Tag Archives: Nikolay Davydenko

Game Over For “Playstation”

Though it didn’t come as a huge surprise, there was still an outpouring of first disappointment and then fond remembrances for the incredible career of Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko who announced his retirement this week.

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2010 Australian Open Review – Mind Over Body.

Each Grand Slam has its own style and flavor and although this year’s AO lacked the drama of the ’09 U.S. Open, its best moments could be summed up in the well-worn phrase “mind over body.” I say that because a lot of the matches came down to how well players dealt with personal injuries through mental focus. And even if a player wasn’t ailing, some will wish they had had a checkup with a local shrink before stepping onto the Melbourne grounds.
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“The Best” in Tennis – 2009 Review.

Of course this being December, everyone is taking a look back at the year that was. Here’s my brief look back at the best in tennis for 2009.

Player of the Year – Kim Clijsters.
Yes I know Roger Federer had an amazing year, again, but Kim Clijsters’s title run at the U.S. Open was the story of the year not only for her exceptional play but also that it highlighted, unfairly perhaps, the lack of depth in the women’s game right now. If Clijsters had not won the Open, I doubt Justine Henin would have returned as she too senses an opportunity for more glory. Clijsters’s win in New York was a “tour-changer” and its impact will be felt in 2010 regardless how well Clijsters does next year.

Best Men’s Match of the Year. – Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick – Wimbledon Men’s Final.
Ok so this wasn’t quite the epic that Federer vs. Nadal was last year, but it certainly had it’s share of drama especially the fifth set “serve-off” that Federer barely won thus eclipsing Roddick’s dream of a Wimbledon title. One wonders if Roddick still thinks about that missed backhand volley that could have given him a two set to love lead in the match, but the respect Roddick earned worldwide will certainly be with him next year. (I know some would say Nadal vs. Verdasco in the Australian Open Semis was “the” match, but I have to give the edge here just because it was for the Wimbledon title.)

Best Women’s Match of the Year – Serena Williams vs. Elena Dementieva – Wimbledon Semifinals.
What impressed me the most was the ball striking in this one as the ladies hit the ball harder than any men’s match I’ve ever seen. Dementieva was oh so close to taking out the top seed but Serena’s perseverance not only paid off by winning this match, and then the finals against sister Venus, but did a lot to cement Serena as the female player of the decade.

Comeback Players of the Year – Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nikolay Davydenko.
I know people are expecting Kim Clijsters here but let’s face it, “Sveta’s” win at the French Open was a bit unexpected as many had already written her off as a one Slam wonder. Her consistent play throughout the year indicated that Sveta was hungry for more glory and I expect her to do well in 2010. As for Davydenko, many had forgotten him at the beginning of the year and his substandard play during the Slams. But his late season run including wins at Shanghai and the Barclays ATP Finals proved he was always in the mix.

Rising Star of the Year – Juan Martin Del Potro.
With his total beatdown of Rafael Nadal in the semis of the U.S. Open and then his amazing five set win over Roger Federer in the finals, Del Potro emerged from the pack of contenders to become “the” contender for Roger’s crown in 2010. How he handles his newfound fame, considering his rather shy nature, remains to be seen but do not count Delpo for any title next year.

And finally a special thanks to those players who retired this year including Marat Safin, Amelie Mauresmo, Fabrice Santoro and Ai Sugiyama. All of them brought their own unique gifts, spins and personalities to a game that desperately needs more players like them. I wish them all the best in their new lives.

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ATP Crystal Ball for 2010.

2010 will be a transition year for the ATP Tour even though the winners may look the same. Here are my predictions for the ATP men again ranked where I think they will end up at year’s end.

1. Roger Federer. To think that “Fed” won’t win another Slam or two next year is highly unlikely. Federer’s consistency week in and week out will help keep his top ranking intact. But this could be his last year of total domination. The real question for Federer, especially after winning the French Open, is what will motivate him to keep going after winning everything. Maybe a chance at a true Grand Slam?

2. Juan Martin Del Potro. That’s right. The big man from Argentina will be chasing Federer all year. Injuries and still a nagging lack of belief could hinder him but I expect Delpo to win another Slam. Could the French be next?

3. Novak Djokovic. The “Falcon” has returned with the fire and belief that was lost for most of 2009. He could win a Slam but he’ll have to keep up the balancing act between being “the class clown” and his intensity which rubs some fans the wrong way. Look for him to come into Australia with a vengeance.

4. Rafael Nadal. I know. I know. The Nadal fans are going to attack me for this but I believe that the Nadal “mystique” is over and the top guys on tour have finally figured out how to play him. I like him in the French for sure but how his body holds up will be the story next year.

5. Andy Murray. I don’t understand the obsession with Murray. He’s a talented player but it’s been proven if you attack him ala Marin Cilic, Roger Federer you will win. His mental toughness is still an issue and he needs a big shot to help him win cheap points. I’m still not convinced Murray has the game to win a Slam. He’ll get close, maybe even a final, but I doubt he’ll win one next year.

6. Nikolay Davydenko. Is this the year the hardest working man on tour finally wins a Slam? Maybe. He certainly proved in Shanghai and the ATP Finals that he can beat anyone especially with his improved serve and net play. But how he holds up in best 3 of 5 matches is the real question. Plus, will fans finally get behind the “unsexy” Russian? I like his chances in Australia better than anywhere else.

7. Andy Roddick. As the ’09 Wimbledon final was a defining match for Roddick, I feel like 2010 is the last hope for him to win one more Slam. He’s in great shape more or less (unless the knee becomes a bigger issue) and coach Larry Stefanki has got him playing better, but if he’s going to do it, this is it. Maybe the U.S. Open?

