HEAD Racquet rebel Robin Soderling ended a tough week on the Swedish home clay of Bastad, going the three-set distance and squeezing to tight victory in every match he played. But the run of form ended in the final for the two-time French Open finalist, beaten by Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.
The title match was the fourth final of the season for Bastad defending champion Soderling, who won Rotterdam in February with his YouTekTM Radical MP. The 25-year-old who celebrates a birthday next month, also played 2010 clay finals in Paris and Barcelona.
Soderling was annoyed that he could not follow through on a promising start in his struggle with the 20th-ranked Almagro. "Too bad that I didn't get the break early in the first set," said the Swede. "I played OK in the second set but I gave away a break in the decisive set, and that's why I lost the match. I was very disappointed after having lost in the final."
But there is room for optimism in the camp of the world No. 5. "I have some very important tournaments coming up, and a stretch that suits my game really well."
Soderling dodged bullets all week in Sweden, recovering from a 6-4
3-1 deficit against Andreas Seppi in the quarter-finals, and finally escaping with a tiebreak third set. He owns a 18-8 record at the tournament, which he has played nine times.