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Page last updated at 08:25 GMT, Sunday, 9 November 2008

Davydenko v Tsonga as it happened

Masters Cup

Gold Group:


6-7 (6-8) 6-4 7-6 (7-0)

To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Piers Newbery

Third set:

1118: "If the four players tomorrow are as good as today, we're in for a treat. I think Murray feels he has Roddick's number at the moment and if he serves well I fancy him to win, although Roddick is tough indoors, and I fancy Federer to win."
Times correspondent Neil Harman on 5 Live Sports Extra

Davydenko 7-6 (7-0) Tsonga
After all that..... Tsonga double-faults and makes an unforced error to slip 3-0 down and never gets another sniff as Davydenko races through seven straight points to seal an excellent win. That wraps it up for day one, we'll be back at 1000 GMT on Monday for Federer v Simon, followed by Murray v Roddick.

Davydenko 6-6 Tsonga
Tsonga plays the cutest of drop volleys that just scrapes the net, thanks possibly to the Frenchman's extravagant leap as he watches it clip the tape, and he holds to 15 to force a decisive tie-break.

Davydenko 6-5 Tsonga
Davydenko guarantees himself at least a tie-break as Tsonga fails to make much impression, despite one blistering return.

1106: "It's all getting very tense out there. I think Davydenko wants to concentrate on doing what he can and not even looking at Tsonga."
Times correspondent Neil Harman on 5 Live Sports Extra

Davydenko 5-5 Tsonga
More drama - Tsonga digs deep at 30-30 to find a second-serve winner, which must hurt Davydenko, and the Frenchman thumps another big serve to level.

Davydenko 5-4 Tsonga
I think we could all see that coming. Davydenko opens with three successive unforced errors and looks like a rabbit in the headlights. However, Tsonga makes two errors when winners were there for the taking and we're back to deuce. Davydenko obliges with another error and Tsonga grabs the break back when he draws his man into the net and forces the error. Great stuff.

Davydenko 5-3 Tsonga
Tsonga pulls an outrageous drop shot out of the bag when match-point down and it just about works. The Frenchman then scrambles for his life in the point of the day at deuce and Davydenko eventually nets a mid-court forehand. The Russian is fuming when Tsonga holds and the pressure is on to hold one last time.

1050: It's"Livin' On A Prayer Time" at the changeover - I think someone's stolen the playlist from one of my school discos, which should mean we'll be wrapping up with "Careless Whisper" in a few minutes' time. I wonder if Davydenko's dad is waiting in the car park to pick him up.

Davydenko 5-2 Tsonga
Davydenko makes a beautiful backhand pass down the line for 15-15 and he's looked very impressive at times today. He's also looked a bit fragile, as he does with a double-fault that pegs him back to 30-30. Tsonga has a great chance with a mid-court forehand but he clips the net and it leaps outside the tram lines. Davydenko wallops an ace and he's one game away.

Davydenko 4-2 Tsonga
The crowd try and gee up Tsonga as he hangs on to Davydenko's coat-tails with another difficult hold. Davydenko does earn a break point but goes long with a forehand. Meanwhile, the 5 Live Sports Extra commentary box is apparently filling up with smoke as their Chinese counterparts nip out, en masse, for a communal fag break.

Davydenko 4-1 Tsonga
Davydenko continues to serve superbly and sweeps through a love game, smacking his 10th ace of the day along the way. Where Huey Lewis failed, maybe Robbie Williams and his "Let Me Entertain You" can inspire the Frenchman. Where would event organisers be without that hit from the former Take That, er, singer?

Davydenko 3-1 Tsonga
"Who wants it?" you might cry. The errors start to flow from both men but Tsonga squeaks through another tortuous game, from his point of view, to just about keep the match alive.

Davydenko 3-0 Tsonga
It's five games in a row now for Davydenko, and that was the easiest of the lot. Tsonga has completely lost his way and looks very demoralised. Hopefully, the sound of Huey Lewis & The News giving it some "Hip to be Square" will inspire him on the changeover. My brother went to see them in concert in about 1986. Ha ha.

Davydenko 2-0 Tsonga
Davydenko makes it six points in a row to get to 0-30 up and despite an exquisite drop volley from Tsonga, it's soon 15-40 and break points for the Russian. Tsonga makes a backhand error and it's running away from the Frenchman now. It's my fault for comparing him to Sampras.

