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November 11, 2009

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Davydenko packs off Becker in Paris

SIXTH-SEEDED Nikolay Davydenko of Russia moved closer to qualifying for next month's eight-man ATP World Tour Finals by beating Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-2, 6-1 yesterday in the second round of the Paris Masters.

Davydenko, who broke his opponent five times and saved the four break points he faced, is one of the seven players who can still qualify for the season-ending event in London.

Fernando Verdasco, Robin Soderling, Fernando Gonzalez, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Radek Stepanek and Marin Cilic are also in the running.

The 28-year-old Davydenko, who won the Paris Masters in 2006, needs to reach the semifinals to secure one of the two remaining spots.

The Russian said he didn't feel under more pressure going into this week.

"There are three guys who need to win this tournament to qualify," said Davydenko, who has won four titles this season. "It won't be easy for the likes of Tsonga, Soderling or Verdasco and it makes me feel good."

Davydenko won 71 percent of points on serve and had five aces. He will next face either Soderling or Ivo Karlovic of Croatia.

Nicola Almagro of Spain defeated Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4 to advance to a second-round match against second-seeded Rafael Nadal.

Tsonga was to play Albert Montanes of Spain later yesterday. The Frenchman, who retired in the first round of the Valencia Open last week with a wrist injury, must defend his title in Paris without facing Verdasco in the final to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals.

"I played (in training) earlier today and everything went fine," Tsonga said. "I'm happy to come back here. I have a lot of good memories."

On Monday, former world No. 1 Marat Safin, in his final tournament before retiring, squeezed past French qualifier Thierry Ascione 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 in his first-round match.

Tomas Berdych, the 2005 champ, beat French qualifier Vincent Millot 6-3, 7-6 (4) after serving 10 aces and breaking three times.

The 247th-ranked Millot wasted a 5-2 lead in the second set and his Czech opponent finished the match with an ace on his first match point. Berdych, ranked 20th, will next face 14th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain.

Viktor Troicki of Serbia benefited from Paul-Henri Mathieu's calf injury to advance and will face 13th-seeded Stepanek. Mathieu, who reached the Hamburg final this year, failed to convert a set point and retired when trailing 7-6 (4), 3-0.

"It's a shame because it was very close and I had some good opportunities to break him," Mathieu said. "But I suddenly felt a pain in my calf after a run and it was difficult for me to keep going."

Andreas Seppi of Italy beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 6-3, and Ivo Karlovic of Croatia served 21 aces in a 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory over Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.

John Isner of the United States saved three match points before beating Colombian qualifier Alejandro Falla to 4-6, 7-6 (10), 7-5. Former winner Sebastien Grosjean of France, ranked 705th after undergoing shoulder surgery last year, lost 7-6 (2), 6-4 to Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia.

Lukasz Kubot of Poland defeated Andreas Beck of Germany 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, and Montanes of Spain topped Victor Hanescu of Romania 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).


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