Second seed Söderling has been in the form of his life and with the UK’s Andy Murray knocked out, he was clearly the man to beat. Going into the semi-final, Söderling had yet to lose a set and nonchalantly dispatched Frenchman Gaël Monfils 6-3, 6-2 in the previous round.
Söderling had won three out of the four meetings with Ferrer this year, but they had won one each from the last two occasions. It was a match as billed between Söderling’s strong serve and volley game and Ferrer’s quality ground strokes, with the Spaniard coming out on top.
Ferrer controlled the majority of the rallies as Söderling made too many errors. Only 55 per cent of his first serves went in as he lost the first set 6-3. Söderling responded immediately, going 2-0 ahead in the second and went on to level the match.
In the final set, errors from both players led to several breaks of serve before Ferrer persevered to win 6-3.
Eighth in the world, fourth seed Ferrer has had a less than spectacular season, but still reached the finals in Rome, Buenos Aires and Acapulco. He needed to make the final in Valencia to qualify for the ATP Masters Cup in London.
At home on clay, Ferrer produced some of his best hard court tennis to beat Italy’s Potito Starace in the quarter-finals and was primed for the challenge of powerful Söderling.
An upset in the second semi-final saw lucky loser Marcel Granollers of Spain beat Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Granollers, ranked 52, came in for the injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and has taken full advantage. He beat Argentina’s Juan Mónaco, Murray’s conqueror, in the last round and has now made it through to the final after out-playing Simon.
The Frenchman has been in good form and beat Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko to reach the semis, but Granollers broke at 3-2 before going on to take the first set and then also came out on top in a scrappy second to win 6-4.