Tuesday, April 20, 2010

French Open Finalist Soderling Opens 2010 Barcelona bid on Tuesday

Robin Soderling makes his season debut on clay Tuesday evening, scheduled to face Juan Ignacio Chela. The players are set to battle for a round of 16 berth at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

French Open finalist Robin Soderling took over as the highest seed in the Barcelona draw on Monday, replacing five-time defending champion Rafael Nadal. The 25-year-old Swede will contest his first clay-court contest of the season, ready to take on 2010 US Men’s Clay Court Championship title-winner Juan Ignacio Chela.

Soderling holds a 4-1 edge over Chela, having won their last meeting on the clay at the 2007 World Team Championship, 6-1, 6-4. The World No. 8 carries a 2-1 series advantage on the dirt, which includes a 2004 quarterfinal-round victory in Bastad. The veteran Argentine claimed his lone win at the 2005 Masters Series Hamburg, where he defeated the Swede in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4.
Soderling enters into his third Barcelona tournament with a 16-5 record. The 25-year-old is bidding for his second ATP World Tour title of the year, adding to a run to the championship in Rotterdam (def. Youzhny). Tuesday’s appearance signals the first action for Soderling since his semifinal finish in Miami. The Monte-Carlo resident looks to pass the Barcelona round of 32, having failed to do so in two previous attempts.

The 53rd-ranked Chela kicks off his eighth Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell with a 10-9 mark in 2010. The 30-year-old has enjoyed a return to form on clay, as he captured ATP World Tour crown No. 5 over American Sam Querrey in Houston. Chela, a Barcelona quarter-finalist in 2008, lost a second-round match to Nicolas Almagro last year.

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