Söderling kicks off Aussie Open run with win

AFP/The Local
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Söderling kicks off Aussie Open run with win

World number four Robin Söderling credits a more relaxed approach for turning around his Grand Slam performances and raised hopes of going deep in the draw at the Australian Open after winning his first match.


Fourth seed Söderling achieved his first objective by safely negotiating the opening round after he dispatched Italy's Potito Starace, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 for only his third win in six matches at the season-opening major.

Söderling is a much-improved player as a runner-up at the last two French Opens and quarter-final appearances at last year's Wimbledon and US Open.

The Australian Open represents Soderling's worst Grand Slam of the four and he equalled his best result by reaching the second round on Tuesday, where he will now play Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.

However, Söderling is coming into this year's Australian Open in career-best form and looked the part as he swept put the 48th-ranked Starace in one hour and 34 minute on Margaret Court Arena.

"I had some problems with the Grand Slam tournaments in the beginning of my career. It's over two weeks and you always have one match, then you have the next day rest, so it's tough to stay focused for two full weeks," he said.

"Every day, you have to be able to relax between matches and I think that's what I have learned over the last couple of years. I think that's why I had more success in these tournaments," he added.

Söderling said he is now relaxed and rested between his matches.

"You spend a lot of energy in five-set matches, even if you win in straight sets and you really have to recover between the matches. I do it really good now," he said.

Söderling has reached the quarter-finals or better at the last three Grand Slam events for the first time. He began the new season with a win over Andy Roddick in the final of the Brisbane International, which led to him reclaiming the fourth world ranking.

"I'm not fearing anyone. I know that when I play well, I can beat everyone. But the same time, I really have to play well because last year it really showed, when I didn't play well at all and I lost in the first round," he said.

"You really have to stay focused in every match. For me that's the most important thing," he added.


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