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TENNIS

Söderling survives to set up Nadal clash

Swedish sixth seed Robin Söderling overcame ninth seed David Ferrer in an epic five sets battle on Monday to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Söderling survives to set up Nadal clash
Photo: Mark Baker/AP/Scanpix (file)

Söderling triumphed 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 against the classy Spaniard to set up a last eight clash with old foe, world number one Rafael Nadal.

The 25-year-old could be forgiven for wanting to have avoided another meeting with Nadal just weeks after the Spaniard defeated him in the French Open final.

The Spanish second seed booked his place in the quarters with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, win over France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu on Monday, easing concerns over his fitness.

Nadal, who won that Roland Garros showdown to clinch his fifth French crown, has been bothered by a knee injury since arriving at the All England Club last week and he has needed pain killers and physiotherapy to keep the problem at bay.

Nadal fights a constant battle with his knees after tendinitis forced him to miss Wimbledon last year, but he has vowed to play through the pain barrier in his clash with Söderling who has been in fine form at the grass-court Grand Slam after winning his first three matches without dropping a set.

Faced with an formidable opponent like Ferrer, the Swede could call on his accurate serve and over-powering ground-strokes to win the key points as he reached the last eight here for the first time.

Nadal and Söderling have plenty of history on the tour and the tie promises to be an explosive encounter.

Söderling once irritated Nadal by mimicking his habit of pulling at his shorts before serving, as well as imitating his slow build-up to each point.

Nadal made it clear he was not happy with the perceived insult, although he insists he has not had any problems with Söderling since.

“I had a little bit of a problem (with Söderling) in this tournament a few years ago. After that I never had any problem with him,” Nadal said.

Nadal will go into the match as favourite after drubbing Söderling in three sets in the French Open final recently, but the Swede can point to his win at the same venue 12 months ago as proof that the Spaniard can be beaten.

While Nadal knows it will be harder to beat Söderling on grass than clay, he has no doubts he can advance to the last four.

“I think the match is completely different (to the French Open final) because it’s on grass than on clay,” Nadal said.

“His game is good on every surface but it is probably even more difficult to stop him here, because the ball goes faster and it is going to be very difficult to return and difficult to stop him from the baseline.”

“I think he’s playing with big confidence and a big serve. So he’s playing great. It is going to be a very difficult match for me I think. But hopefully for him, too.”

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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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