Almagro Stuns Soderling

SkiStar Swedish Open
By Hiland Doolittle, July 21st, 2010
Almagro stuns Soderling

Almagro stuns Soderling

Spain’s highly regarded soccer team came up short in the World Cup, but the country’s talented tennis players are compiling quite a bit of silver on the 2010 ATP world tennis tour. This weekend, 20th ranked Nicolas Almagro won his sixth ATP Tour title by upsetting crowd favorite and defending champ Robin Soderling in the SkiStar Swedish Open at Bastad, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Almagro was jubilant in his success while Soderling lamented this season in which he has proven to be vulnerable on center stage. The Spaniard improved his ATP finals record to 6-2 while Soderling’s finals record slumped to a disappointing 5-10. All six of Almagro’s championships have come outdoors on clay.

In 2010, seven different Spaniards have claimed ATP titles and with top ranked Rafael Nadal sweeping the pre-French Open titles as well as the Roland Garros and Wimbledon Championships, the country has built a powerful tennis culture. Almagro reached the finals in Bastad in 2007 but was defeated by countyman David Ferrer. Nicolas is the sixth champion from Spain at the SkiStar tournament in 10 years.

The fourth seeded 24-year old Almagro improved his 2010 mark to 33-17 and 23-10 on clay. He reached the semis at Madrid and the quarters at Paris where he lost to Rafa.

The loss was another disappointment for the fifth seeded Soderling, whose power game takes him a long way. As devastating as his forehand and serve can be, his heavy-footed mobility is a big problem against players who can keep the ball in play.

In the match, Almagro started impressively. Soderling had two break points in Almagro’s first service game but could not convert. Players held serve until Almagro finally converted his fourth break opportunity in the 12th game.

Soderling stormed out of the gates in the second set charging to a 3-0 lead. The Swede then served out the set at 6-3. With his big forehand, Soderling challenged every point. Almagro seemed on the defense and headed for a loss.

The players held in set three to get to 2-2. The Spaniard then took control of the match running off four straight games to stun his opponent and his vocal supporters. Soderling had hoped to become the second player in 17 years to defend the Bastad title. The fifth ranked tour player is already focused on Hamburg but he must find a way to move faster on the court. Soderling is not regarded as an outstanding clay court player so the switch to faster surfaces is definitely suited for his strategy.


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