Soderling scraps into showpiece
Last year's runner-up awaits Nadal after beating Berdych
Robin Soderling is through to his second successive French Open final after defeating Tomas Berdych in a five set thriller.
In sweltering conditions, the fifth seeded Swede came from two sets to one down to prevail 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-3 on Court Philippe Chatrier and awaits four-time former winner Rafael Nadal in the final after he overcame Jurgen Melzer in straight sets.
"It was more than tough," said the sweat-drenched 25-year-old after his win. "Tomas played really well today.
"It was really tough for me to play my game, because he was hitting the ball so hard and so flat. Everything was 10 centimetres from the baseline."
Soderling, who beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, could hardly believe that he was back in the final after losing to Federer last year.
"It's unbelievable. When I came here, I was thinking about only the first round, getting past the first round. Now, two weeks later, I am in the final again. It's better than the best dream ever," he added.
Today's semi-finals were the first in a grand slam not to involve Federer since the 2004 French Open.
The world number one's quarter-final conqueror Soderling was aiming to reach his second successive Roland Garros final, while Berdych had already gone further than he had ever done at a grand slam.
The Czech - who crushed Andy Murray in round four - had not dropped a set all tournament and had comfortably beaten Soderling at the Miami Masters in April, though the latter had won five of their eight meetings
Soderling took the initiative as he broke serve in the sixth game of the first set when Berdych double-faulted and went on to win the opener.
Both players struggled to control their power in the warm air, often firing shots over the baseline, but Berdych began to find his range to win the second and third sets.
The Czech, appearing in his first grand slam semi-final, had a chance to break the Soderling serve right at the start of the fourth but the Swede pummelled down an ace.
Soderling struck in the sixth game, breaking when 15th seed Berdych netted a backhand, to set up a deciding set.
After trading early breaks in the fifth, Soderling broke twice more to reach his second grand slam final.