GRAND PRIX DE TENNIS DE LYON
October 26, 2008
Soderling Captures Third Career ATP Title
© AFP/Getty Images
Robin SoderlingRobin Soderling (pictured) ended nearly a three-year ATP title drought by Sweden after capturing his second Lyon trophy on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 win over Frenchman Julien Benneteau.
The last Swede to win an ATP title had been Thomas Johansson at St. Petersburg (d. Kiefer) on October 30, 2005. Since that date, Sweden had gone 0-7 in finals.
Soderling will break into the Top 20 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time, at around No. 18 or No. 19, on Monday. His career-high is No. 23 (January 8, 2007).
"As a player you always have the goal to reach the Top 100," said Soderling. "Once you get there, you want to get to the Top 50. Reaching the Top 20 feels great. It has been my goal for two or three years.”
The seventh seed, who won his first ATP trophy at Lyon in 2004 (d. Malisse), broke Benneteau four times to capture the third trophy of his career in one hour and 43 minutes. He also won at Milan in 2005 (d. Stepanek).
The 24-year-old improved to 44-20 on the season, which includes three runner-up finishes at Rotterdam (l. to Llodra), Memphis (l. to Darcis) and Stockholm (l. to Nalbandian) two weeks ago. He has a 22-6 mark indoors.
"I lost three finals this season so I'm very happy to finally win one," said Soderling. "You really have to be consistent and play well during a whole week to win a tournament. I'm glad that I made it this week.
"Lyon is a special place for me since I won my first title here in 2004. I think that I'm more consistent now than back then. I move better and my defense has improved as well."
This week Soderling posted back-to-back Top 10 wins in the quarterfinals over No. 7 Andy Roddick and No. 10 Gilles Simon, both of whom have yet to clinch their places at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai.
The 26-year-old Benneteau reached his maiden ATP final at Casablanca (d. Simon) in May. He dropped to 22-20 on the season. Next week he will move to around No. 46 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. His career-high is No. 35 (May 21, 2007).
"If somebody told me at the beginning of the week that I would be losing the final in three sets I would have been more than happy,” said Benneteau. “But I'm still disappointed because it really could have been the perfect day for me today. Winning my first title in Lyon close to my hometown would have been unbelievable.
"Robin is one of the best players indoors. If I played him outdoors, on clay with some wind it might have been a different story."
Soderling received 225 South African Airways ATP Rankings points (45 Race points) and €115,500 while Benneteau collected 155 points (31 Race points) and €62,400