Tennis-Davydenko prefers Murray to Federer in Masters Cup semis

SHANGHAI Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:04pm GMT

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SHANGHAI Nov 13 (Reuters) - Russia's Nikolay Davydenko would rather take on Briton Andy Murray than Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Masters Cup, even though the ailing Swiss has been well below his best at the season finale.

Davydenko beat Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3 6-2 on Thursday to clinch his place in the last four at the $4.45 million season finale, where he will meet the winner of the other round robin group.

Defending champion Federer, who has been suffering from a stomach upset, will win the group if he beats the in-form Murray on Friday. If Murray triumphs, the Scot will top the group, Federer will go out and Gilles Simon qualifies in second place.

"Murray is playing very good tennis in the moment," said Davydenko, the world number five.

"I have had much better results against Murray because this year I won one and I lost one but against Federer I have a 12-0 record. I never win.

"So against Murray I have more chance. It doesn't matter how Murray plays, I have more chance. Federer is not playing his best tennis but you never know. Federer is a different guy every day."

With the likes of Murray and Serbian Novak Djokovic, both 21, in the Masters Cup semi-finals and 23-year-old Simon in with a chance of joining them, some are talking about a new generation of tennis players ready to take over the game.

The 27-year-old Russian, who is playing his fourth Masters Cup, said he did not think the balance of power had shifted just yet.

"New generation? I don't know," he said. "I don't think tennis is that different at the moment. I see these guys have good baseline and can run all match with good concentration. I don't see any change.

"Federer played the best tennis I've seen," he added. "But other guys I don't see it really, not yet. Maybe in the future something's coming."

Simon, who beat Federer in his opening match, plays Czech Radek Stepanek -- the replacement for injury withdrawal Andy Roddick -- in his final group game on Friday but his result will have no bearing at all on whether he qualifies or not.

(Editing by Alan Baldwin)

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