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Tennis Masters Cup: Saturday preview

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 15:03

And then there were four. Semi-final Saturday has arrived, and after Roger Federer’s elimination on Friday, there will be a new Tennis Masters Cup champion.

Andy Murray is the only player with a perfect unbeaten record in Shanghai – including a thrilling victory against Roger Federer in his final group match, which ended the defending champion’s season.

Awaiting him in the semis is Nikolay Davydenko, the only man left in the draw who has been here before. Like Murray, the Russian reached the semis on his first visit to the Masters Cup in 2005, losing to eventual champion David Nalbandian.

Murray will be back on court just 20 hours after his three-hour contest against Federer…

But while Davydenko has had a day off to prepare, Murray will be back on court just 20 hours after the gruelling three-hour contest against Federer. Quite what effect such a short recovery time will have on his match against Davydenko is anybody’s guess – but the British No.1 wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Although I’m going to probably be a bit tired,” Murray said in his midnight press conference, “a win against him in a match like that is worth as much – maybe not as much – but similar to winning the Masters Cup.”

The head-to-head doesn’t help matters. Murray and Davydenko share three matches apiece, including a match each this season.

First up, though will be the showdown between Novak Djokovic and Gilles ‘pied de lapin’ Simon. First, the Frenchman qualifies as a result of Nadal dropping out, avoids facing Andy Roddick in the groups and progressed only because Murray beats Feds.

Okay, he also beat the world No.2, but it has been a semi-charmed ride for the 23-year-old. Djokovic, in contrast, has played some of his finest tennis this season – in fits and starts.

Defeat to a pumped-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga didn’t prevent the Serb qualifying, but might have uncovered flaws in his armoury. Whether Simon has enough left in the tank after a lengthy end to his season seems unlikely, but with his luck of late, perhaps he’s set for another upset…

There’s probably nobody the Bryans would want to face less than Fyrstenberg and Matkowski…

While the title (and some pocket change) is all that remains on offer in the singles draw, there is more at stake in the doubles.

The Bryan brothers are desperate to cling on to their No.1 status, but current champion Daniel Nestor and his 2008 partner Nenad Zimonjic are still in the hunt. The draw has kept them separate – for now.

The Americans face Polish pair Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, who like GIlles Simon were bumped up into the Masters Cup draw following the withdrawal of Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich, and have made the most of their shot.

And there’s probably nobody the Bryans would want to face less. The Poles have only beaten them once – but that was at the Paris Masters, just over a week ago. Can they scupper the Americans again?

The first match of the day pits Nestor and Zimonjic, the reigning Wimbledon champions, against the South American duo of Pable Cuevas and Luis Horna, who earned their berth in Shanghai by virtue of their Roland Garros victory over the Canadian and Serb.

Saturday order of play (1.30pm start)

Nestor & Zimonjic vs Cuevas & Horna
Bryan & Bryan vs Fyrstenberg & Matkowski

Not Before 5:00pm
Djokovic vs Simon

Not Before 7:30pm
Murray vs Davydenko

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