ATP Tennis 360

November 12, 2009 10:13 AM

Paris Masters day 5:Davydenko to go to London

Sweden's Robin Soderling maintained slim hopes of qualifying for the World Tour Finals in London by beating Nikolay Davydenko 63 36 64. But the subsequent defeat of Fernando Verdasco confirms a spot for Davydenko.  Now, the Roland Garros finalist will face third seed Novak Djokovic in the quarters. The Serb skated past Arnaud Clement, dispatching the Frenchman with a double 62 in front of Guy Forget. Easy victory also for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, against a knee injured Simon, in the first French derby of the day.

Soderling-Davydenko 63 36 64
Robin Soderling comes through the do-or-die match against Nikolay Davydenko and maintains some hope to qualify for the World Tour Finals. The Russian started slowly, goint 0-30 down at 2-1 and then, hooked a backhand just wide of the tramline to give Soderling two break points that the Swede failed to convert  before breaking to deuce. Davydenko took a dose of medication at 2-5 down in the first and left the set 6-3 when Soderling held to 30 thanks to a return wide by the Moscow-born seeded player.

Although a bit lethargic, the world n.7 broke to 2-0. At 2-1 30 all Davydenko defended doggedly from a Soderling smash, and then sprinted to the net without clearing it following the Swede's drop shot: probably the point of the match. The Swede went on to serve and hold, bur the Russian was more consisten on his own serve and, serving for the set at 5-3, he started to stubbornly attack the net. He earned a et point via a successful challenge, and blocked at the net to force the decider.

Soderling remained impenetrable on his serve and came out with real intent in the third hammering a series of pile driver forehands. The two went on with serve until 5-4 Soderling. Then the serving Davydenko hit a loose forehand long and found himself 0-30 down; he superbly wrong-footed the Roland Garros finalist smelling blood. In the end he blitzed two points past the Russian to knock him out.

The Russian, blocked at 3630 points, couldn't no more be overtook by Verdasco. Only one between Gonzalez and Tsonga can surpass him, but they have to win the tournament.

Cilic-Verdasco 63 36 64
Verdasco stood up to the Cilic serve aand broke soon going 3-1 up to Tabasco after a mere 13 minutes. The one break was enough to seal the first set. The Croat showed a stuttering serve in the first set and a half, with no aces in the first. But he didn't definitely need improving it, because the handsome Spaniard doublefaulted to hand his opponent a key break to 4-2. So Cilic forced a decider.

The match reserved his most thrilling moments in the end. In the seventh game Verdasco, wild on some shots, stepped forward with a precise volley before Cilic fired a two-hander past him for deuce. Finally Verdasco hit the net and found himself 3-4 down. At 3-5 a lame service game gifted the trembling Cilic his first match point. The Croat attacked a second serve (on the serve Verdsco searched in vain the Hawk Eye's help) but fired wide and Verdasco stayed alive. At 5-4 Cilic shanked a two-hander wide to 30 all, but "Tabasco" returned into the net to give Cilic his second match point, but he couldn't convert closing the match at the third match point.

Djokovic-Clement 62 62
Djoker rushed through his third round match against a Venice Beach's style Arnaud Clement, with a bandana, shades and designer stubble. The Palais Omnisport was filling up, mainly heading to the successive two all-French-derbies, but the crowd had very few occasions to cheer Monsieur Arnaud, although he illusorily broke Novak soon showing some great shoots: he left Djokovic flat-footed with a forehand before firing another winner past him for 1-1 40-30. Novak responded with a fabulous cross-court winner before firing a backhand past Clement to force deuce and gained a break point when a volley from the Frenchman didn't cross the net. So, in front of Guy Forget, the match hands three breaks in as many games.

From now on Djokovic didn't look back. Serving for set at 5-2, he pinged a volley to reach 30-0, before two unforced errors. Clement, anyway, gave back the courtey with two wayward shoots.

