Russian Nikolay Davydenko hopes to take advantage of a depleted field after making it to the semifinals of the season-ending Masters Cup.
updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
Shanghai:Nikolay Davydenko hopes to take advantage of a depleted field after making it to the semifinals of the season-ending Masters Cup. Two days after defeating Andre Agassi, seventh-ranked Davydenko advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 victory Wednesday over Gaston Gaudio. A path through the round-robin stage opened for Davydenko because injuries and absentees have drained the event of some of its biggest stars. Rank game Davydenko will be the highest ranked player in the semifinals behind two-time defending champion Roger Federer. No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 5 Agassi - after losing to Davydenko - withdrew with injuries on Monday. No. 3 Andy Roddick and Australian Open champion Marat Safin pulled out before the tournament because of injuries. Fourth-ranked Lleyton Hewitt, a two-time winner of the event, stayed in Australia pending the birth of his first child. "It was supposed to be a tough group - but Agassi retired and Nadal didn't play any matches, so I get a chance to get into the semifinals," Davydenko said. "It's great for me because if you get some chance, you need to take it." Assured berth Davydenko was assured a place in the semis when Fernando Gonzalez, a late replacement for Agassi, won 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 Wednesday over Mariano Puerta, who is replacing Nadal. The other semifinalist from the Gold Group will be determined on Friday when Gaudio plays Gonzalez, who was on vacation when the ATP telephoned and asked him to fly from Chile to China as an alternate. "Five days ago I was on holidays at home and I was really having fun," said Gonzalez, ranked 13th. "Two days ago I didn't know if I was going to get to play. Today I have a chance of making the Masters Cup semifinals." The 25-year-old Chilean also was an alternate in 2002, the last time the Masters Cup was in Shanghai, but didn't get a match. Gonzalez said he was given two hours to make a decision whether to make the long trip to Shanghai, but was happy that he did. Pulling out Third-ranked Andy Roddick, No. 4 Lleyton Hewitt and Australian Open champion Marat Safin pulled out before the tournament. The only top-five player remaining is No. 1 Federer, who won a spot in the semifinals with a victory Tuesday over Ivan Ljubicic in the Red Group. Davydenko also can't believe his luck with the spate of injuries. "I think I need to take this chance in the semifinals," he said. "Next year should be tough to play - I don't think five guys will retire." Davydenko faced triple breakpoint in the 10th game of the second set against 2004 French Open champion Gaudio, but rallied to force deuce with an overhead crosscourt. Two forehand winners gave Davydenko the match. Frustrating match Gaudio was frustrated after saving three match points. "I thought I had an opportunity - I was almost getting back to 5-5 after being 5-1 down," said Gaudio, who smashed his racket after losing a crucial point. "It was pretty exciting. But finally I couldn't do it, so it doesn't make sense all the things that I did." Davydenko is 2-0 and Argentine Gaudio 1-1 in round-robin play in the Gold Group, while Gonzalez is 1-0 and Puerta is 0-2. (AP)