Söderling struggles out of US Open first round

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 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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