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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Nalbandian, Tsonga set up Masters Cup showdown

Nalbandian, Tsonga set up Masters Cup showdown

November 02, 2008 09:57 IST

Argentine David Nalbandian and France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will battle it out for the last Masters Cup spot in the final of the Paris Masters after winning their semi-final matches on Saturday.

Nalbandian battled for a 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Russian world number six Nikolay Davydenko, while local favourite Tsonga advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of James Blake.

The result ended the American's hopes of qualifying for the season-ending tournament.

Tsonga's victory means that Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who was eliminated earlier in the week here, qualified for the eight-man contest in Shanghai.

He joined Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Davydenko at the tournament, which will start on Nov. 9.

"It's crazy. I'm there. In spite of the three hours (spent on court) yesterday I told myself 'I'm not tired, I'm strong'," said Tsonga, who needed almost three hours to beat Andy Roddick on Friday.

"I was lucky I broke serve early in both sets. Then I could just concentrate on my service games. I did not expect to play so well today. I hope I'll play another great match tomorrow."


Tsonga, who at 23 will make his first appearance in a Masters Series final, got off to a firing start, racing to a 3-1 lead after breaking to love in the third game.

He then held serve to bag the set when Blake, who did not create a single break chance in the match, sent a forehand long.

The Australian Open runner-up maintained a high standard of play to break again early in the second set as Blake, who managed only three points on Tsonga's first serve throughout, looked dejected.

Tsonga ended Blake's ordeal on his first match point.

Nalbandian, trying to become the first player to claim back-to-back titles at Bercy, won the first two games to love and allowed Davydenko 13 points en route to taking the opening set after 28 minutes with a service winner.

Nalbandian kept up the pressure as Davydenko was forced to save two break points in the first game of the second set before dropping serve in the third.

The Russian, who beat Nalbandian in a Davis Cup semi-final rubber in September, picked up his game to steal Nalbandian's serve in the fourth and 12th games and level the contest.

Davydenko fired a string of unforced errors to surrender his serve in the seventh game of the third set and Nalbandian kept his focus to wrap up victory on his second match point.

"I knew that at one moment, he would play much better than that (in the first set)," said Nalbandian.

"I knew it could become very difficult and maybe I relaxed a bit too much. He played better from the second set."

Nalbandian added he still had not made up his mind whether he would travel to Shanghai if he qualified for the Masters Cup.

"I'm weighing the pros and cons," said the Argentine, who does not want his participation in China to interfere with his preparations for the Davis Cup final against Spain later this month.

The tournament lost top seeds Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer when the duo pulled out injured on Friday.

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