8. Robin Soderling The lanky Swede proved his French Open runner-up spot was no fluke as he continued his strong play late in the season. He certainly believes he can beat the top players, but does he have the game to prevail in the later stages, especially against Federer? He might get close this year at the Slams but I don’t see him breaking through yet.

9 through 15. Take your pick. Tsonga, Verdasco, Gonzalez, Simon, Monfils, Haas. All these guys have gotten close but no cigar. 2010 could be their “this is it” moment to finally breakthrough. But don’t count on it. Anyone of them could make a Slam final but Jelena Jankovic has more chances than these guys.

Wildcards – Sam Querrey. Querrey certainly had a decent 2009 and I can see him getting into the top 15 but winning a Slam feels out of reach.

Marin Cilic – Could the super tall Croat have a Del Potro like year and finally break into the top 10? Watch out for him at Wimbledon where his big serve and volley game should pay dividends.

Lleyton Hewitt – With his health restored, Hewitt finds himself back in the top 20 again. Can he finally win the Australian Open? Sure, if Federer gets knocked out early.

Richard Gasquet – Now that he’s back on tour, 2010 will be the year when we find out if he has what it takes to get back into the top 10 or just be the punchline to one of the more bizarre storylines of 2009.

James Blake – For all the talent, Blake has never lived up to his potential. Something could happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 2010 is his last year.

John Isner – He’s got the big serve and had a breakthrough win against Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open but he needs a bigger game overall if wants to even crack into the top 20.

David Nalbandian – He finally returns after enduring hip surgery. But has the highly talented Argentine been eclipsed by the younger Del Potro?

Plenty of other players I could mention as well with their own chances at glory next year. Let me know what you think!

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Davydenko Rocks Del Potro for ATP Title.

I’m not sure if Nikolay Davydenko has a nickname of “The Rock” but he sure earned it this week after winning the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals over Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 6-4.

Del Potro tried to outblast the Russian from the baseline, but Davydenko’s strong serving and fine net play sealed the win in just under two hours.

It caps what has been an impressive late season run for the Russian which includes the Shanghai Masters title and big wins over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

What does this all mean for Davydenko who, despite playing more tournaments than anyone, has never been a contender for a Grand Slam in his career? It’s possible he could challenge for a Slam, but he will now have to think about maybe cutting back on his schedule so he can show up fresh for the big events.

As for Del Potro, despite the loss, getting to the finals here at least proves the U.S. Open win was not a fluke and I expect the big man to be a major threat next year.

In the doubles finals, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan secured the year-end No.1 ranking after winning over Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 7-6(3), 6-3.

For the year, this is how the top 10 rankings will end for the ATP.
1 Roger Federer 10,550
2 Rafael Nadal 9,205
3 Novak Djokovic 8,310
4 Andy Murray 7,030
5 Juan Martin Del Potro 6,785
6 Nikolay Davydenko 4,930
7 Andy Roddick 4,410
8 Robin Soderling 3,410
9 Fernando Verdasco 3,300
10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2,875

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Djokovic Wins Ugly in London.

It wasn’t pretty but Novak Djokovic lived up to his pre-tournament favorite hype by finally winning his almost three hour match against Nikolay Davydenko in the first round of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Though it had shades of the brilliant match both played against each other in Shanghai, this match was more a battle of nerves and missed opportunities as Djokovic failed to convert on break point chances in the first set and allowed the Russian to hold on to win it 6-3.

It looked like Davydenko would hang on for the win until Djokovic, serving at 3-4, hit an ace that he thought had won the game. But a let was called forcing him to serve again. Djokovic won the point and regained his intensity allowing him to break at 5-4 and win the second set.

Djokovic broke early in the third set and went up 2-0. After holding his own in many of the extended rallies, Djokovic served for it at 5-4 but lost the game after Davydenko hit a screaming down the line baseline winner at 30-40. But the Russian couldn’t keep the momentum going as he hit three shots long to go down 0-40 and eventually lose the game. Djokovic finally served out the third set at 7-5.

Tomorrow Andy Murray goes up against Roger Federer while Juan Martin Del Potro takes on Fernando Verdasco. For all of Federer’s talk of “hitting through” Murray, Federer will need to clean up his game if hopes to win. The Del Potro/Verdasco match is hard to call. Both players really need to win as I see both of them of being the “weakest” players in the field.

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Fed Struggles in London & Day 2 Predix.

For a moment it looked like the erratic play of Roger Federer late in the season would continue as he dropped the opening service game in his match against Fernando Verdasco at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Verdasco, who had never won a set against the world No. 1, finally did through steady play and solid serving to go up 6-4.

In the second set, Verdasco stayed right with Federer throughout. But Verdasco’s sloppy attempt at a smash overhead on the baseline that went awry gave Federer the opening he needed to take the second set 7-5.

After that it was all Federer as the wheels came off of Verdasco’s game while Federer’s forehand finally found its mark allowing Federer to seal the victory 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Tomorrow Rafael Nadal opens up against Robin Soderling while Novak Djokovic, the pre-tournament favorite, takes on Nikolay Davydenko. I actually like Soderling in the first match as recently Nadal has been very vulnerable indoors. Djokovic should win against Davydenko but will be interesting to see how much gas “Nole” has left after winning the last two events in a row.

By the way, kudos to the ATP for staging the ATP finale in London. The arena has been packed for each match and the play so far has lived up to the superstar billing. Hopefully this will finally allow the finals to be the “fifth slam” the ATP has dreamed of.

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