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2010 French Open Semifinal - As it happened: Robin Soderling (No.5 SWE) v Tomas Berdych (No.15 CZE)

Posted on June 4, 2010 at 7:04 PM

16:48 Post-match This was always going to be a big serving contest – it’s a rare match where one of Soderling’s opponents puts him in the shade in that department. Berdych served up 21 aces to the Swede’s 18 but the No.5 seed was more consistent where it counted, nailing 59 percent of first serves to 48 percent by Berdych over the course of the five sets. There was less scintillating shot-making from either man than we’ve been used to seeing this fortnight but Soderling still managed to notch up 83 clean winners to 64 from Berdych.

16:44 Post-match Soderling: “It was very tough, I felt a bit unlucky in second set. I had some chances but he played very well when it mattered. It's unbelievable. When I came here I was thinking about the first round and getting past that and seeing what happened and now, two weeks later, I am in the final. It's the best dream ever. I’m sure it’s going to be a really tough match whoever I play in the final.”

16:39 Game, set, match, Soderling 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-3 At last we catch a glimpse of the shot-making that got Soderling this far at the 2010 French Open. He hits a running forehand passing shot by the volleying Berdych and takes the first point of the Czech's service game. Consecutive backhand errors from the No.5 seed and it's back to 30-15, Berdych. Soderling batters a forehand into Berdych's backhand corner and it's 30-30. Then the Czech nets a rallying slice backhand and, after three hours and 26-minutes we have our first match point. Soderling doesn't need asking twice. The emotional Swede advances to his second-consecutive French Open final when Berdych steers a backhand drive wide of the trams.

16:38 Ffith set: Soderling 5-3 After an early wobble, when he trails 0-30, Soderling rallies and holds serve. He stands within a game of claiming a place in Sunday's men's singles final.

16:31 Fifth set: Soderling 4-3 Finally, some searching service returns from Soderling into Berdych's backhand corner and he stands 30-0 on the Czech's serve. He drifts a backhand slice off a short ball past net-rushing Berdych and onto the line for three break points. He fluffs the first, netting an easy forehand drive. The second break point is handed to him when Berdych nets his own backhand. A huge break of serve to the Swedish No.5 seed.

16:28 Fifth set: 3-3 Someone needs to find some good service returns or we're going to be here all night. At 40-15 on the Soderling serve, Berdych tries to retrieve a high-bouncing forehand and breaks a string in the very bottom right corner of his racquet. He takes some time to find a replacement but his stalling tactics are of no use. Soderling slots a forehand down the line winner on the next point and it's three games apiece in the decider.

16:24 Fifth set: Berdych 3-2 A hold for Berdych to pull ahead again.

16:21 Fifth set: 2-2 Cruisy service game from Soderling who's clearly keener than his play today would suggest to reach his second-consecutive French Open final.

16:14 Fifth set: Berdych 2-1 Hold by Berdych to re-establish his claim on this match. This could be a long set.

16:10 Fifth set: 1-1 Berdych takes a 30-15 lead on the Soderling serve after two unforced errors by the Swede. A clean winner advances Berdych to 40-30 and he breaks back courtesy of Soderling's fourth error for the set.

16:08 Fifth set: Soderling 1-0 Soderling goes on the attack in Berdych's opening service game of the decider - racing to 40-0 on the Czech's serve. He nails a skidding backhand cross-court return on the next point. Despite sliding, Berdych can barely get his racquet to it and the point is Soderling's. He's claimed the early break in the fifth.

16:05 Fourth set: the stats Berdych's first serve percentage went up in that set, but his ace count was way down - just four to Soderling's five. The Swede found 20 winners - his best set so far - and contained his error count at 11 - his best performance since the opening set.

