Tired Verdasco, ruthless Soderling into Barcelona final

BARCELONA,(Reuters)-Fernando Verdasco found strength to haul his way back from a set and a break down to reach the final of the Barcelona Open with a 6-7 7-5 6-1 win over fellow Spaniard David Ferrer on Saturday.

Under hot sun at the Reial Club de Tennis, Verdasco initially appeared to be feeling the effects of his run to the final at last week’s Monte Carlo Masters but he dug deep to set up a clash with French Open runner-up Robin Soderling.

The second-seeded Swede showed no mercy to unseeded Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker, who upset Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals on Friday, ousting the 21-year-old former junior world number one 6-1 6-4 on the Catalan clay.

Verdasco and Soderling both look in fine fettle in the build-up to the French Open, although Rafael Nadal was in blistering form in Monte Carlo, thrashing Verdasco 6-0 6-1 in the final, and will be the clear favourite.

“My legs felt a bit heavy in the first set and I was late to a lot of balls,” Verdasco said in a courtside TV interview.

Ferrer, a white headband holding back his sweaty locks, shrugged off a warning for angrily whacking the ball out of court early in the first set and his superior work rate gave him an edge during some attritional rallies.  He was a break up in the second before Verdasco battled back to level the match and Ferrer smashed his racket furiously on the ground before fading badly in the decider.

“The more the match went on the better I felt and I carried on fighting even though I wasn’t feeling great physically,” Verdasco said.

Nadal won the title in Barcelona the past five years but withdrew from this year’s event to rest ahead of next week’s Rome Masters.

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