Federer back on track for fourth title by denying Davydenko

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The Independent Online

Roger Federer got his quest for a fourth Masters Cup title back on track with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Nikolay Davydenko, of Russia, here yesterday.

Following Federer on court, Andy Roddick became the first player to book a semi-final place at the season-ending event in Shanghai after crushing the Chilean, Fernando Gonzalez, 6-1, 6-4.

Federer, stunned by Gonzalez in his round-robin opener on Monday, was again below his best but he was still good enough to eliminate Davydenko from the tournament for the year's top eight players.

"It was a different situation coming back from losing," shrugged the Swiss world No 1, who had never lost a round-robin match at the Masters Cup before being ambushed by Gonzalez. "Here you lose and you play another top 10 guy. This was a top-four guy so it doesn't get any easier. Anything can happen in the men's game. You're a little bit off, you're a little bit tired, you'll lose right away."

Federer, who has a 14-1 record against Roddick, must beat the American tomorrow to avoid an early exit. Yesterday he struggled to overcome an opponent he had beaten in all their previous 10 meetings.

Federer, who is going for a fourth title in the last five years at the tournament, did just enough to take a scrappy first set despite 22 unforced errors. He broke to lead 5-3, then dropped his own serve but restored normal service in the next game, breaking again to win the set when Davydenko missed an easy smash.

Federer raised his game in the second set, a forehand rocket giving him a break at 3-1, and he kept the lead to kick-start his challenge.

Gonzalez suffered a letdown after his upset over Federer, Roddick steam-rollering the Chilean in just 65 minutes to reach the semi-finals for the third time in four appearances.

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