15:59 Fourth set: Soderling 6-3 Soderling serving for the fourth set. Berdych pushes hinm to 30-30, then earns a break back point off a off-swinging forehand into the Swede's backhand corner. Soderling fights off the break point with a 215 k/ph ace - his 15th for the match, then stands at set point when Berdych drives a rallying backhand long. He clinches the set with a whipping forehand cross-court winner that lands plum on the line. Somehow the Swede has found his way back into this match. We're heading to a decider.

15:55 Fourth set: Soderling 5-3 Berdych takes the first two points on serve with some thudding serves, but concedes the next two through error ridden play and the game is locked at 30-30. He drives a forehand deep into the Soderling forehand corner to force another off-balance error from the Swede for ad, then fires off his twentieth ace for the match to hang on in the fourth set.

15:54 Fourth set: Soderling 5-2 Soderling stretches his lead, dropping one point on serve. He sits courtside at the change of ends, his towel draped over his head as is his habit. It must be hot under there.

15:46 Fourth set: Soderling 4-2 Breakpoint opportunity for Soderling on the Berdych serve but he can't capitalise, firing an open-stance backhand wide of the trams. He earns a second chance to break moments later however and is handed Berdych's service game when the Czech nets a simple backhand drive.

15:45 Fourth set: Soderling 3-2 Per the script, Soderling serves big and wins four straight points to edge ahead again.

15:38 Fourth set: 2-2 Berdych squares the ledger in the fourth set. This match is being reduced to a serving contest at the moment.

15:37 Fourth set: Soderling 2-1 A hold for Soderling. He lands some first serves and makes them count. He noses ahead in the fourth set.

15:34 Fourth set: 1-1 A hold to Berdych and the pressure's back on the No.5 seed.

15:28 Fourth set: Soderling 1-0 A break point to Berdych in Soderling's opening service game of the fourth set. Again it's the Swede's backhand that breaks down. He serve carries none of the venom of previous matches. He battles to hold but looks all arms and legs out there today.

15:24 Third set: the stats A phenomenal nine aces for Berdych to one from Soderling in that set. He hammered home 27clean winners to 11 from his Swedish opponent and maintained a favourable unforced error count - 13 to Soderling's 15 - for the set as well. Just two points the difference for the set but, as we know, it's all about playing the important points well.

15:20 Third set: Berdych 7-5 No.15 seed Berdych serving for the third set. Soderling moves to 15-0 on the Berdych serve but sees another ace fly by him and dashes his racquet into the red dirt in frustration. It's 15-15, then 30-30. A 15th ace by Berdych brings up set point, he smacks down his 16th (and third for this game) to hold serve and advance to a two sets to one lead in this semi-final.

15:17 Third set: Berdych 6-5 Berdych advances to 30-0 on the Soderling serve but allows the Swede back in to 30-30. A clean backhand cross court winner by the Czech and he stands at break point for the ninth time in this match. He converts for the third time and moves closer to the third set finish line.

15:16 Third set: 5-5 Berdych pushes back at Soderling with a love service game of his own. His serve has been his saving grace in this set, five of his total 12 aces coming in the past 10 games.

15:10 Third set: Soderling 5-4 As if taunting his Czech opponent, Soderling holds an easy service game to love, casting the pressure imediately back on his No.15-seeded opponent.

15:06 Third set: 4-4 With a flick of his wrist, Soderling tweaks a backhand down the line passing shot and stands at 30-15 on the Berdych serve. The Czech nets a backhand to end a long baseline rally on the next point and it's two break points to the No.5 seed. Berdych saves the first with his tenth ace of the match. He saves the second following up three massive looping forehand drives with a deftly caressed forehand drop shot winner. An eleventh ace and he stands at a game point of his own. He presses home the advantage with a 208 k/ph serve that Soderling skims into the net.

15:02 Third set: Soderling 4-3 Soderling consolidates by holding serve. He seems to be hitting a tiny bit more freely out there all of a sudden. He gestures to his supporters with an intense fist pump at the conclusion of that game.

