SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ Top-ranked Roger Federer snapped his two-match losing streak, beating No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 6-3 Wednesday and boosting his chances of defending his Masters Cup title.
Federer still has to beat No. 5 Andy Roddick on Friday, though, to have a serious chance of making the semifinals in the season-ending tournament that features the top eight men's singles players.
Roddick was sharp as he beat No. 7 Fernando Gonzalez 6-1, 6-4 later Wednesday to improve to 2-0 in round-robin play. He committed only seven unforced errors and never faced a break point.
Both Roddick and Gonzalez won their opening matches, with the Chilean upsetting Federer. It was Federer's second consecutive loss, the first time in 4 1/2 years he lost twice in a row.
Despite a few glitches along the way, including 39 unforced errors to just 23 winners, Federer looked extremely focused as he improved his round-robin record to 1-1.
Davydenko fell to 0-2 and was virtually eliminated, barring injuries to players above the Russian in the Red Group.
Federer, who improved to 11-0 career against Davydenko and leads Roddick 14-1, was happy he got a chance to regain his touch in Shanghai.
``I realized he was not going to serve bombs all the way through, which allowed me to really get into the rallies from the baseline and try to maneuver him around a little bit,'' he said. ``I thought I missed a few too many backhands maybe at the beginning, but then started to slice nicely.''
He also realized that Davydenko, who has said he is exhausted after a heavy schedule, wasn't at the top of his game, so he tried to extend rallies until the Russian made a mistake.
``That was the right play today,'' Federer said.
Swiss flags were draped around the indoor stadium and painted on the faces of several Chinese women in the crowd that was clearly pro-Federer.
Both players began well, with the first break opportunity not coming until Davydenko served at 3-4. Federer, going for winners but sometimes missing badly, quickly converted and served for the set only to see Davydenko break back. But Davydenko's errors handed the set to Federer when he doubled-faulted at deuce, then missed a forehand wide.
Federer cut his mistakes in the second set and had Davydenko in constant trouble. He squandered four break points with Davydenko serving at 0-1 in a game that went to deuce six times, then ran off four games in a row to take command at 5-1. Davydenko got back one break as Federer served for the match and held to pull within 5-3.
But Federer was just too good in the end, shouting ``Yes!'' in clear relief when Davydenko committed his 26th unforced error on match point. Playing mostly from the baseline, the Russian just didn't have enough to hurt Federer, compiling only 11 winners.
``It's not impossible to beat Federer,'' Davydenko said. ``Today was really tough for me physically.''
He said he was ``really tired... mentally and physically'' and will head to the Maldives for a couple days of rest before preparing for the David Cup final between Russia and the United States at the end of the month.
Roddick, who is eager to win here and also sees the tournament as excellent Davis Cup preparation following time out with injuries, was untouchable on his powerful serve, losing only 11 points in nine service games.
Gonzalez was nowhere near as sharp as he was in beating Federer two nights earlier, and even his luck was bad. At one point, he had a lunging backhand that caught the net and barely dribbled over. But Roddick was in position to volley and tapped the ball back into the open court for a winner.
With his own strong fan support that included a number of U.S. flags and four women who waved cutout letters spelling ``A-N-D-Y,'' Roddick finished off the match with a strong cross-court forehand that Gonzalez weakly hit short of the net.
In the Gold Group, second-ranked Rafael Nadal (1-1) will try to reach the semifinals when he plays Thursday against No. 3 Novak Djokovic, who is 0-2. David Ferrer (2-0), will meet Richard Gasquet (1-1.)