November 29, 2009

Davydenko Wins ATP World Tour Finals

Hey - remember a few days ago when I said the ATP World Tour finals had just started and I had a photo up of all 8 of the participants? And remember when I said this: "Nikolay Dayvedenko is next and honestly, if he wasn't standing with this group of guys, would you have any idea he's a world-class tennis player? I love that about him." Well, guess who ended up winning the whole dang thing? That's right - Nikolay Davydenko! Here's the blow-by-blow account of the final by a BBC sports writer who was there:
Davydenko takes World Tour title
By Piers Newbery, BBC Sport at the O2 Arena

Nikolay Davydenko became the first Russian to win the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals with a brilliant display against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro.

The 28-year-old claimed the biggest title of his career, and a cheque for just over £900,000, with a 6-3 6-4 defeat of the US Open champion.

Davydenko, who beat Rafael Nadal, Robin Soderling and Roger Federer on his way to the final, was sharper throughout as Del Potro appeared to be feeling the after-effects of his semi-final win over Soderling the previous evening.

For the eighth successive day, around 17,000 spectators packed into the O2 Arena that has proved such a success on its debut as host to the most prestigious event outside the four Grand Slams.

Davydenko was making his second successive appearance in the final, having lost to Novak Djokovic in Shanghai last year, and the Russian was full of confidence after finally beating Federer at the 13th attempt in the semi-finals.

Making his fifth consecutive appearance at the eight-man season finale, the low-key Davydenko had another chance to land a title that would finally reflect his status in the game.

He started where he left off against Federer, all industry from the baseline and prepared to make the occasional dart to the net, while Del Potro appeared to be suffering a hangover from Saturday's late-night semi-final.

His mood was not helped when, after saving a first break point in game three he was called for a foot-fault on the second and, clearly unsettled, mishit a forehand seconds later to hand Davydenko the break at 3-1.

Del Potro was still swiping his racquet in frustration as the following game began and it was not until game seven that he got a chance to recover after Davydenko double-faulted at 30-30, but the Russian immediately regained his composure and struck a perfect forehand into the corner on the break point.

Davydenko was now in command, making 70% of first serves and flinging himself out wide to anticipate Del Potro's flat serves and favourite off-forehand into the corner, and he wrapped up the first set after 38 minutes.

The season looked to have finally caught up with Del Potro in game five of the second but he did well to fend off two break points with big serves to stay in touch.

Davydenko came through a dangerous moment in the following game when he saved two break points with a first serve and a serve-volley, but the Russian remained the player controlling the tempo.

After one of the best weeks of his career, Davydenko put together his best game of the week to break in game nine as he expertly moved Del Potro around to create space for winners on his way to a love game.

The seventh seed faced the biggest service game of his life and he came through it confidently to win in one hour 23 minutes when Del Potro netted a forehand.


Photo by Getty Images

© Kim Selzman 2009
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