Softly spoken Soderling lets racket do the talking

Updated: 2010-05-24 10:37
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Softly spoken Soderling lets racket do the talking

Robin Soderling of Sweden returns the ball to Laurent Recouderc of France during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris May 23, 2010. [Agencies]

PARIS - Robin Soderling speaks in a soft voice that belies the brutality of a game which on Sunday booked him the easiest of routes into the French Open second round.

The one player whose resume includes a win against Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros ought to be shouting from the rooftops but Soderling was happy to let his racket do the talking against Frenchman Laurent Recouderc, making him look every inch the hopeful wildcard he was with a 6-0 6-2 6-3 win.

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"That was all last year. Now I have to focus on this year," Soderling told reporters of his career-defining win over the Spaniard in last year's fourth round.

The Swede won the first nine games on Sunday and threatened the humiliation of a rare whitewash before Recouderc discovered some pride and egged on the partisan crowd with a punch to the air as he stopped the rot in game 10.

Recouderc, sporting a shabby grey top and black shorts that gave him the look of a park player, managed four my games before Soderling booked his place in round two after an efficient 94-minute workout.

Anything short from the world number 179 was ruthlessly smashed away by Soderling while the sheer ferocity of the Swede's groundstrokes had the Frenchman peering into the cloudless Paris sky for inspiration.

Soderling thumped 46 winners to Recouderc's 15.

When Soderling arrived at Roland Garros a year ago, he had never reached a grand slam quarter-final and looked unlikely to add many chapters to his country's rich tradition in the sport. Yet in the fourth round he achieved the unthinkable.

Nadal had never lost on the Parisian clay and looked as close to unbeatable on the surface as it was possible to be until Soderling came from nowhere to batter the Mallorcan into submission before going on to reach the final.

And though that unforgettable win has forged a renaissance in his career he is loth to dwell on its significance.

"I don't think about it too much. That was all last year. 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. Gives you good feelings.

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

The 25-year-old is on a quarter-final collision course with Roger Federer, the man who brought his Paris charge to a halt in last year's final, and the Swiss maestro will have to be at his best to once again resist the Swede's booming forehand.