14:55 Third set: 3-3 Soderling pushes Berdych to deuce again. This time he threads a backhand down the Czech's forehand line for a winner. Berdych throws his head in the air in frustration at handing a break point to his No.5-seeded opponent. The No.15 seed strikes a backhand drive long and surrenders the break back to Soderling.

14:50 Third set: Berdych 3-2 Not a bad hold there for Soderling but he looks anything but the shot-making machine of previous rounds. He's already spent longer on court during this match than in three of his five previous matches and we're only mid-way through the third set.

14:45 Third set: Berdych 3-1 Berdych fights back from 0-30 down on serve for a second consecutive game. He's playing the important points with maturity and excellent shot selection so far in this match. Saying that, he drives an off-balance backhand wide and long to hand Soderling a break back point, but he draws on that thumping serve to dig him out of trouble, nailing a 205 k/ph bomb down the 'T' to force the shanked return from Soderling and level things at deuce. Another cracking serve and he has the ad point which he claims when Soderling loops a rallying forehand long.

14:40 Third set: Berdych 2-1 Soderling trails 15-40 on serve after some testing returns from Berdych but fights his way back to deuce courtesy of heavy serving. A double fault from the Swede - only his second for the match - has him in trouble facing a third break point but he saves it with a galloping cross-court forehand winner for deuce. Clean backhand cross-court return winner from Berdych and he again holds the advantage. Soderling double faults a second time in this game and the Czech has earned himself the driving seat in this semi-final.

14:34 Third set: 1-1 Berdych fights back from 0-30 on serve, winning three points in a row to advance to 40-30. Soderling fights back, threading a clean forehand winner cross-court to peg the Czech back to deuce. He makes no further impression however, consecutive errors allowing the No.15 seed to hold.

14:32 Third set: Soderling 1-0 Rapid-fire love service game to Soderling to open his third set account.

14:30 Second set: the stats Good consistency from Berdych, whose low first serve count (55%) was bolstered by an 89 percent conversion rate. He made 12 winners to 18 by Soderling but kept his error count down to five compared to a whopping 16 by Soderling. This match could be anyone's.

14:27 Second set: Berdych 6-3 Berdych serves out the set, but not without his difficulties. After playing a great retrieving point he nets a sitter of a forehand, albeit played from exceedingly close to the net. He makes good on the next point however, firing down his seventh ace of the match to level the scoreboard at a set apiece in today's semi-final.

14:24 Second set: Berdych 5-3 Two game points to Soderling at 40-15 on the Berdych serve, as his off-forehand begins to find its range. He nails a forehand winner down the middle of the court to claim the crucial point and keep himself in touch - if barely - in this second set.

14:19 Second set: Berdych 5-2 After dropping the first point, Berdych cruises to another held service. Soderling has struck 15 unforced errors already in this second set, a dangerous tally when compared to Berdych's four.

14:16 Second set: Berdych 4-2 It's all about Berdych right now. He pushes Soderling to deuce on serve. He goes all out to stay in that point and is rewarded with a break point when Soderling shanks a short forehand way long of the baseline. It's deuce and the Swede squeaks two points to hold serve after a fight.

14:13 Second set: Berdych 4-1 Love service game to Berdych. More thumping serves and Soderling has few answers for the No.15 seed. He's not striking his ground strokes with anywhere near the assuredness of previous rounds. In fact, careful would be a good word to describe the Swede's play so far in this match. It worked for him in the opening set but if Berdych's nerves are steadying, it's going to take more than keeping the ball in the court for the Swede to reach his second-consecutive French Open final.

14:10 Second set: Berdych 3-1 A break point to Berdych on the Soderling serve and he takes it. Perhaps the No.5 seed isn't going to have things all his own way in this semi-final. He certainly looks a little frustrated with his forehand wing, taking swipes at the air with his racquet between points.

