Soderling wins Marseille Open

Sweden’s top tennis star Robin Söderling overcame unseeded Croat Marin Cilic 6-7 (10/8), 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Marseille Open on Sunday to claim his third tournament of the year.

Robin Soderling

Robin Soderling

“I’m very proud to have started to play better in the second set instead of starting to play worse after losing the tie-break.”

He added: “Winning three tournaments in less than two months is a very nice
feeling, it’s the best start to a season possible,” he said.

The Swede, who adds the title to previous wins in Brisbane and Rotterdam on the ATP circuit so far this year, paid tribute to his opponent.

“He played very well and he was really impressive in the first set. He was very aggressive and played really quickly.

Cilic said he would try to take the positives from his run to the final.

“I had a great week. It’s a big relief for me to have got to the final and to have played good tennis,” said Cilic, the world number 28.

“I hadn’t had this opportunity for nearly a year. I’d played well but it’s one thing to play well for one set against a top-10 player — you have to keep concentrated throughout.”

As in the semi-finals, 22-year-old Cilic made a storming start and broke his opponent’s serve in the opening game.

On the other side of the net, Söderling was struggling to find the right length with his groundstrokes and committing more unforced errors than usual.

The Swede nonetheless managed to break back, but he was undone in an extremely tense first set tie-break, which Cilic edged 10/8.

In the second set it was Soderling who began more aggressively, breaking Cilic at 1-1 and then producing a love service game to go 3-1 up.

Cilic battled back, levelling the set at 3-3, before Soderling raised his game again, notably producing some devastating passing shots as he took the set to square the match.

The deciding set was a game of nerves, with the players inseparable until Cilic conceded his serve and Soderling seized the opportunity to establish a 5-2 lead before closing out victory.

Söderling, who has now won nine career titles, has won more matches this year than anyone else on the men’s tour — 17 — and has been beaten just once.

Nadal named Laureus Sportman of the year

Nadal  Laureus Sportman of the year

Nadal Laureus Sportman of the year

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal won the top honours at this year’s Laureus Sport Awards.

World number one Nadal took Sportsman of the Year at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Winners are chosen by 46 sports stars who make up the Laureus sports academy.

Nadal was quite emotional about the honour be stowed upon him

Novak Djokovic wins Australia Open 2011

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic claimed his second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open Sunday with a dominant display which thwarted Andy Murray’s bid to become Britain’s first male major-winner in 75 years.

The Serbian world number three controlled the final on a warm Melbourne evening, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 for his second Australian title, after also triumphing in 2008.

It was the first major final without Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer for three years, as Djokovic proved superior to the listless fifth seed and afterwards stripped down to his shorts in celebration.

But the disappointing Murray suffered further heartbreak and is now yet to win a set in three Grand Slam finals.

Murray was bidding to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936, and the first from the country to win the Australian Open since 1934.

But he was never in the hunt as his game fell away in the second set and Djokovic ramped up the pressure to take the final in straight sets in 2hr 39 min.

It was Djokovic’s second successive Grand Slam final after losing to Nadal in last year’s US Open decider.

Symbolically, the last time Djokovic finished runner-up at the 2007 US Open, he went on to win the title at the Australian Open the following year against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Djokovic and Murray are close friends from their junior playing days and it was their first meeting at a Grand Slam with the Serb now leading 5-3 in their matches.

Despite the triumph Djokovic will remain the world number three behind Nadal and Federer when the new ATP rankings are published on Monday.

It was another bitter experience for Murray in the majors after going down in straight sets to Federer in last year’s Australian final and at the 2007 US Open.

Kim Clijsters wins Australian Open 2011

Kim Clijsters Australia Open

Kim Clijsters Australia Open

Kim Clijsters won her second straight Grand Slam title and the fourth of her career, struggling early before beating Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 Saturday in the Australian Open final.

The result ended the outstanding run of Li, who became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final.

Li appeared to become upset with some of the Chinese spectators in the crowd in the third set, and asked the chair umpire to intervene. She later complained about the flashes from photographers at centre court.

U.S. Open champion Clijsters’ win came in her likely last appearance at Melbourne Park, she said that 2011 could be her last full year on the tour.