Soderling storms into Abu Dhabi semis


ABU DHABI – Tomas Berdych beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 on Thursday to set up a semifinal meeting with top-ranked Rafael Nadal at the World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi.
Robin Soderling, meanwhile, overcame Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1 to set up a meeting with No. 2-ranked Roger Federer. Nadal and Federer both received byes into the last four of the exhibition tournament.
“It is the just the perfect start by playing matches like this one and then the next day to play the No. 1 player in the world,” said Berdych.
Berdych got off to a strong start against the error-prone Baghdatis, moving out to a 3-1 lead on his way to winning the first set. Baghdatis, the Cypriot No. 20, fought back in the second set, mixing in drop shots with a potent serve that produced several well-timed aces to level the match.
Berdych appeared to be coasting in the third, breaking Baghdatis in the sixth game and taking a 5-2 lead. But some erratic play by Berdych allowed Baghdatis back into the match. He tied the set at 5-5 with an ace, before hitting a drop shot into the net to give Berdych a 6-5 lead on his way took to the win.
Baghdatis said he was satisfied with his performance despite the loss.
“This is my first match in two months and to play a top player is not easy,” he said. “But I am pretty happy with my performance, playing good tennis, moving well on court. There were some moments in the match that I played well.”
The Cypriot, who now heads to Brisbane where he starts the new season, said he wants to work on his serve which “has to improve if I have to play rivals at this level.”
The fifth-ranked Soderling also raced out to an early 3-1 lead in the first set thanks to a powerful serve that rattled Tsonga into making a slew of errors.