Nikolay Davydenko claimed the penultimate spot in the ATP year-end field, as a loss by Spain’s Fernando Verdasco at the Paris Masters guaranteed the Russian a place in the concluding tennis tournament.
Second seed Rafael Nadal reached the last eight as he won a tight contest against fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, with Robredo failing to serve out the upset leading 5-4 in the third set Thursday.
Nadal’s win was his sixth in a row against Robredo and ran his record to 63-10 on the season as he looks for his first title since May.
Davydenko lost to Swede Robin Soderling 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in their third-round clash. But a later loss by Spaniard Fernando Verdasco to Croatian Marin Cilic, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, put Davydenko in for the Nov 22 start in London.
“My goal at the start of the season was to finish in the top 10, so I am very happy to have achieved that but also to have qualified,” said the Russian. “I have some good memories from playing in Shanghai over the past four years, including last year’s final, so I am looking forward to playing in London for the first time.”
Davydenko has a 53-16 record in 2009 despite missing three months to a left heel injury.
Andy Murray joined the scrap heap of seeds, losing to Radek Stepanek 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, a day after Roger Federer lost.
Murray managed 11 aces but was unable to prevent his experienced opponent from staging a comeback. He admitted that a match finish at nearly 2 am Thursday did not help his preparation against the tough Czech.
“It was gonna be difficult to come back and feel 100 per cent. It’s obviously a limited recovery after a long match,” said the fourth-seeded Murray, who won his sixth title of the season at the weekend in Valencia.
“In the first set, I didn’t feel like I played great. I won a lot of points with my serve. That was the case throughout the match. That was keeping me in the match. We got into long rallies, and I was making mistakes.”
Verdasco can do no more as he tries to reach the last of the qualifying spots for the eight-man ATP final.
Soderling and Paris holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga both stayed in the long-odds sprint with victories. Also chasing is Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.
Tsonga kept his slender chances alive with a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon, the 11th seed.
The French number one said he’s not thinking about anything but this week.
“I’m not here for the Masters, I’m here for Bercy. I will only be qualified if I win this tournament, so I’m not thinking about London,” Tsonga said. “I’m thinking about defending my title, or even more, about going to get a new title instead of thinking about London.”
Third seed Novak Djokovic, already into the year-end event, beat Arnaud Clement of France 6-2, 6-2 to make his top showing at Bercy after never going past the third round at the Bercy hall.
He will be the next obstacle for Soderling.