Robin Soderling denied Andy Murray a return trip to the Indian Wells Masters 1000 final on Friday, ousting the Scot in straight sets to set up a semi-final showdown with Andy Roddick.
Sixth-seeded Soderling defeated Murray 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), his booming serves and powerful ground strokes giving the Scot no chance to work his way into the match.
Roddick, seeded seventh, continued his dominance of Tommy Robredo, advancing 6-3, 7-5 as he notched his 11th victory over the Spaniard in as many meetings.
Soderling steamed through the first set against Australian Open runner-up Murray in 36 minutes, taking a 5-0 lead before an out-of-sorts Murray managed to hold serve.
“He played very well to start, and I didn’t,” Murray said, who fell in the final last year to Rafael Nadal. “I didn’t move particularly well. I was hitting the ball really short and he’s obviously got a big game and he was able to dictate all of the points. So from my side it was poor, but he hit the ball really big from the back of the court and served well when he needed to.”
Soderling said his level in the opening set was “really good.”
“I didn’t make any mistakes at all, I think. I was moving pretty well, serving well, and I went for my shots and in the right moments,” Soderling said.
Soderling was on his way with a break for a 2-1 lead in the second set, but Murray fought off three match-points against his own serve in the ninth game — two of them with service winners and one with a backhand drop shot that the Swede couldn’t handle.
Serving for the match in the next game, Soderling instead surrendered the break as Murray belted a backhand winner down the line.
That seemed to give Murray new life and he fired three of his 10 aces in the next game to hold serve.
“I was a little bit nervous going out serving for the match at 5-4,” Soderling said. “I got up to 30-love and then I don’t think I really did anything wrong. So all credit to him, because he played well where he needed it the most.”
In the tiebreaker, however, Soderling took control quickly, taking a 3-1 lead. He gave himself a fourth match-point with a backhand down the line for 6-4 and Murray netted a service return to end it.
Soderling, who stunned four-time defending champion Nadal to reach the final of the French Open last year, has reached the semi-finals of a prestigious Masters 1000 event for the first time.
Roddick, meanwhile, reached the semi-finals here for the fourth time, having lost to eventual champion Nadal in the semis last year.
The American has made it to the quarter-finals or better in five events this season, opening the year by winning the title in Brisbane, making the quarters at the Australian Open and reaching the final of an ATP event in San Jose, California, last month.
Roddick broke Robredo in the penultimate game of each set and served out each with a love game. Five of his six aces came in the second set and he didn’t face a break-point in the entire match.
The semi-finalists in the other half of the draw were decided on Thursday, as third-seeded Nadal and Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic advanced with quarter-final wins.
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
Second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki downed good friend Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-3 on Friday to book a final showdown with former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic at the BNP Paribas Open.