Roddick, Berdych, Ferrer qualify for ATP Finals

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PARIS: Andy Roddick, Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer claimed the last spots for the ATP World Tour Finals after Gael Monfils ended Fernando Verdasco’s hopes at the Paris Masters on Thursday.

Roddick reached the quarterfinals by defeating Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 7-6 (8), putting Jurgen Melzer out of contention in the race for the year-end tournament in London this month.

Melzer, who beat the seventh-seeded Ferrer 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals, needed to win in Paris and have Roddick lose in the third round.

Verdasco needed to reach the final to have any hope of qualifying for the eight-man London tournament. But Monfils rallied from one set down and saved two match points in a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2), 7-5 win over the Spaniard.

Top-seeded Roger Federer also advanced to the quarters, matching his best result here with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Radek Stepanek.

Following his victories in Stockholm and Basel, Federer is on an 11-match winning streak and will next face Melzer.

The eight players making the ATP Finals from Nov. 21-28 are top-ranked Rafael Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Berdych, Ferrer and Roddick.

All but Berdych have already featured at the elite tournament.

“I think it’s a goal at the beginning of every year,” said Roddick, who qualified for the finals for an eight consecutive year. “It’s certainly an accomplishment every year. You can’t just play well for one week. It’s the culmination of doing it week after week on tour.”

Big server Michael Llodra defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (2), 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.

Roddick broke Gulbis in the second game of the first set after the Latvian sent a forehand wide. He relied on his strong serve throughout as he saved the single break point he faced with a backhand volley at 4-2.

Both players held serve in the second set until the tiebreaker, where Gulbis saved three match points. Roddick moved up 9-8 after retrieving a drop shot, and sealed the win when Gulbis buried a backhand in the net.

Roddick, who has reached the semifinals twice at the Palais Omnisports, will play No. 4 Robin Soderling. He beat Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Monfils saved the two match points at 5-4 in the third with a couple of service winners, including a second serve on the line. He broke in the 11th game after Verdasco double-faulted and put an easy forehand volley into the net.

The Frenchman had 11 aces and delighted the home crowd with his usual spectacular slides, while Verdasco made 51 unforced errors.

“Tennis-wise it was not perfect, but I found the mental resources to stay in that match,” said Monfils, who played with a minor knee injury. “I’m trying not to think about the pain. I’m able to forget everything when I’m on the court.”

Monfils, who reached the final last year, will take on Murray, who beat Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-3.

Llodra, who hadn’t gotten beyond the second round in Paris, lost only four of the 41 points played on his first serve and fended off the three break points he faced against Djokovic.

As he had every year at the Palais Omnisports, Djokovic entertained the crowd as he arrived on the court with fake glasses and wearing a bow tie as a mustache.

“It’s just a little tradition I have here in Bercy for last four or five years,” Djokovic said. “I have been doing it because around this time here is Halloween.”

He wasn’t so playful after Llodra saved two set points in the first tiebreaker and closed out the set with a winning backhand return.


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