Soderling battles into semi-finals

STOCKHOLM: Top seed Robin Soderling kept home title hopes alive when he defeated Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 in the Stockholm Open quarter-finals on Friday.

The Swede, who was runner-up to Argentina’s David Nalbandian in 2008, shook off an early break before taking victory in 1hr 43min. Soderling is fighting for one of two remaining spots in next month’s eight-man ATP World Finals in London, standing provisional ninth behind Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco.

The Swede can gain some ground this week, though not pass Verdasco, who will not play until Valencia in ten days. Soderling will next face one of two former Australian Open finalists when Frenchman Arnaud Clement takes on Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. Tenth-ranked Soderling was playing in the tenth quarter-final of his breakthrough season, improving to 45-18.

Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci fired 18 aces to defeat Joachim Johansson 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in their quarter-final to leave Soderling the last home hope. Bellucci, 21, will play for a spot in the final against Oliver Rochus after the Belgian defeated Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

Luxembourg Open

LUXEMBOURG: Yanina Wickmayer beat Kirsten Flipkens 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-1 in an all-Belgian match to reach the semi-finals of the Luxembourg Open. Wickmayer, ranked 20th, is seeking her second victory in a row after winning last week’s title in Linz, Austria. She will play 70th-ranked Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, who beat Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-4.

Fans had been anticipating an all-Belgian final involving second-seeded Kim Clijsters, but the US Open champion lost her second-round match against Patty Schnyder of Switzerland on Thursday.

That match left Schnyder tired, and it showed in her match against sixth-seeded Sabine Lisicki. The German had no trouble in ousting the 30-year-old veteran 6-4, 6-2.