x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Abu Dhabi tournament sets up Soderling nicely for season ahead

Having finished third in Abu Dhabi, the Swede now sets his sights on a strong showing in Melbourne.

ABu DHABI // Having met his goals at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Robin Soderling now sets his sights on a strong showing in Melbourne and the first grand slam tournament of the year.

Soderling, who beat Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-6 yesterday to finish third in the tournament boasting six of the world's top 20 players, will travel straight to Brisbane to get a head start in his preparations for the Australian Open.

The Swede, who finished 2010 as the world No 5 with two ATP titles, beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his first match, but was edged in three sets by Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Friday.

He said he was satisfied with his trip to the UAE.

"It's been good," he said. "I won two matches against really good players and lost one against Roger Federer in three tough sets. So it's been perfect.

"I really like it here and I couldn't ask for a better start.

"I have not set any specific goals like ranking-wise or so, but this year I want to be focused on the big tournaments, the grand slams and Masters, and keep on working hard and trying to improve."

He said he decided to play in the Brisbane tournament to give himself more time in Australia.

"It's nice to be in Australia for a little longer before Melbourne," he said.

"I have one tournament and then after this I will have a practice week in Melbourne just to give myself a good chance to really play well in Melbourne.

"I think there are still a few aspects of my game I can improve a lot and hopefully I can do that. Then, I am pretty sure I will play well."

Berdych also was pleased with his performance. He beat Marcos Baghdatis in the first round before losing to Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

"This was a really great start of the year," he said. "You can be practising as hard as you want, but you cannot get these kind of matches anywhere, just this place.

"So I am happy to be here and having this opportunity to play these three matches. I think it's a great start and I am really looking forward to the next weeks, to the new season."

arizvi@thenational.ae