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TENNIS

Söderling sets up French Open clash with old foe Nadal

Sweden's Robin Söderling set up a quarter-final clash with old rival Rafael Nadal after easing past Gilles Simon in the French Open on Monday.

Söderling has been something of a bogeyman for Nadal, since having inflicted a single shock defeat at Roland Garros for the Spaniard in the fourth round in 2009, before Nadal gained revenge in the 2010 final.

Five-time champion Rafael Nadal reached the quarter-finals on Monday with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 win over Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic.

It was another low-key display by the top-seeded Spaniard against the veteran Ljubicic before he took his Paris record to 42 wins and just one loss.

Big-swinging Swedish fifth seed Soderling meanwhile made light work of the French 18th seed Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

Nadal, bidding for a sixth French Open title to take him level with Björn Borg’s record, has looked a shadow of his usual powerful self in Paris, shaken by the super-charged form of Novak Djokovic.

The 24-year-old has cut a world-weary figure both on and off the court, complaining he sometimes feels as if he’s been on tour for “100 years”, is a champion under pressure.

World number two Novak Djokovic, on a staggering 43-match unbeaten run, is tipped to take the Spaniard’s Paris title, as well as the number one ranking, after picking up the Australian Open and six other titles this year.

“I am not playing enough well to win this tournament. That’s the truth,” said Nadal, who needs one more French Open to equal Björn Borg’s record of six.

“You have to be realistic. But I have won here five times already. I don’t have an obligation to win six.”

His mood would not have been improved by knowing that the Serbian second

seed was excused quarter-final duty when scheduled opponent Fabio Fognini of

Italy withdrew with a torn left thigh muscle.

Robin Söderling, who needed a fifth match point to defeat Simon for the sixth time in eight meetings, meanwhile said he feels inspired every time he comes back to

Paris.

“I have good memories of this tournament. I have won a lot of great matches here and I get a great feeling every time I come back,” he said.

French ninth seed Gael Monfils, a 2008 semi-finalist, set-up a last-eight

clash with third seed Roger Federer after defeating Spain’s David Ferrer 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 1-6, 8-6.

Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela shattered Alejandro Falla’s dreams of becoming the first Colombian man to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final with a 4-6, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 win.

He will face either British fourth seed Andy Murray, who is carrying an ankle injury, or Serbia’s 15th seed Victor Troicki for a place in the semi-finals.

Murray recovered from two sets to love down to pull level with the Serbian Davis Cup winner when darkness halted their tie which will be played to a finish on Tuesday.

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SPORT

Björn Borg’s son Leo set to make his Wimbledon debut

Four decades after Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg won a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, his 16-year-old son Leo Borg is reportedly set to make his debut at the tournament.

Björn Borg's son Leo set to make his Wimbledon debut
Leo Borg's Wimbledon debut is yet to be officially confirmed. Photo: Hanna Franzén/TT

According to reports in British tabloid The Sun and Swedish tabloid Expressen, Borg will be awarded a wildcard to play in the Wimbledon junior event.

“Leo is very grateful about getting a wildcard for the qualifiers to junior Wimbledon,” Björn Borg told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

“It will be an incredible experience and useful practice for the future,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the Wimbledon tournament did not want to confirm the decision, only saying that wildcard announcements and the main draw for the Juniors tournament would be made next week.

If confirmed, Leo Borg’s Wimbledon debut comes 39 years after Björn Borg defeated American rival John McEnroe, winning him his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

The iconic match has been called one of the greatest matches of all time and the story was adapted for the screen in the 2017 feature film Borg vs McEnroe, where Leo, bearing a striking resemblance to his fatther, played a younger version of Björn Borg.

During the 1970s and early 1980s Björn Borg won a total of 11 Grand Slam titles, five Wimbledons and six French Opens.


Björn Borg after winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title in 1980. Photo: Scanpix/TT

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