Söderling serves up big win for Brisbane title
AFP/The Local · 9 Jan 2011, 09:51
Published: 09 Jan 2011 09:51 GMT+01:00
Söderling turned in a brilliant display of powerful serving and crushing groundstrokes in cool and damp conditions to see off a gallant Roddick 6-3, 7-5 and claim the seventh title of his career.
While Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are hot favourites to fight out the first Grand Slam of the year later this month, Söderling's performance in Brisbane suggests he has leapfrogged Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic as the man most likely to upset the big two in Melbourne.
The Swede has already beaten Nadal and Federer in Grand Slam tournaments, downing Nadal in 2009 and Federer in 2010, both at Roland Garros.
"I am playing really well and what makes me really happy is that I've never really played well in Australia before," Söderling said.
"But now I've won a tournament here and I'm playing really good tennis, which makes me happy and gives me a lot of confidence for Melbourne.
"I've had the best possible preparation I could have -- five good matches here and then I'll have a week of practice and preparation in Melbourne and I'll be more than ready to go."
Söderling, who will rise to No.4 in the world as a result of the win, lost only one service game in the tournament, during Saturday's semi-final win over Radek Stepanek.
He served 49 aces during the week, including 16 in the final, but sent down countless other unplayable first serves.
His serving was so effective against Roddick that the American didn't get a break point opportunity in the entire match, Söderling losing just nine points on serve in 11 games.
By contrast, Roddick had to scrap hard to hold his own serve almost every time.
He cracked once in each set, but that was enough to see Söderling through to a hard-fought victory.
Roddick was by no means disgraced, the American fighting hard despite the brilliance of his opponent. But there was simply nothing he could do against an adversary playing at the very peak of his powers.
"He served great, conditions were heavy and he served through it better -- he was able to flatten out his serve better and I think that was the difference," Roddick said.
Very much a crowd favourite in Brisbane, Roddick agreed earlier this week to donate one hundred dollars for every ace he served to the Queensland flood relief.
With 54 aces, that amounted to five thousand, four hundred dollars, but during the trophy presentation Roddick announced to a cheering crowd that he would double that figure.
That gesture continued the philanthropic tradition of the Brisbane International -- last year women's champion Kim Clijsters donated her entire winnings to a Brisbane children's hospital.