Soderling to meet Cilic in Open 13 final
MARSEILLE, France (AP)
Robin Soderling of Sweden will play Marin Cilic of Croatia in the final of the Open 13 on Sunday.
Soderling beat Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 7-5, 6-1 and Cilic saved a match point before downing Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 in Saturday's semifinals.
The top-seeded Swede now has won 16 of 17 matches this year, clinching titles in Rotterdam last weekend and in Brisbane last month.
''I have a lot of confidence and I'm playing really well right now,'' Soderling said. ''I really feel that I can play my own game and be aggressive on the important points.''
The unseeded Tursunov was betrayed by his serve at key moments, while Soderling played solidly in his service games, not conceding any break chance.
Soderling took the first set on a double-fault from Tursunov, a former top-20 player whose career has been hampered in the past two years by a nagging ankle injury.
''I wasn't maybe aggressive enough in the beginning,'' Soderling said. ''At the end (of the first set), I told myself to be a little more aggressive. It brought out some mistakes from him.''
In the first semifinal, the unseeded Cilic double-faulted at 5-3 to face a match point, but saved it with an ace.
Cilic rallied at 5-5 when Youzhny sent a backhand into the net and then clinched victory when a forehand from the third-seeded Russian sailed long.
''It's for me a big relief to come back against this kind of player and also to back it up with yesterday's win,'' said Cilic, who upset Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. ''It shows that I was waiting for this moment for a while and I'm satisfied with (my) on-court mentality. I was there fighting for my chance even though I wasn't playing great.''
Cilic broke into the top 10 a year ago but has struggled for consistency since, slipping to 28th in the world rankings.
The Croatian baseliner dictated the points with his powerful groundstrokes in the first set, hitting 10 winners to four for Youzhny.
Youzhny fought back in the second set by mixing up his shots and changing speeds, especially with his backhand slice. He also served better, landing 80 percent of his first serves and cracking five aces.
Youzhny seemed to have the match under control in the last set as he whipped a forehand winner down the line to break Cilic in the fifth game. He then fired two aces, and hit a backhand volley and a smash to hold serve and lead 4-2.
''It was really amazing that I came back and that I had a chance to win,'' Cilic said. ''From the beginning of the second set until 4-2 in the third, he was playing extremely well. He was almost making two aces per game. He was making me work a lot.''
Cilic had lost their four previous meetings. It is his first final since the BMW Open last May in Munich. He will chase a sixth career title.