HEAD’s racket rebels have a major role to play in the second week of the French Open 2010 men’s singles with 2009 finalist Robin Soderling leading the way forward for HEAD colleagues Novak Djokovic and Mikhail Youzhny.
The trio proved its worth on the dirt with solid performances during week one, with Soderling setting up a quarter-final which duplicates his final last year against Roger Federer after the Swiss defeated HEAD's Stanislas Wawrinka.
Soderling beat fellow HEAD standout Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Andy Murray was bidding to duplicate his breakthrough quarter-final at Roland Garros from a year ago, but was first interrupted by rain on the way to a 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 loss to Tomas Berdych.
Youzhny, the 11th seed, needed to play only one set before Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga quit their match with back pain.
Soderling is pleased with his Top Five form since breaking through in Paris, 2009 with a defeat of Rafael Nadal. “I think I'm winning more matches when I'm not playing my best tennis, which I didn't do so often before. That's the biggest change."
Djokovic got safely through the first week thanks to a run of victories which began in the first round with a win over fellow HEAD player Evgeny Korolev of Kazakhstan. The Serb says he is getting past the breathing problems which kept him from playing in Madrid prior to Paris.
"It has been a struggle, definitely. It was obvious for the people who saw my matches in Indian Wells, Miami, and then Monte Carlo and Rome. I really could not feel physically 100 percent ready on the court, and it reflected on my game, on my results."
The world No. 3 called the issue "a part of my life, part of my genetics. I'll have to prepare better for next year. My allergic reaction was very strong this year. I didn't expect it, really. I never faced it before."