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FEDERER

Swedish tennis ace thrilled to coach Federer

Retired Swedish tennis player Stefan Edberg has confessed that he never could have imagined netting the lone coaching job for Swiss superstar Roger Federer at the Toronto Masters this week.

Swedish tennis ace thrilled to coach Federer
Swedish tennis ace Edberg coaching Federer, left. Photo: AP

The 48-year-old Swede is in charge of coaching arrangements in Canada, with Federer's main coach Severin Luthi not attending the ATP event that begins the serious build-up to the US Open in three weeks.

Edberg said that after receiving the call from Federer last December inviting him to join the Swiss player's coaching team, life has changed more than he could have imagined.
   
"It's nothing that I thought that I ever would do, but obviously being around Roger and the way he is as a person on and off court has actually been a very, very good journey so far," said Edberg. "It's been good to see him making some progress this year."
   
Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam winner, dropped a five-set final to Novak Djokovic last month at Wimbledon.
   
"He was very, very close to winning at Wimbledon. There was one or two points that made a difference in that final, which was one of the better finals I have watched in the past in the many, many years.
   
"But that's the way it is in tennis. But I still believe the way he's playing, and if he can keep working and stay healthy, he's got a shot of doing very well here going forward.
   
"It's an important week as well here."

Edberg said that while long-time coach Luthi heads the coaching side, he will get his chance to put some ideas into action in Toronto.
   
"I'm here on my own this week and I think I'm coming with the few ideas how he can handle different things, maybe technically and a few small things," Edberg said.
   
"I can't make that much of a difference, but a little bit of a difference I think I can make. It has been good so far."
   
The stoic Swede said that sitting in the stands and analyzing feels much tougher than actually playing.
   
"In many ways it's worse sitting in the stands, because you can't really do anything sometimes," he said.
   
"You wish you could. Actually it has been OK. You want him to do well and so it's a different feeling, but it's good so far."

Edberg, 48, was a major star in his own right. The serve and volleyer was a world number one who bagged six Grand Slam singles titles and three men's double titles. 

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PARIS

Söderling slays Llodra to set up Paris final

Swedish tennis star Robin Söderling won a gruelling 6-7 (0/7), 7-5, 7-6 (8/6) semi-final to end unseeded Frenchman Michael Llodra's Paris Masters fairytale on Saturday, setting up a final clash with local favourite Gael Monfils.

Söderling slays Llodra to set up Paris final

Söderling, a two-time French Open finalist, had to save three match points at 5-6 down in the third set, with Llodra notably netting a forehand when the Swede was at the net and the court was at his mercy.

Llodra had never previously gone beyond the third round at a Masters event but he fought back from 5-2 down in the decisive tie-break, as a roller-coaster of an encounter reached crescendo after two hours and 49 minutes.

“My God, tennis is frustrating!” said 30-year-old Llodra, who is a member of the France team set to take on Serbia in the Davis Cup final on December 3rd-5th.

“But there you go, I have nothing to reproach myself for. I tried, I gave everything, I wasn’t far away and even though I’m disappointed, there’s still a great opportunity in the Davis Cup final.”

Despite the pain of defeat, the left-hander could console himself with the satisfaction of having produced arguably the best tennis of his career.

Having already beaten world number three Novak Djokovic and world number 11 Nikolay Davydenko en route to the semi-finals, he thrilled the Bercy crowd with his throwback style on Saturday.

His game at the net was particularly impressive and some spectacular volleys enabled him to whitewash Söderling in the first-set tie-break, before the Swede drew level after securing the decisive break in the second set.

Llodra required treatment on blisters in the decider but still had the strength to hit back from 4-2 down to force the tie-break.

Söderling’s victory sends the 26-year-old into the first Masters final of his career and, after final defeats at Roland Garros in 2009 and 2010, he will hope for better luck on the other side of the city.

“I hope that this will be the one,” said Söderling, who declared himself “happy and definitely lucky to have got through”.

Later on Saturday Söderling learned that Gael Monfils is to be his opponent in ATP Paris Masters final, after the French 12th seed stunned top seed Roger Federer 7-6 (9/7), 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/4).

Monfils fought back from 4-1 down in the third set to reach the final at the Bercy arena for the second year in succession, following his defeat by Novak Djokovic last year.

Monfils had lost all five of his previous meetings with world number two Federer, but he took a well contested first set when the Swiss superstar netted a forehand at 7-8 down in the tie-break.

The second set was every bit as tight as the first, but Federer managed to level the match after sweeping his way imperiously through the tie-break.

The game appeared up for Monfils in the third set as he fell 4-1 down, but the world number 14, roared on by a typically boisterous Bercy crowd, dug deep to see off five match points and scrap his way into the final

“I went to the limits of myself,” said a jubilant and exhausted Monfils.

“I feel better and better as the tournament goes on. I ran out of juice a little bit at the start of the third set but the fans were there, they pushed me and I kept believing.”

Federer, who is still to reach a Paris Masters final, was guilty of several uncharacteristic errors when the match appeared his for the taking and must now steel himself for an assault on the year-end ATP World Tour Finals in London.

“There were two pretty extraordinary matches today,” said Federer.

“We could have had a Llodra-Federer final and it turned into a Monfils-Söderling final. What’s disappointing is that I was in control of the situation with a break up in the third set.”

“Of course it hurts. On one of the match points I had the whole court open and I couldn’t put it in, a bit like Llodra in his match.”

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