Robin Sordeling, a two-time French Open finalist, played a very intelligent and practically faultless match to claim his first Masters 1000 Series title 6-1, 7-6 (1) against home favorite Gael Monfils.
Both sportsmen prevailed through long and grueling semifinal matches the previous day after saving break points in their respective matches, so it was interesting to see how each player would feel on the court.
The opening few games were pretty cagey, but it was the Frenchman who showed signs of weakness first, when attempting a backhand drop shot that fell short into the net to allow Soderling a 0-30 lead. It rapidly became three break points when Monfils hit a forehand into the net.
He saved the first break point, however he over-hit a forehand volley to hand Soderling the break from the second time of asking. From then on it was smooth sailing in the first set for the Swede as he broke Monfils again to wrap it up 6-1.
The second set started with Monfils taking the first game with some solid serving, as he was trying to get the French 14,500 capacity crowd into the game.
The crowd seemed to be doing their job when Soderling started with a double fault in the second game. Nevertheless, some very good serving from the Swede got the job done.
Throughout the match Soderling used his inside out forehand to great effect. Monfils tried to mix it up with some slices and drop shots, but on the whole the big Swede was just too much in the end, dictating play by hitting winners and forcing errors from his opponent by peppering him with heavy groundstrokes from the back of the court.
All this culminated in the second set tie-break in which Soderling easily won 7-1, by working his way to the net and guiding an easy forehand volley cross court on the final point, after dropping to the ground in joy, leaving Monfils stranded on the baseline.
This was the second consecutive Paris Masters final defeat for the athletic Monfils, who also lost in last year’s final to Novak Djokovic.
Soderling, after claiming his sixth and biggest title of his career, will now leapfrog Andy Murray to a career high No. 4 in the rankings.
It was the first time a Swede had won a Masters 1000 title since Thomas Enqvist won in Cincinnati ten years ago.
Last month I had written an article on Soderling stating that if he won at least two titles per year, and also had a couple of Masters Series titles to his name, he would then be considered to be part of the “Elite Five.”
Seeing how this title was his second title of the year, after also winning in Rotterdam, and in that being a Masters 1000 Title, we can safely say that he is getting there.
The Swede will now be full of confidence when he will head to London, where the WTF will be played from November 21 to 28.