Federer through to set up re-match with Soderling

Paris, May 30 (DPA) Roger Federer and Robin Soderling bore down on a quarter-final re-run of their 2009 French Open final as both stormed into the last eight on the Paris clay Sunday.

Top seed Federer showed no mercy to his friend and compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, winning the pair’s second all-Swiss battle in as many events 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

The victory was a ruthless follow-up to Federer’s trouncing of his Beijing Olympic gold medal partner in Madrid a fortnight ago.

Sweden’s Soderling, the number five, was equally dismissive of Croatian tenth seed Marin Cilic in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 thrashing.

Federer beat Soderling 51 weeks ago to lift his first Roland Garros title, 16th Grand Slam of his glittering career.

‘I’ve never lost against him, so obviously that’s a good record to have,’ said Federer, who has not dropped a set so far in his campaign. ‘But because of the improvements he’s made, he’s an opponent not to underestimate.

‘Obviously he beat incredible players (Rafael Nadal) on the way to make the finals here last year, so clay seems to also become really his surface of preference, as well.’

Federer improved to 5-1 over Wawrinka with wins of two of their three clay meetings. The victory marked his 43rd at the tournament against ten defeats.

Federer owns 62 titles but for the second time in nine years arrived in Paris without winning a clay trophy. He lost to Nadal in the Madrid final this month.

‘As long as you come through, I always say it’s a great tournament,’ said the relaxed Swiss. ‘I’m playing really well at the moment, so I’m very happy where my game is at right now.’

In women’s play, four-time champion Justine Henin made a triumphant return to form as the Belgian completed a win over Maria Sharapova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 Sunday to reach the fourth round in a match delayed by darkness the night before.

Russian Nadia Petrova put out second seed Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3 and will face compatriot Elena Dementieva after the fifth seed beat Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa,6-1, 6-3.

Danish third seed Caroline Wozniacki spoiled a potential all-Italian quarter-final with her three-hour defeat of number 15 Flavia Pennetta 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.

Italy’s Francesca Schiavone went through to her fourth quarter-final at a major, defeating Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-4.

Henin, a former world number one and darling of the Roland Garros crowds, was playing her favourite event for the first time since 2008 when she announced a retirement from the game which only lasted 20 months.

Between them, 12th seed Sharapova, winner of the Strasbourg title last weekend, own 10 Grand Slam titles, with Henin on seven including her Paris quartet.

‘It’s only a few tournaments I’ve played, I still need some time,’ said Henin.

‘I have ambitions to go as far as possible, but I’m also conscious that I’ll have to work hard on my intensity, my concentration, and just to be more consistent all the time,’ she said in the run-up to her next match with Australian Samantha Stosur.