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Davydenko Holds Nerve To Oust Federer

Posted by on Nov 28th, 2009 and filed under  Top Stories, Latest News, Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

World No. 7 Nikolay Davydenko produced a stunning display and demonstrated nerves of steel as he recorded his first win over Roger Federer in 13 meetings 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 to reach the final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the second year in a row Saturday in front of an enthralled crowd at The O2 arena. In the final Davydenko will play US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, whom he beat at this event last year in Shanghai.

The 28-year-old Davydenko, who finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the final in Shanghai last year, had lost all 12 of his previous meetings with Federer but saved his first win over the World No. 1 for one of the biggest stages in world tennis – in front of 17,500 people, who rose to give the Russian a standing ovation at the end.

The 28-year-old Federer was just two points from victory when he led 5-4 and 0/30 on Davydenko’s serve in the third set. The Swiss also had a break point chance as Davydenko served for the match, but could not break through the resilient Russian’s defences as he succumbed in one hour and 55 minutes.

“I think all my family, everybody who supports me, was waiting for this moment when I can beat Federer, because I have beaten everyone in the Top 10 except Federer,” said Davydenko. “I was thinking it was coming maybe in 2010 or ’11. But in 2009, at the end of the season, it’s a good feeling.

“I knew I was playing good. I was thinking today I want to show the same confidence as yesterday because I won yesterday (against Robin Soderling) and I really felt good. That’s what happened. It really happened. My fourth match, I played very well. [It is a] good feeling, really good feeling. I know now in confidence, if I beat everyone, then I can play very well.”

It is only the third time in eight appearances at the season finale that four-time former winner Federer has failed to reach the final. The Swiss, who has amassed a staggering 29-7 record at the year-end championship, also fell to Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-finals on his 2002 debut in Shanghai and failed to advance past the round-robin stages in Shanghai last year.

Federer captured back-to-back titles in Houston in 2003 (d. Agassi) and ’04 (d. Hewitt) and again in Shanghai in 2006 (d. Blake) and ’07 (d. Ferrer), also finishing runner-up to David Nalbandian in ’05.

“Sure, it’s disappointing,” lamented Federer. “But not to lose against him; just to lose in the semis. Coming so far in a tough group, in a tough tournament, I had hopes to get through to the final and maybe win again.

“As the match wore on, I actually started to feel better and better. In the end, indoors, you never know what can happen. It could swing either way. I was a couple of points away, but just couldn’t get it done. He did well. I thought he played strong throughout, even though I don’t think it was our best match we ever played against each other. He finally beat me today. I wish him all the best for the final.”

Federer made a lightening-fast start to the match, winning seven of the first eight points. However, the Basel native was unable to convert two break point chances he created in the second game, due to what he later described as “wrong choice of shot”, and the momentum of the match swiftly turned in the Russian’s favour.

As he had done throughout the round-robin matches, Davydenko stood his ground on the baseline and took the match to Federer, maneuvering the Swiss around and advancing to the net when opportunity struck. In contrast, Federer struggled to keep a rein on his unforced errors and emotions and, despite clawing back one of the service breaks after Davydenko had raced to a 4-1 lead, was powerless to prevent the Russian from assuming a one-set lead.

Tighter play and a battling attitude from Federer enabled him to keep competitive in the second set and it was the Russian who was to crack first under the pressure in the enormity of the situation. With Federer leading 5-4, unforced errors crept into Davydenko’s service game and he paid the price as Federer capitalised to break and level the match.

Federer’s success in the second set sparked another shift in momentum and it was the Swiss who looked the more likely winner in the opening stages of the third set as he dictated play more with his forehand.

Davydenko was unfased, though, and kept his composure under a barrage of attack from Federer. He looked on the verge of defeat in the 10th game as a huge stroke of luck for Federer saw a net cord dribble over Davydenko’s side of the net to hand the Swiss a 0/15 lead, before an incredible smash from Federer, in response to an overhead from Davydenko, saw him take a 0/30 lead. However, the Russian demonstrated nerves of steel to win the next four points and capitalised on his momentum by striking a stunning backhand return to break the Federer serve in the following game.

“At 0/30, I was thinking, Federer again lucky,” said Davydenko. “In 12 times he beat me. Now again in this point, I was thinking, ‘Not again, please’. Again I can lose 6-4 in the third set. But winning first point, then again I come back with better concentration. Then I started to be lucky.”

With the atmosphere at fever pitch in the final game, Davydenko remained one of the most composed figures in the arena as he calmly fired a forehand winner to save the break point he faced before out-rallying Federer on match point to claim a momentous victory.

Davydenko, who defeated World No. 3 Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the round-robin stages, is the first player to beat the Top 3-ranked players in the same tournament since Madrid in 2007, when Nalbandian beat No. 2 Nadal in the quarter-finals, No. 3 Djokovic in the semi-finals and No. 1 Federer in the final.

Davydenko is through to his eighth ATP World Tour final of the season and will look to win his fifth title after triumphs at the International German Open (d. Mathieu) in Hamburg, the ATP Studena Croatia Open (d. Ferrero) in Umag, the Proton Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2009 (d. Verdasco) and the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000, presented by Rolex (d. Nadal).

Federer brought the curtain down on what has been an outstanding season for the right-hander. He reached the final of all four majors, completing the career Grand Slam at Roland Garros (d. Soderling) and winning a record-breaking 15th Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon (d. Roddick). Earlier this week, the Swiss was crowned ATP World Tour Champion for a fifth time.

“I still had a great season,” said Federer. “Looking at how deep the game is right now, to finish on top for me is phenomenal. Winning that combination of Paris and Wimbledon back to back, coming from so far back in so many matches in Paris. I think those are incredible moments in my career.”

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