Friday, October 24, 2008

Shanghai Contenders Watch: Blake, Roddick Stumble

The semis have been decided in this week's tourneys in Basel, Lyon and St. Petersburg, and many seeds have stumbled along the way.

Andy Roddick (no. 6 in the race) failed to clinch a Masters Cup berth in Lyon, as he fell to Sweden's Robin Soderling 7-6, 7-6 in the quarterfinals on Friday. The American will have to wait till next week's Masters Series in Paris to try to seal the deal.

"He played better than me in the rallies but this was a good preparation for Bercy... It's a long season... Whoever tells you he's not tired is lying,"
said Roddick after his loss.

James Blake (no. 10 in the race) also succumbed to a similar fate when he lost to Spain's Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 7-6, in the Basel quarterfinals on Friday. Blake is now 31 points behind 9th placed Gilles Simon.

Meanwhile, Simon managed to increase his chances of grabbing a Masters Cup berth when he reached the Lyon semifinals by defeating fellow Frenchman Josselin Ouanna 6-3, 7-5 on Friday. Simon can move within 3 points of 6th-placed Roddick if wins the title in Lyon this week.

Also still alive in this week's action is 8th-placed Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine, who is having an incredible season, ousted Igor Andreev 6-4, 7-5 in the Basel quarterfinals and will next face his compatriot, David Nalbandian, in a repeat of last week's Madrid quarterfinal, where Del Potro demolished Nalbandian. Del Potro has now won 35 out of his last 38 matches and is 15 race points behind Roddick.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who started the week at number 13 in the race, beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Lyon quarterfinals, to set up a semfinal against Julien Benneteau (OK Benneteau's quarterfinal match isn't over yet, but he's up 6-3, 4-1, so I assume he's gonna win).

Fernando Verdasco also still has a chance to add some race points to his tally as he reached the semifinals in St. Petersburg where he faces top seed, Andy Murray, on Saturday. Murray beat Verdasco in the final of St. Petersburg last year.

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