SHANGHAI, October 16 - Nikolay Davydenko moved closer to a spot in next month's season-ending showpiece in London with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 defeat of Radek Stepanek for a semi-final place at the Shanghai Masters Friday.
The Russian sixth seed, who missed three months of the season with injuries but has still reached a dozen quarter-finals in 2009, leapfrogged Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Chile's Fernando Gonzalez to currently stand a provisional ninth in the race to the World Tour Finals.
Three places remain up for grabs in the eight-man field, with the pressure now on Swede Robin Soderling to get past Spain's Feliciano Lopez in their quarter-final to stay just ahead of Davydenko.
Davydenko, aged 28, next faces either second seed Novak Djokovic or French eighth seed Gilles Simon, winner last month in Bangkok.
The Russian regained control against 13th-seed Stepanek after the 30-year-old Czech won the second set to pull level.
Davydenko re-established his dominance in the final set as he broke twice and went through on his first match point after just over two hours at the Qi Zhong complex.
The Russian is trying to complete the autumn Asian swing with a second title after lifting his third of the season in Kuala Lumpur a fortnight ago.