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.

Söderling kicks off Aussie Open run with win

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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Swedish tennis star hopes for comeback

Robin Söderling, the former world number four sidelined by illness for nearly two years, has said that he still hopes to return to the tennis circuit.

Swedish tennis star hopes for comeback

“I will come back when I feel 100 percent but I don’t know when. That’s how it is, unfortunately,” Söderling told tabloid Aftonbladet.

Söderling – the only man to have beaten Spain’s eight-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal on the clay at Roland Garros – has not played in competition since the Swedish Open tournament in July 2011.

Since then he has been hit by a series of health problems, including glandular fever, which is still affecting him.

The 28-year-old, who turned professional in 2001, told Aftonbladet that he was not yet fit enough to endure the rigours of competition tennis at the highest level.

“It’s hard to recover at a snail’s pace,” he explained.

“In the beginning it was difficult. When I went to bed every night, I told myself: perhaps I’ll be better tomorrow. That lasted a week, a month… I got another perspective on the passage of time.”

The Swede said he has made enough money during his career so far not to have to worry about working again.

According to the website, Söderling has won more than $10.4 million in prize money in singles and doubles.

“It’s an extraordinary feeling to be able to choose what you do, rather than having to do it. I’ve been spoiled,” he said.

AFP/The Local/nr Follow The Local on Twitter