x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Soderling's first major goal is win over Tsonga

Despite the Australian Open arriving in less than three weeks' time, the Swede says his target for now is simply on retaining his unbeaten record against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships today.

ABU DHABI // Grand Slams are the main priority for Robin Soderling this season.

Yet despite the Australian Open arriving in less than three weeks' time, the Swede says his target for now is simply on retaining his unbeaten record against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships today.

The world No 5 has met Tsonga three times and never dropped a set, but he is aware that his French opponent is hungry for success at Zayed Sports City Tennis Complex after being forced to miss much of the 2010 season through a series of injuries.

"It's always very important to get off to a good start, which I had last year," said Soderling, who reached the final in Abu Dhabi last January. "It's an important match even if it is not an official tournament. It's always a tough match against Tsonga, because he is a great player. While my focus for the season is on the majors, my target for now is just to win that first match."

Soderling, 26, reached the final of the French Open for the second consecutive year and also achieved career bests at Wimbledon and the US Open where he progressed to the quarter-finals.

He is confident there is more to come.

"Last year was my best so far, but I am still confident I can keep improving," he said. "I've been practising really well and feel strong, mentally.

"I have lost two grand-slam finals, which is not a great feeling, but the fact I reached the finals shows I can compete at that level.

"I came up short twice, but they say third time is the charm, so hopefully I can try my best and finally win this year."