Davydenko 1-0 Tsonga
Davydenko moves ahead for the first time today and Tsonga looks as flat as a pancake.

1020: "Re the official TMC photo - moody indeed; but where's Roddick?! Loving the commentary, as usual, Piers."
From Chloe via text on 81111 (As usual, flattery will get you everywhere - or at least into a text commentary. I'd just noticed the absence of Roddick too and have fired off an email to the ATP to get to the bottom of this.)

Second set:

Davydenko 6-4 Tsonga
The crowd inside the Qi Zhong Stadium enjoy the unlikely sounds of Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel singing "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" on the changeover. The players are clearly inspired by the Deptford-born 1970s songsmith as we get another cracker of a game.

Tsonga is up against it at 30-30 and Davydenko dictates the next rally, prompting a Tsonga error to earn set point. The Russian smacks a backhand return down the line that Tsonga challenges in vain. We're all square.

Davydenko 5-4 Tsonga
Another straightforward hold for Davydenko and we look to be on course for a second tie-break.

Davydenko 4-4 Tsonga
Tsonga crunches a forehand into the net for 30-30 and then gets a bit lucky with a mishit smash winner on his way to taking the game.

Davydenko 4-3 Tsonga
Now we have a Davydenko drive-volley winner followed by a second-serve ace. Curiouser and curiouser.

Davydenko 3-3 Tsonga
For the first time today, Tsonga is under real pressure and wobbling at 15-40. Davydenko misses with a forehand and the Frenchman escapes, closing it out with a Samprasesque slam-dunk smash that gets the crowd going.

Davydenko 3-2 Tsonga
Talk in the 5 Live Sports Extra commentary box in Shanghai has turned to lunch and hot pot, dim sum and the like. This is not helping a man who has yet to have breakfast. It is also irrelevant to the main action, which sees Davydenko move ahead again with some more solid serving.

Davydenko 2-2 Tsonga
Tsonga regains his focus in time to race through a solid hold to 15.

Davydenko 2-1 Tsonga
Another wacky game sees Tsonga let a break point slip away, after the schizophrenic Davydenko mixes big first serves with some woeful volleying. It's probably not the best place to try a completely new game-plan. Still, Davydenko comes through and Tsonga looks furious as he heads to the chair and tears off his shirt.

Davydenko 1-1 Tsonga
Who'd have thought it? Davydenko plays a blinder, making a succession of punishing returns and breaking to love with a forehand winner down the line. Mrs Davydenko looks a bit more cheerful than her brother-in-law.

0939: "I think the high backhand volley he missed in the tie-break was still affecting Davydenko there, he looked rocked back on his heels."
Times correspondent Neil Harman on 5 Live Sports Extra

Davydenko 0-1 Tsonga
Things are looking grim for Davydenko when he slips 0-40 down, just as Tsonga did in the opening game of the match. That time the Frenchman fought his way out of trouble but Davydenko contain Tsonga, who thumps a forehand winner on his second break points. Davydenko's brother/coach in the stands looks suitably miserable.

First set:

Davydenko 6-7 (6-8) Tsonga
Ouch. That is an absolute shocker for Davydenko. He starts the tie-break like a man possessed - possibly by the ghost of Pat Rafter. The Russian storms the net at every opportunity and gets the early break at 2-1 but cannot capitalise. Tsonga recovers for 3-3 with a brave sortie to the net and earns two set points after a Davydenko forehand error.

It's not over, though, and the Russian recovers from 4-6, saving the second set point with a fizzing backhand winner. It's all to no avail, however, as he sticks a high backhand volley into the bottom of the net at 6-7 down. The Tsonga camp are on their feet in the stands and their man is in charge now.

Davydenko 6-6 Tsonga
The first sniff of a break comes when Davydenko double-faults to go 15-30 down but he gets back to 30-30, and Tsonga then misses a backhand down the line by a whisker. Davydenko thinks he's hit an ace for the game but the computer says 'no' and he follows up with another double-fault for deuce. After a jittery couple of serves a fantastic rally ensues, Davydenko eventually taking it with a smash, and the Russian takes the game with a big serve, big forehand one-two.

