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Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Davydenko closes on London place

Nikolay Davydenko
Davydenko is aiming to join the top eight players in London

Nikolay Davydenko is on the verge of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals after winning his opening match at the Paris Masters 1000.

The sixth seed thrashed Benjamin Becker 6-2 6-1 to reach the third round.

He can now only miss out on the eight-man London event if Robin Soderling, Fernando Gonzalez or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga win the Paris title.

Fernando Verdasco also closed in on qualification with a hard-fought 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-4 win over Andreas Seppi.

Tsonga, who pulled out of the Valencia Open last week with a wrist injury, opened the defence of his title with a 6-1 7-5 win over Albert Montanes.

"I have to win the tournament to qualify, as long as Verdasco doesn't make the final," said Tsonga, who faces compatriot Gilles Simon next after the 11th seed's battling 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4) win over Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic.

"I love it here. I feel light, I feel there are no constraints and I'm just happy to go to the stadium every morning."

Paris is the final event in which players can gain points in the race to qualify for the World Tour Finals, which are being held in London for the first time this year.

Davydenko, who plays Soderling or Ivo Karlovic next, currently lies seventh, with Verdasco eighth.

"There are guys here who need to win this tournament [to qualify], just getting to the final is not enough," said Davydenko.

"It's a good feeling. With everyone here, it's a very tough draw and it's not so easy for Tsonga or Soderling or Verdasco to reach the final and win the tournament."

Verdasco's second-round win means Radek Stepanek and Marin Cilic's slim hopes of qualifying are over.

"I need to win all the matches I can to qualify for myself and not wait to see how other players do," said Verdasco.

"It was my big challenge for this year and this week is the last week. After this, everything will be decided. So I'm giving my best in the last week to try to do it."

Earlier on Tuesday, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal learnt their second-round opponents.

World number two Nadal will face fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro after he defeated Marco Chiudinelli 6-2 6-4, while Julien Benneteau booked a meeting with top seed Federer with a 4-6 7-5 6-3 win over Germany's Philipp Petzschner.

Those matches will be played on Wednesday, along with Andy Murray's opening match against James Blake.

Unheralded French qualifier David Guez, the world number 179, stunned Swiss world number 21 Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-4 to set up a second-round meeting with countryman Gael Monfils.

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see also
Safin starts final event with win
09 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray takes Valencia Open title
08 Nov 09 |  Tennis

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