Nadal fights back to sink Soderling

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The Independent Online

Rafael Nadal bounced back from losing the first five games of his Wimbledon quarter-final against Robin Soderling to win in four sets.

The 2008 champion was one point away from being on the receiving end of a first-set whitewash before gradually getting on top of his opponent to win 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-1.

Soderling, who beat Nadal twice last year, had dropped fewer sets than his opponent on the route to the last eight but he failed to keep up the standard as Nadal bounced back. The sixth seed started in spectacular fashion and Nadal's double fault handed him a 2-0 lead.

Soderling served to love with the help of two aces and then forced another break point, moving further ahead when the Spaniard hit the net during a rally.

Another ace in a convincing service game left Soderling on the verge of a first-set whitewash and he moved to set point when Nadal hit another backhand into the net.

The favourite fought back to hold and a double fault handed him a break, but Soderling produced another ace during his next service game to take the set.

Nadal recovered from a blatant injustice at the start of the second set after Soderling moved to break point when he successfully challenged a baseline call. The Spaniard had left the ball following the call and was incredulous when the umpire awarded the point against him rather than ordering a replay.

The Court One crowd also voiced their displeasure and Nadal roared and jumped in the air after saving the game following a long rally, before finishing it off with an ace.

The 2008 champion used the lingering resentment to break Soderling in the next game with some aggressive tennis.

Both players served well throughout the rest of the set - Soderling hit three aces in one game - and Nadal matched the sixth seed's first-set score to level.

Nadal began to edge the fierce rallies and broke in the fifth game of the third set when Soderling over-hit a simple forehand.

Nadal, who last year suffered his only French Open defeat to Soderling before avenging it in the final this year, saved two break points before clinching the next game with an ace.

The 23-year-old faced a delay when about to serve for the set as Soderling received treatment for what appeared to be a blister and Nadal made two double faults to allow his opponent to level at 5-5.

Nadal soon served to love to set up a tie-break and forced a mini-break on the first point when Soderling's wild forehand looped straight on to the back wall. Each subsequent point went with serve as Nadal moved ahead with a 7-4 success.

Soderling over-hit several shots in his second service game of the next set and the break was sealed when the Swede's backhand bounced out off the top of the net.

Nadal, who had suffered from knee problems in first week of the tournament, moved 4-1 ahead when an ace sealed a perfect service game.

Soderling dropped serve again following a succession of unforced errors before the Spaniard served out to win the match.

Nadal said: "He started so well with some very powerful shots, it was very difficult.

"I had some problems in the first game of the second set at break point but after that I improved.

"Being in the semi-final of Wimbledon is great for me, it's a very important moment in the season for me."