14:02 Second set: Berdych 2-1 Soderling comes back at Berdych, some canny returning to the feet of the Czech's leveling the game at 30-30. The No.5 seed nets a regulation backhand on the next point to hand Berdych 40-30, then it's the No.15 seed's turn to net an easy backhand drive. The game stands at deuce. Another lengthy rally and again it's the Soderling backhand that crumbles. Not for nothing are these two men known for their forehands. Or not...Soderling drives a 215 k/ph serve return long and Berdych holds on and heads for the chair.

14:02 Second set 1-1 Berdych pushes but makes little impression on the Soderling serve. The Swede holds for the loss of two points.

13:53 Second set: Berdych 1-0 Steadying service game from Berdych to start the second set. He advances to 40-15, but drops the next serve after netting a backhand for 40-30. The Czech's unforced error count for the match stands at eight and many have come off what should have been simple plays. Soderling plays a whipping forehand cross court passing shot to earn deuce on the Berdych serve. The Czech responds with the fastest serve of the match so far at 212 k/ph for advantage, but strikes a double fault and it's back to deuce. Finally he strings consecutive points together courtesy of Soderling errors and he's a game to the good in the second set.

13:50 First set: the stats Some tidy play by the No.5 seed in the opening set. He makes 61 percent of first serves and wins 82 percent of points when he does. The Swede has nailed 17 winners to Berdych's nine and won 28 points to the Czech's 22 so far this match.

13:47 First set: Soderling 6-3 Soderling stakes an early claim for Sunday's coveted finals spot, earning himself three set points with a poetic clean backhand winner down the line. He squanders the first with a loose netted backhand drive, but comes back hard on the next, bashing down another mighty serve to set himself up for a beautiful wrong-footing forehand winner cross-court. First set to the Swede.

13:43 First set: Soderling 5-3 Soderling runs him close, but Berdych manages to get another service game on the board in the opening set. It's left to the No.5 seed to serve it out.

13:42 First set: Soderling 5-2 The No.5 seed extends his lead. He's clocked up five aces for this match so far, won 86 percent of points when he's landed his first serve and notched up 14 clean winners compared to seven from Berdych.

13:34 First set: Soderling 4-2 Nothing wrong with Berdych's serve out there today either. Both men have dished up 220 k/ph serves in this match already, the Czech to advance to a 30-15 lead on serve. He can't press home the advantage, however, driving a sitter of a backhand short ball feet behind Soderling's baseline to bring the score to 30-30. Soderling earns his first break point of the match but a strategic approach to the net saves the point for Berdych. The Swede will not be deterred however, claiming the first break of this semi-final courtesy of unforced errors by Berdych.

13:30 First set: Soderling 3-2 Soderling's serve is starting to crank. He fires down his fourth ace for the match, a 215 k/ph bomb, to advance to 40-15 on serve, holding courtesy of a second unforced error by Berdych.

13:26 First set: 2-2 Berdych is finding the rhythm on his forehand beautifully and concludes a 17-ball rally with a flowing cross-court winner. Another lengthy rally and the Czech tracks down a nifty Soderling drop shot, bunting it cross-court almost parallel with the net to advance to 30-0. A wide Soderling forehand and Berdych's first ace for the match and it's another game on the board for the confident looking No.15 seed.

13:23 First set: Soderling 2-1 A tougher service game for Soderling. Berdych makes good with some returns and pushes the Swede to deuce. The No.5 seed pulls out a heavy serve to advance to game point and prevails when Berdych hooks a forehand into the trams to conclude a long rally.

13:18 First set: 1-1 Berdych responds in kind, his heavy serve jamming Soderling on the returns. Love game to the No.15 seed.

13:16 First set: Soderling 1-0 Wow, a quick game from Soderling there to kick things off on this steamy Friday afternoon in Paris. Four straight points and he's on the board.

13:14 Pre-match Welcome to what looks likely to be an incendiary semi-final between two of the hardest hitters in the men's game, Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych. The men have warmed up on Philippe Chatrier Court and Soderling is about to open serve.


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