Andy Roddick, Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer claimed the remaining qualifying places for the ATP World Tour Finals after Frenchman Gael Monfils ended Fernando Verdasco’s hopes at the Paris Masters on Thursday.
Verdasco needed to reach the final to have any hope of qualifying for the eight-man London tournament but Monfils rallied from one set down and saved two match points in a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2), 7-5 win over the Spaniard.
Roddick reached the quarterfinals by beating Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-3, 7-6 (8), putting Jurgen Melzer out of contention in the race for the year-end tournament in London this month.
Melzer, who beat the seventh-seeded Ferrer 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 to reach the quarters, needed to win in Paris and have Roddick lose in the third round.
The eight players making the ATP Finals from November 21-28 are Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Berdych, Ferrer and Roddick.
All but Berdych have already featured at the elite tournament.
“I think it’s a goal at the beginning of every year,” said Roddick, who qualified for the finals for an eight consecutive year. “It’s certainly an accomplishment every year. I think it’s an honour to qualify once, and then each time I think kind of you realise how tough it actually is. You can’t just play well for one week. It’s the culmination of doing it week after week on tour.”
Roddick broke Gulbis in the second game of the first set after the Latvian sent a forehand wide, and relied on his strong serve throughout as he saved the single break point he faced with a backhand volley at 4-2.
Both players held serve in the second until the tiebreaker, where Gulbis saved three match points before Roddick moved up 9-8 after retrieving a drop shot, with the American sealing his win when Gulbis buried a backhand in the net.
Monfils saved the two match points at 5-4 in the decider with a couple of service winners, including a second serve on the line, then broke in the 11th game after Verdasco double faulted and put an easy forehand volley into the net.
The Frenchman fired 11 aces and delighted the home crowd with his usual spectacular slides while Verdasco made 51 unforced errors.
“Tennis-wise it was not perfect, but I found the mental resources to stay in that match,” said Monfils, who played with a minor knee injury. “I’m trying not to think about the pain. I’m able to forget everything when I’m on the court.”
Monfils is competing for a spot in France’s Davis Cup team for next month’s final against Serbia in Belgrade and has been advised by the team’s captain Guy Forget not to take too many risks.
“This is a Masters 1000 tournament and a place where I love to play,” Monfils said. “I also think I have to be careful and sometimes, I’m diving on the floor and I’m thinking - Oh, I shouldn’t have done that.”
Ferrer said he struggled on the very fast surface used in Paris and expects to be more at ease in London on a slower court.
I’m a baseliner, so I prefer slower courts,” Ferrer said. “I’m physically fit and it’s a nice feeling to qualify for a second Masters Cup.”
Keywords: Paris Masters