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SÖDERLING

Söderling struggles out of US Open first round

Swedish fifth seed Robin Söderling struggled for nearly four hours in the first round of the US Open on Monday before defeating a 214th-ranked qualifier.

Söderling struggles out of US Open first round

Söderling squandered four match points in the third set before outlasting Austria’s Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 5-7, 6-4 after three hours and 52 minutes.

Haider-Maurer, a 23-year-old who fired 34 aces past the first top-10 foe of his career, nearly made Soderling pay for not finishing him early in the afternoon heat.

“It was a tough match in tough conditions,” Soderling said. “It’s better to win it in five than lose it in five.”

Söderling fell behind 4-1, but won six of the last seven games in the first set and seized a 4-1 edge en route to taking the second set as well.

Haider-Maurer saved four match points in the third set and jumped to a 6-1 lead in the tie-break to force a fourth set. When Söderling netted a forehand smash to surrender a break and the fourth set, he was pushed to the brink.

“Definitely I had a strong chance,” Haider-Maurer said.

Söderling broke in the fifth game of the final set and served out for the triumph, although Haider-Maurer hit 58 winners to Söderling’s 44 and made 65 unforced errors to 74 by the Swede, who felt fine despite the endurance test.

“I feel pretty good physically. I had almost four good hours of practice. That wasn’t so bad,” said Söderling. “I can play better. I’ve played worse.”

Next in Söderling’s path to his first US Open semi-final is American Taylor Dent, who ousted Colombian Alejandro Falla 6-4, 7-5, 6-1.

“I think I’ve showed that I can go very deep in every Grand Slam,” said Söderling. “But you’ve to play well. I can’t just go on court and not fight and not play well. Then you will lose.”

Söderling is the highest-ranked obstacle in second seed Roger Federer’s path to the semi-finals. French Open runner-up Söderling knocked off Federer in the Roland Garros quarter-finals, ending the Swiss star’s run of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances.

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TENNIS

Swedish star officially retires from tennis

Sweden's Robin Söderling has announced he is hanging up his tennis racket, more than four years since his last match.

Swedish star officially retires from tennis
Swedish tennis player Robin Söderling. Photo: Robin Halldert/TT

“I have realized that I will not be fit enough to play tennis at the level I demand of myself,” said Söderling, 31, to the Swedish news agency TT.

Söderling fell ill with glandular fever in the summer of 2011, but he did not realize the seriousness of his sickness and continued to train, although he struggled physically.

He described his condition as “overtraining syndrome” and said in a press release that “with this disease it has been impossible for me to train 100 percent”.

Söderling reached the final of the French Open in both 2009 and 2010, before rising to a career-high fourth in the world rankings in late 2010.

His greatest moment was perhaps inflicting on clay court king Rafael Nadal his first ever defeat at the French Open in 2009.

In fact, until the Spaniard lost to world number one Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros quarter-finals earlier this year, that remained his only defeat on the Parisian clay in 71 matches.

“Although my career as a tennis player is over I still have a bright future ahead of me and my schedule for the next few years is full,” said Söderling, who won 10 titles in his career.