Sweden's Soderling hits giant-killing form | sports | Hindustan Times
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Sweden's Soderling hits giant-killing form

sports Updated: Jan 13, 2011 10:34 IST

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Swedish giant-killer Robin Soderling has hit form at the perfect time to make a serious tilt at the Australian Open, despite a woeful record at the season's first major.

The six foot four (1.93 metres) world number five with the fearsome forehand has only ever won two matches at Melbourne Park, despite scrapping his way to two French Open title matches and three other Slam quarter-finals.

Soderling, 26, had a howler last year in Melbourne when he lost his opening match to Spain's Marcel Granollers. In fact, he has only progressed beyond the first round -- and no further than the second round -- twice, in 2009 and 2004.

But the Tibro native started 2011 with a bang at the Brisbane International, where he saw off Andy Roddick with powerful serving and crushing groundstrokes to take the title and rise to world number four.

"I am playing really well and what makes me really happy is that I've never really played well in Australia before," Soderling said.

"But now I've won a tournament here and I'm playing really good tennis, which makes me happy and gives me a lot of confidence for Melbourne."

The imposing Swede famously shocked Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer en route to the 2009 and 2010 Roland Garros finals, and says he has no fears about facing the top two.

"I never felt that the gap was very big (between Nadal, Federer and the rest)," he said. "There are a lot of very good players and I think there are 10 or even 15 guys who can win the big tournaments like the Grand Slams.

"Of course, Roger and Rafa will always be the favourites in every tournament they play in, but I think there are a lot of players who have a chance to beat them."

Soderling, who split with two-year coach Magnus Norman in December and is now with Italian coach Claudio Pistolesi, is targeting the Grand Slams and Masters 1000 tournaments this year, and feels his game is still evolving.

"I still feel I can improve and become a better player," he said. If I can do that then I'm pretty sure I have a good chance to do well this year."