Djokovic broke immediately in the second and complimented it with a hold highlighted by a delightful lob: the Frenchman scampered back to return it, but Novak easily closed the point and dashed out 4-0. Clement, after a spirited start, lost the wind from his sails and Djokovic, at the second time, sealed his place into the quarters against Robin Soderling.

Tsonga-Simon 62 63
Extremely consistent on his serve, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga outlasted a knee-injured Simon, who rested in the match only until 3-2, although he had saved a pair of break points. Then Tsonga drilled down the line with Simon nowhere near it and gained other two of them: Gilles fired into the net dropping his serve. And was broken again to hand "Cassius Clay" the first set. The final game was highlighted by a lifted drop shot by Tsonga who builts and wasted three set points after both players successfully challenged different shots. The Hawk Eye again decided the game and the set: Simon drilled a shot into the corner, Tsonga challenged the call and the Hawk Eye agreed.

Simon, not looking at the races, was broken again, for the third time in a row, to 0-2 in the second. A series of grounstrokes winners, with powerful forehands and solid two-hander pleaded the contest towards Tsonga while the crowd went quite expecting the inevitable. And the inevitable passed when Tsonga thundered a series of aces past Simon, who didn't flinch to reach the balls. So, when Simon returned long, Tsonga went through to the quarters. With this victory he can continue his title-defence and can hope to go to London yet. But he must win the tournament to have some chance to enter in the eight elected for the World Tour Finals.

Monfils-Benneteau 64 63
The conquerer of Roger Federer lasted to 4-4 in the first set. Consistent on his serve, only 4 points lost in as many service games, he allowed a lapse a lapse at precisely the wrong moment, because Monfils converted the first of his two set points.

In the second, although the Paris crowd was really getting behind him, Benneteau seemed to have spent all his cartridges in the Franco-Swiss battle and Monfils raced 3-0 up in the second guaranteeing supporters an exquisite between-the-legger, coming back from a lob, that Benneteau could only net to 1-4 deuce. Heading towards the end of the match Monfils's performance started a slight downhill, but after a series of wayward shots La Monf saved himself thanks to a pair of aces to 5-2. Serving for the match, Monfils was forced to deuce; however, a vengeful smash gave him a match point he wasted hitting the net. Monfils broke a racquet and came to deuce again before conquering another match point. And this time he took it, reserving after 83 minutes a place into the quarterfinals against Marin Cilic.

Stepanek-Murray 16 63 64
With a series of big serves the Czech outpowered Andy Murray in a very staccato match. The Scotster was on fire for a set but far too passive after that, half because of his new strategies, half because of the fatigue of playing three toughs sets at gone midnight last night.

In the first set, there was no match. Murray rushed 5-0 heading to the second bagel of the tournament (curiously the other one was inflicted to Victor Troici by Radek Stepanek himself). The ex Martina Hingi' boyfriend avoided it but lost the set after 20 minutes when Murray galloped to the net and lifted a winning cross court drop shot.

From now on, out of nowhere, the match changed. In his first service game of the set, Murray alternates aces and doubles, caually flicked a drop over the net, but Stepanek fired a passing winner notching his first break of the match. The girls-killer, wearing an enormous pair of luminous blue shorts lost the longest game of the match to 5-3, with Murray displaying one of his rare chip-and-charges of the night. He tried another one in the very next game but was lobbed. At 30 all, Stepanek dictated the point at the net and levelled the match with a big serve on set point.

The momentum continued for Radek, breaking immediately in the opening stages of the decider: Murray saved the first break point with an ace, but a two-hander gifted Stepanek the key-second opportunity. His serves were to much for Murray squandering a serie of returns all over the place except back into play. The Czeh broke to 5-2 when Murray served his econd double fault. But put two hits long, netted a forehand before being counter-broken after a service return winner. The come back was too little too late and Stepanek went through to the last eight at the second match point.

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