Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco closed in on spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in contrasting fashion at the Paris Masters today.
As the sixth and seventh seeds, respectively, the pair received byes into the second round, and Davydenko wasted little time in trouncing Benjamin Becker 6-2 6-1.
A tense-looking Verdasco had a much tougher time against Italy’s Andreas Seppi, though, losing the first set having been a break up before recovering to win 6-7 (3/7) 6-4 6-4.
Davydenko went into the final event of the regular season in pole position to secure one of the two remaining places for the prestigious eight-man tournament at the O2 in London.
And Verdasco’s victory means Radek Stepanek and Marin Cilic cannot now qualify, with Robin Soderling, Fernando Gonzalez and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga the only men in with a chance of overhauling the pair.
Davydenko, who won the Paris title in 2006 and often finds his best form at the end of the season, said: “It was the same for me last year and the year before.
“Four guys need to win this tournament; if somebody (reached) the final, it’s not enough,” he added on atpworldtour.com.
In first-round action, French qualifier David Guez surprisingly beat Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-4 while another Swiss player, Marco Chiudinelli, could not build on his run to the semi-finals in Basle last week as he lost 6-2 6-4 to Nicolas Almagro, who will face second seed Rafael Nadal next.
Juan Monaco set up a second-round clash against Novak Djokovic with a 7-6 (8/6) 7-5 victory over Jeremy Chardy while home hope Julien Benneteau saw off Philipp Petzschner 4-6 7-5 6-3 and now faces Roger Federer.