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Sunday, May 23, 2010
Soderling puts aside wild card with ease

ESPN.com news services

Robin Soderling enjoyed a fast start at the French Open, winning the first nine games as he defeated wild card Laurent Recouderc 6-0, 6-2, 6-3.

Hoping to mount another run at Roland Garros after upsetting four-time champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round last year, Soderling dropped only nine of 58 points on his serve in his opening match Sunday.

"It's always nice to have a quick match in the early rounds," Soderling said. "I got to hit a few balls. We had a few rallies. So it was a good match."

Recouderc called a trainer while trailing 5-2 in the second set to receive treatment for a blister on his right hand but couldn't hold his serve when he returned to the court.

Soderling's win over Nadal at Roland Garros still seems shocking a year later. Soderling went on to the final -- his best showing in a major event -- where he lost to Roger Federer, who completed a career Grand Slam.

"That was all last year," Soderling said. "I have to start over again. But of course it's always nice to come back to a place where you did well last year. It gives you good feelings."

Nadal, now 31-1 lifetime at Roland Garros, is again the tournament favorite and wouldn't meet the No. 5-seeded Soderling until the final.

The tournament began in warm, sunny conditions that had spectators fanning themselves and forming long lines at ice cream stands.

"Roasting," tweeted top British hope Andy Murray, who had a practice session for his opening match Monday. "No sunblock today wud be an error."

No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France won the longest match of the day, beating Daniel Brands 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 7-5. No. 10 Marin Cilic and No. 11 Mikhail Youzhny also won their first round matches.

Only one seeded man departed. No. 23 Ernests Gulbis retired trailing in the third set of his match against Julien Benneteau with a right thigh injury and will undergo further examination.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.