SHANGHAI, Nov 12 (Reuters) Andy Roddick survived a scare against Russia's Nikolay Davydenko at the Tennis Masters Cup today to win his opening round-robin match 6-3 4-6 6-2.
Davydenko's gutsy fightback from a set and a break down sparked a tantrum from the American, who smashed his racket in disgust at his second-set collapse.
But Roddick recovered superbly, storming through the third set to severely dent his opponent's chances at the 4.45 million dollars season-ending event in Shanghai.
Both players have endured almost constant torment at the hands of world number one Roger Federer in the past, making victory in their Red Group opener imperative.
Federer, chasing his fourth Masters Cup title in the last five years, was playing Chile's Fernando Gonzalez later today in the showcase eight-man tournament.
Roddick, who had won all four of his previous meetings against Davydenko, forced the Russian into a wild forehand to gain the crucial break in the first set.
Roddick broke for a 4-3 lead in the second, tucking away an awkward forehand volley, but it triggered a dramatic improvement Davydenko, who won three games in a row to level the match.
A furious Roddick slammed his racket to the court, reducing it to a mangled mess, but quickly regained his composure and the third set was a blow-out.
The former US champion, who had been suffering from knee and ankle injuries in the run-in to Shanghai, wrapped up victory in a shade over two hours with a sweet forehand pass.
Roddick has won just once in 15 previous meetings with Federer while Davydenko has lost all 10 of his matches against the Swiss.
World number two Rafael Nadal and fellow Spaniard David Ferrer won their Gold Group openers tomorrow.
Reuters RAR DB1849