of some typically stunning defensive work.

Söderling needed to save another break point to avoid going 1-3 down in the second before levelling at 2-2.

But two games later he handed Nadal two more break points with a weak volley at the net and the former world No.1 banked the second of these when the Swede hit wide.

The door was wide open for Nadal, but Söderling belied the tournament’s exhibition status by digging deep to break back in the following game before levelling at 4-4.

The Swede then saved three match points two games later with an angled volley to get to 5-5, but Nadal was by now well on top and he finished off the tiring Swede at 7-5.

Federer took third place in Abu Dhabi, beating Spain’s David Ferrer 6-1, 7-5.

Nadal next heads to nearby Doha where he will open the ATP regular season as second seed to Switzerland’s Roger Federer, while Söderling will fly from Abu Dhabi to Chennai in India, South Asia’s only ATP event.

Söderling is the top seed at the Chennai event, regarded as a warm-up for the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne on January 18.

The 25-year-old Swede will begin his campaign against 100th-ranked American Robby Ginepri, known for a stunning run at the US Open in 2005 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Andre Agassi in five sets.

Söderling faces a possible quarter-final against fifth seed Dudi Sela of Israel, while his semi-final opponent could be the 21st-ranked Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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