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Roddick Falls On Mixed Day For Finals Contenders

Beijing, China

Andy Roddick, Lukasz Kubot© Getty ImagesLukasz Kubot recorded his first win over a Top 10 player.

There were mixed fortunes at the China Open on Tuesday as Andy Roddick, who leads the battle to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London in November, made an early exit. 

However, fellow contenders for one of the three remaining singles berths at the prestigious circuit climax, Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco, Fernando Gonzalez and Robin Soderling all advanced to the second round at the ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tennis tournament in Beijing.

Qualifier Lukasz Kubot recorded the biggest win of his career as he stunned defending champion and World No. 6 Roddick 6-2, 6-4. It was the Pole’s first victory over a Top 10 player (1-3 record).

"I think first and foremost is you try to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals." said Roddick. "That’s certainly a goal at the beginning of every year. I missed an opportunity this week, but you certainly want to get confirmed into that tournament sooner rather than later."

The No. 143-ranked Kubot took advantage of a below-par serving performance from Roddick – the American was limited to just five aces and won only 59 per cent of points behind his renowned first serve – to break serve five times from nine opportunities in the 81-minute match. Roddick captured the title last year with victory over Dudi Sela.

"I didn’t play well," lamented Roddick. "I don’t know if I was super prepared. It showed. I was trying stuff out there, and nothing seemed to be working too well." The American, who is through to the doubles quarter-finals with Mark Knowles, added: "I'll just try to practice here in doubles, so I’ll try to do as well as I can in that and actually use that as a tool to get prepared (for the the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000). I certainly need to put some time in."

The 27-year-old Roddick, who was contesting his first match since suffering a third-round exit at the US Open (l. to Isner), will next have the chance to qualify for the season finale at the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000, beginning Sunday.

Roddick In Pole Position To Qualify For Finals

Kubot, also 27, improved to an 8-5 mark on the season, highlighted by reaching his first ATP World Tour final as a qualifier at the inaugural Serbia Open 2009 (l. to Djokovic) in May. He next will face Croatian Ivan Ljubicic, who fired 22 aces as he battled past Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-1 in two hours and 17 minutes.

World No. 8 Davydenko kept his ambitions to reach the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on track as he won his fifth straight match with a 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-2 victory over Russian compatriot Igor Kunitsyn. The fourth seed was denied when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, and again at 5-1 in the final set before prevailing after two hours and 12 minutes.

The 28-year-old Davydenko last week captured his third ATP World Tour title of the season at the Proton Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2009 with victory over Fernando Verdasco. He also titled at the International German Open (d. Mathieu) and the ATP Studena Croatia Open (d. Ferrero) and has compiled a 43-12 mark on the season.

Fifth seed Verdasco overcame a slow start to defeat American Robby Ginepri 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-2. The Spaniard dropped serve twice in a tight opening set, before improving to break the Ginepri serve four times in the following two sets and prevail after one hour and 50 minutes.

World No. 9 Verdasco pressed his claim for a place at the eight-man season finale in London with a runner-up showing at the Proton Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2009 last week (l. to Davydenko). It was first appearance since reaching the quarter-finals at the US Open (l. to Djokovic).

Seventh-seeded Chilean Gonzalez, who captured the 2007 title (d. Robredo), improved to 7-1 overall at the China Open after he defeated David Ferrer of Spain 7-5, 6-4 in the first round. Gonzalez, a silver medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hit 13 aces, seven double faults and saved 18 of 20 break points in the pair’s eighth meeting.

"I won the tournament three years ago. Last year I got the silver medal in the Olympics, and this is the first time I’ve come back," said Gonzalez. "It’s really exciting for me. All the players are really excited to play in the Far East. I hope to play good tennis like I did last year and two years ago."

World No. 12 Gonzalez, who is bidding earn a spot at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for a third time, improved to 32-12 this year. He has reached the Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Soderling) and US Open quarter-finals (l. to Nadal). World No. 19 Ferrer dropped to 41-22 this year, highlighted by runner-up finishes at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships (l. to Djokovic) and Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell (l. to Nadal).

No. 11-ranked Soderling was extended to three sets by MercedesCup champion Jeremy Chardy before defeating the Frenchman 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in one hour and 40 minutes. The 25-year-old Soderling is coming from a semi-final effort in Kuala Lumpur last week (l. to Davydenko) to make his debut in Beijing.

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