Davydenko 5-6 Tsonga
Tsonga edges ahead again with a hold to 15 and we're heading for a tie-break.

Davydenko 5-5 Tsonga
Davydenko holds to 15 and receives barely a ripple of applause. The tennis is great so far but the atmosphere is rather lacking.

Davydenko 4-5 Tsonga
Tsonga makes a couple of unforced errors from 40-0 to bring a little bit of pressure but Davydenko kindly responds with a mistake of his own and the Frenchman holds.

Davydenko 4-4 Tsonga
Tsonga calls for the first Hawkeye challenge of the day when Davydenko goes close with a forehand at 30-15 up - but the Russian caught the line and goes on to hold with a rather awkward looking backhand volley.

Tennis Masters Cup group photo (ATP)
Tennis Masters Cup group photo (ATP)
0900: Just in from our friends at the ATP is the official Tennis Masters Cup group photo, for those of you with sufficient technology to view it here - moody, innit? We'll be putting a larger version in all its glory into the gallery later.

Davydenko 3-4 Tsonga
More swashbuckling stuff from Tsonga, who piles a drive-volley down the line, smacks an ace and then angles away a backhand volley for a superb hold.

Davydenko 3-3 Tsonga
Having lavished praise on Tsonga, good old Nikolay is doing his bit down the other end and, after another easy hold, is leading the ace count 4-2.

Davydenko 2-3 Tsonga
Tsonga is now rattling through his service games and he is a hard man to stop if the serve is working well. He's reminiscent of Marat Safin (when the Russian was good) and even has a touch of Pete Sampras about him when he attacks the net. He'll almost certainly lose in straight sets now.

Davydenko 2-2 Tsonga
Davydenko finds two aces of his own to stay on level terms. Meanwhile, Djokovic is delighted to have won his first-ever match at the Masters Cup after losing all three last year. "Last year I didn't have a lot of success, I lost every single match I played, but this time is different," he said after beating Del Potro.

0847: "It's fascinating to see how the young players react at the Masters Cup. So far, Tsonga has carried on the tennis he has played everywhere else. He doesn't hold anything back and it's terrific to watch."
Times correspondent Neil Harman on 5 Live Sports Extra

Davydenko 1-2 Tsonga
Cripes. Tsonga finds his range on serve and absolutely creams a couple of aces that draw gasps from the otherwise very quiet crowd. Davydenko loses his range off the forehand and it's a comfortable hold for Tsonga.

Davydenko 1-1 Tsonga
Davdydenko is looking pretty good, cracking a couple of winners off both forehand and backhand and taking the game with a drop-shot that Tsonga cannot return. Unusually deft stuff from the Russian.

Davydenko 0-1 Tsonga
Tsonga may be the big draw here but Davydenko makes the stronger start, racing to 0-40 on the Frenchman's serve. Tsonga wakes up in time and gets back to deuce, thanks to a thumping smash and an ace. Davydenko has Tsonga moving all over the place but J-W eventually holds - a great game.

Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Roger Federer
Roddick, Murray and Federer get togged up in Shanghai
0833: One of the joys of the Masters Cup is the annual ritual of making the best eight tennis players in the world don fancy dress for publicity purposes. When it used to be played in Houston we got the pleasure of seeing Andre Agassi in a massive stetson hat, and in the early years in Shanghai we enjoyed Davydenko dressed in traditional Chinese garb.

This year they have gone for rather disappointing shiny suits but in 2009 the tournament will be in London and I'm already thinking.... beefeaters!

0829: The players are out - Tsonga wins the toss and will serve first.

0825: Our man Murray will be in action on Monday, at 1200 GMT, against Andy Roddick, after Roger Federer has taken on Gilles Simon. We will be covering all of the Scot's matches via live text and anything else that takes our fancy, but you can hear commentary on every single match with 5 Live Sports Extra.

0820: Morning all, and welcome to day one of the finale to the men's tennis year. Lord knows why but the rest of the world is persisting with the quaint custom of having their own time, meaning an early start for us today.

The opening match has just finished and Novak Djokovic enjoyed a battling win over Juan Martin del Potro. We are all set for the extrovert, unpredictable and charismatic Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against.... Nikolay Davydenko. Should be quite a clash of styles.

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Masters Cup photos
07 Nov 08 |  Tennis

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