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Davydenko downs Stepanek for Shanghai semi spot

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:47

Nikolay Davydenko overcame a second-set slump to cruise past Radek Stepanek 6-1 4-6 6-1 and reach the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters 1000.

Victory also took the world No.8 closer to securing a spot at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals – not that the Russian is overly concerned about qualifying for the elite event.

Davydenko – who yesterday saw off No.10 seed Fernando Gonzalez 6-3 7-5 – said he would not be heartbroken should he fail to qualify for London’s eight-man field, and would instead just enjoy the time off.

“Like my wife said already, ‘you’re already top-15 this year. Why do you want to think about London?’” he told reporters. “I’ll enjoy a holiday if I don’t reach London.

“You can lose your mind worrying and lose in every tournament in the first round,” he added. “If I don’t reach London, it’s good. I have more time to spend with my family and prepare for next season – it’s been a long season.”

Davydenko is among six players still in contention for a spot in the November 22-29 tournament along with Andy Roddick, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco, Fernando Gonzalez, Robin Soderling and Gilles Simon.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro have already secured their spots for the event, to be held at London’s O2 Arena.

Yesterday, Nadal and Djokovic booked their quarter-final berths in Shanghai with ease. The Spaniard, vowing to overcome his semi-final crash last week in Beijing, crushed Tommy Robredo 6-1 6-4, but was less than satisfied with his overall performance.

“I’m playing well, really well, but I had two terrible games in the start of the second set,” said Nadal. “That’s what I have to improve if I want to win against the top players. Yesterday I had a similar thing. It can’t happen tomorrow.”

Djokovic continued his rich late-season form to beat Rainer Schuettler 6-4 6-2, finishing the job with back-to-back aces.

“I’ve been working on physical strength and fitness a lot in the last couple of months, and it’s been paying off,” said Djokovic, champion in Beijing last week.“It’s one of the key roles in situations like this.

“When you are playing week after week, it’s important to be physically strong, and that gives you an advantage over your opponents.”

After strong showings in recent weeks, both French seeds were knocked out on Thursday as Roland Garros finalist Robin Soderling beat a frustrated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 6-3.

The Swede produced 23 winners and set up three match points with his eighth ace to beat last week’s Japan Open champ in just under an hour.

No.11 seed Gael Monfils lasted only 37 minutes before retiring with a back injury while trailing 6-2 3-0 to Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic.

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