Davydenko masters dogged Nadal

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The Independent Online

Rafael Nadal played in his first final for five months here yesterday but still has some way to go before he finds his best form following the knee and stomach injuries that so disrupted his summer.

The world No 2 was well beaten by Nikolay Davydenko, who won the final of the Shanghai Masters 7-6, 6-3, to take a major step towards securing one of the last three places in next month's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.

There is no opponent better equipped to test a player's fitness than Davydenko who is devastatingly quick around the court and strikes the ball with great consistency. Nadal managed just nine winners to the 28-year-old Russian's 35.

Although Davydenko looks certain to finish the year outside the world's top five for the first time since 2004, he is enjoying a fine finish to a season disrupted by injury. Having followed up his victory in Kuala Lumpur a fortnight ago by claiming his third Masters title, he should rise to No 7 in today's updated rankings list.

There were flashes of the dogged brilliance that has characterised Nadal's play in recent years, but in regularly using slice on his backhand the Spaniard allowed Davydenko to dominate too many points. Nevertheless Nadal described it as "a positive defeat".

The Spaniard had his chances, fighting back from a break down in the first set to force a set point, which Davydenko saved when serving at 4-5.

*Laura Robson, the 2008 junior Wimbledon champion, enjoyed her best senior win when beating world No 79 Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-2 in qualifying for this week's Luxembourg Open.

Britain's Alex Bogdanovic beat Croatia's Ivan Dodig to win the Challenger tournament in Kolding, Denmark. Dodig, who was disqualified for verbal abuse of a linesman after Bogdanovic had levelled the match by winning the second set, smashed the vase he had been awarded as runner-up as he left the court.