SHANGHAI // Sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko got a sixth win in six meetings against Fernando Gonzalez to reach the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters with a 6-3, 7-5 victory today. As the debate about the length of the men's season continued, however, Stanislas Wawrinka and Gael Monfils became the sixth and seventh players to retire injured from a match at the $3.24 million (Dh11.8m) tournament.
Davydenko has only ever lost one set to the 10th-seeded Gonzalez and never looked liked conceding another as he defused the Chilean's serve and fierce forehand with his mobility along the baseline. "Returning is very important," said the 28-year-old Russian, who reached the Masters Cup final here last year. "If he has a second serve, I know I have a 90 per cent chance to win the point. He has good motivation when he makes first serve and winners from the forehand."
Swede Robin Soderling later upset error-prone fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-3 in their third-round encounter under the open roof of the Qizhong central arena. Tsonga, who won his third title of the season last week in Tokyo, was consistent only in missing his lines and smashed his racket on the court in frustration after fluffing two volleys at the net on successive points in the second set.
Another miscued forehand gave Soderling a break for a 3-1 lead and, although the fired-up Frenchman broke straight back, another string of errors gave the Swede a second break. Soderling was not going to let his opponent off the hook twice and three stinging aces helped the ninth seed serve out to love for victory two games later. Davydenko, Tsonga, Soderling and Gonzalez are all still in with a chance of claiming one of three spots still up for grabs at the season-ending championships in London next month.
Wawrinka, who reached the last 16 when fourth seed Andy Roddick was unable to finish their second-round tie, was losing 3-6, 7-6, 4-2 to Czech Radek Stepanek when abdominal pains caused him to withdraw. French 11th seed Monfils was trailing 30-year-old Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 6-2, 3-0 when he called it quits because of a back injury. Ljubicic will face Spanish top seed Rafael Nadal after the world No 2 overcame stubborn second-set resistance from compatriot Tommy Robredo to reach the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals 6-1 ,6-4. Nadal, still not back at his best after an injury-disrupted second half of the season, cantered through the first set but lost his serve at the start of the second. The 23-year-old Australian Open champion is nothing if not a fighter, however, and he battled back into the set in a marathon third game before breaking again for a 5-4 lead and serving out for victory. Second seed Novak Djokovic continued his imperious form with a 6-4, 6-2 thrashing of Rainer Schuettler to reach the quarter-finals. Djokovic, who will move up to No 3 in the world next week, proved in winning the season-ending Masters Cup here last year that he has the legs to outlast his rivals. The 22-year-old Serbian also won the China Open title in Beijing last weekend and his 84-minute victory over qualifier Schuettler was his ninth in a row on Chinese soil.