Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his second-round match at the Paris Masters on Tuesday to keep his hopes alive of qualifying for the eight-man ATP World Tour Finals.
Tsonga beat Albert Montanes of Spain 6-1, 7-5 and Davydenko downed Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-2, 6-1.
Tsonga is among six players who can still qualify for the season-ending event in London. Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco, Robin Soderling and Fernando Gonzalez are also in the running to secure the two remaining spots.
Davydenko, who won the Paris Masters in 2006, needs to reach the semi-finals to secure a spot, while Tsonga must defend his title without facing Verdasco in the final to advance.
“I felt really good from the start,” said Tsonga, who will next play fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon.
The eighth-seeded Tsonga showed no signs of the wrist injury that forced him to retire in the first round of the Valencia Open last week. He won five straight games in the first set. He broke in the 11th game of the second and closed it out on his first match point.
“I still feel I’m an outsider,” Tsonga said. “I have nothing to lose, in fact. In this draw, my ranking is not the best and I haven’t made the greatest results in the past weeks. I have everything to win and nothing to lose.”
The 11th-seeded Simon delighted his home crowd by edging former finalist Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) despite injuring his knee in the sixth game of the decider.
The seventh-seeded Verdasco rallied to beat Andreas Seppi of Italy for the sixth time in as many matches on the main tour with a 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4 win. The Spaniard converted his first match point with a service winner and eliminated two contenders from the race to the ATP finals — Radek Stepanek and Marin Cilic.
Verdasco, who had his foot bandaged in the third set, broke Seppi in the ninth game of the decider and served out.
Verdasco will play in London if he wins in Paris, but could qualify earlier depending on his rivals’ results.
“It was my big challenge for this year, and this week is the last week,” Verdasco said of the ATP finals. “After this, everything is going to be decided. So I’m giving my best in the last chance, the last week to try to do it.”
Verdasco will next face either 12th-seeded Cilic of Croatia or qualifier Lukasz Kubot of Poland.
Nicolas Almagro of Spain defeated Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4 to advance to a second-round match against second-seeded Rafael Nadal.
“This tournament is always difficult, and this kind of surface is the most difficult of the year for me,” said Nadal, who has never won the Paris Masters. “And I think it’s faster than the other years. The bounce is lower, but that’s it.”
French qualifier David Guez, 179th in the rankings, defeated Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second round, while Juan Monaco of Argentina broke Jeremy Chardy of France three times on his way to a 7-6 (6), 7-5 victory.
“Today, I was frustrated because I was not able to do what I wanted to do,” Chardy said. “When you are on the court and you just can’t do what you want, it’s always annoying.”
Julien Benneteau rallied to defeat Philipp Petzschner of Germany 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. The Frenchman was due to face top-ranked Roger Federer yesterday.
“It’s going to be a very tough match, but I’m really motivated,” Benneteau said. “Playing against Federer on center court is an extraordinary experience and I really wanted to do that.”