Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shanghai Contenders Watch: Wawrinka Crashes Out, The Rest All Advance

After Nikolay Davydenko snatched the 5th qualifying ticket to the year-end Masters Cup in Shanghai, the fight for the remaining 3 spots has just gone wild, with only 2 weeks of playing time to go.

Who is playing where?

Number 6 in the race is Andy Roddick, who secured passage to the second round in Lyon on Tuesday after defeating home favorite, Nicolas Mahut. His next opponent is his fellow American, Robby Ginepri. Roddick believes his chances for qualifying for his 5th Masters Cup are pretty good. The former world number 1 made it to the semis in Shanghai last year, where he lost to David Ferrer.

"I'm in a good position to go to Shanghai but you never know what can happen behind me... Before the last tournament in Paris (next week), I prefer to have all the cards in my hands."

Currently occupying spot number 7 is 2007 Shanghai finalist, David Ferrer. Ferrer is taking a break this week and will have to secure his place in the Shanghai field in the Paris Masters next week.

Juan Martin Del Potro is holding tight to the number 8 position. The Argentine hot shot eased through his first round match on Tuesday against George Bastl in Basel. Next up for Del Potro is another Swiss, Stephane Bohli.

Last week's surprise finalist at the Madrid Masters, Gilles Simon, soared to number 9 in the race and will be looking to add to his tally in Lyon this week. The Frenchman starts his campaign against Argentina's Juan Monaco on Wednesday.

James Blake is at number 10, and he's playing in Basel this week. His opening match is against Nicolas Kiefer.

Number 11, Stanislas Wawrinka, suffered a setback in his qualifying quest when he failed to progress to the second round on home soil in Basel. The Swiss fell to Benjamin Becker 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5), squandering 2 match points on the way.

Other contenders in action this week include Aussie Open finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who advanced to the second round in Lyon and Spain's Fernando Verdasco, whose hopes are also still alive in St. Petersburg.

Number 17, David Nalbandian, had previously expressed his disinterest in qualifying for the Masters Cup this year, and stated that he wishes to focus on the Davis Cup final.

"The jet-lag from China to Argentina is terrible... I'm not thinking about qualifying for Shanghai. We have a chance to win the Davis Cup and that's what I'm concentrating on. That's what I'm worrying about now."

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