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Friday, February 29, 2008
Soderling, Bjorkman among men's winners; Davenport, Govortsova reach final

Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Robin Soderling upset top-seeded Andy Roddick 7-6 (6), 6-3 on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, ending the American's bid to win in consecutive weeks.

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Roddick won at San Jose last week and went into the quarterfinal match 10-1 this season, ranked sixth in the world. Soderling had been only 7-19 against top 10 players, a record that included a victory over No. 7 Richard Gasquet earlier this month.

But the eighth-seeded Swede served up 16 aces and won all but nine points on his serve and 14 of 18 on his second serve. Soderling, the runner-up in Rotterdam last week, did not face one break point and hasn't been broken in three matches.

Roddick said Soderling outplayed him in what he thought would be his toughest match this week.

"You look at his career record indoors. I think he's over 3-1 in wins to losses. Outdoors, I think he's flirting with .500," Roddick said. "I definitely don't think that's coincidence. You see his toss, it almost brings rain. You add a little bit of wind to that, he has a huge swing, you add a little bit of wind conditions to that ... we played indoors tonight. There's no doubt he's one of the best indoor players."

Soderling will play Czech Radek Stepanek, who beat Chris Guccione of Australia 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the final quarterfinal. Swede Jonas Bjorkman survived a third-set tiebreak to beat Donald Young 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6) and will play Belgian Steve Darcis, a 6-1, 6-0 winner over Benjamin Becker of Germany.

On the women's side, fourth-seeded Lindsay Davenport beat qualifier Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 6-0, 6-3 in 57 minutes. Davenport, who had already beaten Erakovic in a doubles match here 6-0, 6-0, will meet fifth-seeded Olga Govortsova of Belarus on Saturday night for the Cellular South Cup in the championship. Govortsova downed Shahar Peer of Israel 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

Soderling won the tiebreak by serving up an ace and then watched Roddick hit a poor return.

The Swede had 10 chances to break Roddick, and he finally broke the American again in the seventh game of the second set. With Soderling holding the advantage, Roddick double-faulted to fall behind 4-3 and threw his racket to the court. Soderling broke Roddick again to win the match, converting on his second match point when Roddick hit into the net.

"I'm serving great," Soderling said. "Not only am I serving great, I'm playing great. I played one of my best matches."

Davenport will be going for her fourth title since giving birth to her son last June. She won at Auckland this year but has not won in the United States since New Haven in 2005.

"It's great," Davenport said of reaching the final. "I've expected to win every match and so to come through and perform is great. I didn't play well in Australia and the week after, so I'm excited I got back on the right foot here and hopefully can continue this momentum through the next few tournaments in the United States."

The 35-year-old Bjorkman said he believes Young, the 18-year-old from Atlanta, has a bright future once he learns to play tactically smart. The Swede also had a little advice for the teen not to start throwing his racket too early in a match, especially after winning the first set 6-1.

"This game is a mental game. You've just got to go out there and not show anything," Bjorkman said.

For Young, this quarterfinal was a major learning experience.

He had lost his first three ATP events in the first round before making his debut here, and he wound up reaching his first career singles quarterfinals. But he had a chance to make this week even more memorable and failed.

He had match point on Bjorkman at 5-6 in the tiebreak only to watch the veteran come through with a strong service winner. Bjorkman won the next point with a good backhand after a volley, and then Young finished it himself by hitting a backhand into the net before throwing his racket.

"I was definitely thinking about it," Young said of his first semifinal. "How could you not? ... But I still had to play and win the point. He wasn't going to give it to me. He took it."

Darcis finished off Becker in 51 minutes to reach his second ATP semifinal since last summer when he won Amersfoot for his first singles title. Darcis won five of 10 break points and saved all four off his serve.