Nikolay Davydenko proved he is back as an elite player in the ATP tour by taking out top seed Rafael Nadal at the Shanghai Masters final 7-6 (3), 6-3. Davydenko’s 36 winners to Nadal’s 9 for the match overall illustrated the Russian’s game plan for attacking Nadal on all corners.
In the first set, after jumping out to a 4-2 lead, Davydenko missed three down the line forehand break point chances to allow Nadal back in at 3-4. Nadal broke back at 4-4 and appeared to be grinding his way back into the match. Nadal had a set point on Davydenko’s serve at 4-5 but an ill-timed lob put away by the Russian squandered that lone chance for the Russian. Nadal’s tactic of staying far behind the baseline did not deter Davydenko who again found his favorite down the line shot again in the tiebreaker which he eventually won.
The second set stayed on course until at 3-2, Davydenko again hit several return winners at extreme angles allowing him to break to go up 4-2. Nadal tried to put pressure on the Russian when he served for the match at 5-3, but it was a little too late as a Nadal forehand sailed just over the baseline sealing the win and third Masters title for the Russian.
Davydenko’s win puts him in seventh place in the ATP Finals Race and with him likely playing every other event until the end of the year, his place in London is all but assured.
In WTA finals action, Samantha Stosur finally won her first singles title after five tries by defeating Francesca Schiavone at Osaka 7-5, 6-1. Yanina Wickymayer of Belgium proved her U.S. Open run was no fluke by winning the Generali Ladies Linz event over Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-4. The win also puts “Wicky” into the WTA top 20 for the first time in her career.
Filed under ATP, Tennis, WTA
Asia is an important stop for both tours as tennis is one of the fastest growing sports for that region. Players with hopes of reaching the year end finals look to this three-week swing to pick up much needed points and perhaps salvage a so-so year with a tourney win.
But yet placing the Asia events just after the U.S. Open and at the tail-end of a long year always leads to dropouts and substandard play. We’ve already seen most of the top seeds fall early at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Japan while injuries forced Rafael Nadal out of Thailand and Roger Federer, due to exhaustion and an unknown ailment, dropped out of Beijing and Shanghai altogether. This means no one in Asia will get a chance to see the world number one play at all.
Is this fair to a region, who let’s face it, have enough fans with cash to buy tickets to support these events? Of course not. Wouldn’t it make sense to move some of these events up to the beginning of the year, just after the Australian Open since the players would already be in the Pacific region? Or perhaps have some of the Asia events take over slots of smaller clay courts events in Europe, that in reality don’t draw in as much interest or top players?
Since this probably won’t happen for awhile, if ever, all we can do is take a look at who could benefit during this year’s Asia swing. For the men, watch Andy Roddick. Since he lost early at the U.S. Open and didn’t play Davis Cup, he should be fresh going in. And with his mortal foe Federer not even showing up, Roddick could easily win Beijing again and challenge at Shanghai.
For the ladies, it’s hard to say since the substandard play from the U.S. Open seems to be continuing. Perhaps Sam Stosur could breakthrough and win her first title as the indoor/hard court surfaces suit her all-court game.
Filed under ATP, Tennis, WTA