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Page last updated at 23:11 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Davydenko surges into semi-finals

ATP World Tour Finals
Venue: O2 Arena, London Date: 22-29 November
Tournament coverage: Live on BBC Two, 28/29 November, 1430 GMT; every match live on BBC Radio 5 live/5 live sports extra; live text commentaries on BBC Sport website; live coverage every day on Sky Sports

Nikolay Davydenko
Davydenko will now face Roger Federer - a player he has never beaten

By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at the O2 Arena

Nikolay Davydenko grabbed the last semi-final place at the ATP World Tour Finals with a battling win over Robin Soderling in the final round-robin match.

Davydenko knew he had to win to make the last four and he ended Soderling's unbeaten record in London with a 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-3 victory.

The result sees both men qualify from Group A and means defending champion Novak Djokovic goes out despite his earlier 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal.

Davydenko will play Roger Federer in Saturday's first semi-final at 1415 GMT, with Soderling taking on Juan Martin del Potro at 2045 GMT.

Asked if he felt he had enough time to prepare for taking on Federer - a man he has never beaten in 12 attempts - Davydenko joked: "No, I have no time, but it's a mistake from the ATP because these guys do the time of the semi-final."

606: DEBATE
Rob Waldorf

He added: "All 12 times I was believing I can win [against Federer]. Maybe I start to play better and Federer not so good, we'll see. I've played three great matches here and I would like to play the same way as today. I hope I can run well tomorrow and make no mistakes."

The last match of the round-robin stage may not have had the biggest names in the tournament but it had the form man in Soderling, and last year's runner-up in Davydenko.

Soderling only made it into the eight-man field when Andy Roddick withdrew with a knee injury and the Swede has taken full advantage.

At his best indoors, the 25-year-old had already guaranteed a semi-final place with straight-sets wins over both Nadal and Djokovic and he went into Friday's match as the only unbeaten player left in the tournament.

With almost £1m on offer to any player who can win all five matches, Soderling had arguably as much motivation as Davydenko.

The Russian knew that only a win would keep his hopes alive, making Friday's evening session considerably easier for both fans and players to understand than the previous night which saw home favourite Andy Murray go out on percentage of games won.

Soderling, who had won six of his nine previous matches against Davydenko, opened in typically powerful fashion, beginning and ending the first game with aces.

It was a surprise that Soderling was the first to face a break point but he held off Davydenko with a big serve-forehand combination in game seven, before the Russian came up with a rasping forehand followed by a service winner from 15-40 in the following game.

Robin Soderling
Soderling only made it into the event when Andy Roddick withdrew

Those were the only chances during the opening 12 games, and the first six points of the tie-break also went with serve until Soderling scrambled brilliantly to move 4-3 clear.

But far from heralding a purple patch from the Swede, it marked a run of three unforced errors that set up Davydenko to smash away his first set point.

Serve continued to dominate in the second set, with Davydenko getting the only early look at a break in game five only for Soderling to thunder down a 115mph second serve.

A beautiful backhand down the line served notice that Soderling was after the break himself in game nine and it finally came, to love, as Davydenko failed to deal with the depth of the eighth seed's groundstrokes.

Taking that set guaranteed Soderling would top the group and so avoid a Saturday afternoon clash with Federer, and he looked much the less motivated player in the final set.

Some desperately loose errors handed Davydenko a break to love for 4-2, and the Russian closed out the match in two hours and four minutes to gain some measure of revenge for last year's final defeat by knocking out Djokovic.

Soderling denied afterwards that he had stopped fighting in the final set but said he would have to improve considerably against Del Potro on Saturday.

The pair have met twice before, with Soderling winning indoors two years ago and Del Potro gaining revenge on hard courts at the start of 2009.

"It's going to be a tough match, for sure, he plays really well, serves big and he's hitting his forehand very well," said Soderling. "I'll have to play better than today.

"He's probably very confident now after beating Roger and I have to step it up at least one level from today, but I think I can do it."

In the final doubles round-robin match, second seeds Mike and Bob Bryan defeated Lukasz Kubot and Olivier Marach 6-3 6-4 to reach the semi-finals.



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see also
Soderling v Davydenko as it happened
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Nadal upbeat despite losing run
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Nadal v Djokovic as it happened
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray suffers Tour Finals exit
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Davydenko wins to knock out Nadal
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Nadal v Davydenko as it happened
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Federer prevails against Murray
24 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Soderling stuns Nadal in London
23 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray beats Del Potro in opener
22 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Federer wins after Verdasco scare
22 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray revels in London spotlight
22 Nov 09 |  Tennis
London hosts season climax
20 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Roddick pulls out of Tour Finals
17 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis


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