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Johansson and Soderling herald changing of the guard for Swedish tennis
Tue 26 Oct, 10:04 PM
STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Joachim Johansson, Sweden's next hope for a Top 10 spot, took the first step towards a potential seeded final with legend Andre Agassi as he defeated Adrian Garcia 6-4, 6-2 at the 632,750-euro Stockholm Open.
The first-round win for the 22-year-old 11th-ranked big-hitter led the way for compatriot and fellow seed Robin Soderling.
The number six seed dismissed three-time champion and compatriot Thomas Enqvist 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 as the Swedish game sees a generational shift in its power base.
Johansson reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Open last month, beating holder Andy Roddick before falling to Lleyton Hewitt.
Johansson is enjoying a week of playing at home, sleeping in his own bed rather than a hotel room.
"I've been a bit sick for the past two weeks but I'm feeling much better now," said the second seed.
"I got off to a good start with an early break and was able to focus on my own service games. I'm satisfied with my game, but there are a few things I'd like to improve."
Soderling took his third win of 2004 against the 30-year-old Enqvist.
Soderling, who lifted his first career title in Lyon this autumn, won the first set and went up an early break in the second.
Enqvist saved a match point from a Soderling return which appeared to crawl over the net cord on its own.
The senior Swede then double-faulted to give Soderling a second chance.
He saved that one also before finally crashing out.