SHANGHAI, Nov 14 (Reuters) World number one Roger Federer got his quest for a fourth Tennis Masters Cup title back on track with a 6-4 6-3 win over Russian Nikolay Davydenko today.
The Swiss, stunned by Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in his round-robin opener in Shanghai, was below his best but still good enough to eliminate Davydenko from the season-ending event.
With cow bells echoing around Qi Zhong stadium, Federer struggled to overcome an opponent he had beaten in all their previous 10 meetings.
Federer, who is bidding to win a fourth title in the last five years at the showcase eight-man tournament, did just enough to take a scrappy first set despite 22 unforced errors.
He broke to lead 5-3, promptly dropped his own serve but restored normal service in the next game, breaking again to win the set when Davydenko blew an easy smash.
Federer raised his game in the second, a forehand rocket putting him 3-1 up, and he put Davydenko out of his misery after 87 minutes, letting out a roar of delight as his opponent's backhand sailed long.
Gonzalez was playing American Andy Roddick in the day's second Red Group match later today.
REUTERS AB KN1737