World No. 1 Roger Federer got his Masters Cup campaign back on track by eliminating Russia's Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets yesterday.
The triple Masters Cup champion, shocked in his opening match by Fernando Gonzalez, overwhelmed the Russian 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 27 minutes to remain in the running for his sixth straight semi-final.
Federer was expected to come out firing but he made a pedestrian start before pouncing in the eighth game, converting his first break point as Davydenko put a backhand volley long.
The Swiss, who sprayed an eyebrow-raising 22 unforced errors in the set, suffered an uncharacteristic wobble when serving to go one-up and swiped a baseline backhand into the net to be broken back.
However, Davydenko's revival proved short-lived as Federer, recovering his aggression, broke again for the set as the Russian miscued badly with a forehand volley.
Federer converted the last of five break points at 2-1 in the second to put a stranglehold on the match, roaring with delight as he finally found form.
Davydenko's volley failed him yet again as Federer broke for 5-1. But the Swiss was again broken when serving for the set, and the match, before finally finishing it 6-3 on Davydenko's misfired backhand.
The result means Davydenko, appearing at his third straight Masters Cup, cannot reach the semi-finals following his opening loss to Andy Roddick.
It is also a boost for Federer, who had never lost a round robin match in 15 matches at the season finale until being beaten by Gonzalez on Monday.
The 26-year-old Swiss triumphed in 2003, 2004 and last year, with his only previous defeats coming in the 2002 semis to Lleyton Hewitt and in the 2005 final to David Nalbandian.
Davydenko is coming off a troubled year with the ATP investigating suspicious betting patterns relating to a match he played in Poland in August. However he won an appeal against a US$2,000 fine for not trying hard enough during the St. Petersburg Open.