Davydenko and Verdasco chase seat at the top table

  • @PaulN54

Six places on board the boat heading for the O2 Arena are already booked, while Fernando Verdasco and Nikolay Davydenko could secure their seats as early as tonight.

With the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals beginning in 11 days, this week's Paris Masters tournament is the last chance for the players to earn the ranking points they need to make the elite eight-man field for the season-ending finale. The tournament stands behind only the four Grand Slam events in terms of prestige. A total of $5m (£3m) in prize money is on offer, with $1.63m going to the winner, provided he wins all three of his group matches as well as his semi-final and the final.

Staged in Britain for the first time, the event prides itself on the star treatment it gives to the players, who will live in the lap of luxury at their central London hotel and commute to the O2 Arena by riverboat. With more than 250,000 tickets sold for the week-long tournament, that could be the best way to avoid traffic congestion en route to the arena.

The field is composed of the eight players who have amassed the most ranking points in the year. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick have already qualified, while Davydenko and Verdasco currently occupy seventh and eighth places in the list. Robin Soderling, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fernando Gonzalez could yet secure one of the berths but would have to reach the final or win the tournament to do so.

Soderling and Gonzalez kept alive their chances of qualifying with victories yesterday over Ivo Karlovic and John Isner respectively. In today's third round Soderling faces Davydenko, Gonzalez plays Del Potro and Tsonga takes on his fellow Frenchman, Gilles Simon.