Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko won the Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals 6–3, 6–4 over Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro on Sunday in London with a dominating display of speed, precision, and intensity.
The season-ending tournament featured the top eight tennis players in the world and is the biggest title of Davydenko’s career. In winning the title, he beat the winners of the Australian Open (Rafael Nadal), French Open and Wimbledon (Roger Federer), and the U.S. Open (del Potro).
Davydenko also recorded his first ever victory over Roger Federer in Saturday’s semifinal. He had lost to No. 1 player all 12 times they had previously played.
Davydenko could hardly contain his excitement, and who could blame him. “Yeah! It was amazing for me, coming here No. 7 and winning the tournament,” he said in an on-court interview after the match. He won $1.5 million for the title.
“You beat everybody so you are a great champion,” said del Potro.
The 5’10” Russian used his speed to return just about everything his 6’6” opponent could throw at him. Not just a defensive player, Davydenko also attacked with his forehand and was very successful at the net, winning on eight of his first nine approaches.
Both men played long, tough semifinals on Saturday. In the first semifinal, Davydenko upset Federer 6–2, 4–6, 7–5. In the second semifinal, del Potro took out Sweden’s Robin Soderling 6–7, 6–3, 7–6.
Davydenko also played his final round robin match on Friday, a tough 7–6, 4–6, 6–3 win over Soderling, meaning that the Russian won three huge matches in three days over top 10 opponents.
“Last two matches in three sets, I was so tired today but I play fast, had good concentration and I think it was an amazing match for me,” said Davydenko.
“I never beat Federer in my life…now I beat all top 10 guys.”
Despite his exertions, Davydenko started out very brightly against a sluggish del Potro. Davydenko broke del Potro’s serve to go up 3–1 as the Argentine seemed frustrated with the linesman who called him for foot faults.
Davydenko is a first-class grinder who makes his opponents earn every single point. He is one of the hardest working guys on tour, with a very busy tournament schedule. He has also been ranked in the top 10 every year since 2005.
Del Potro started out slowly but picked it up marginally in the second set before being broken again. He could not take advantage of his break point chances, as Davydenko saved all three of them.
The hotly contested tournament began last Sunday with each of the eight players playing three round robin matches.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal, the No. 2 ranked player in the world, lost all three of his matches as did countryman Fernando Verdasco.
In truth, very little separated the players in this tournament. Verdasco lost two of his three matches in third-set tiebreakers. Of the 15 matches played, 10 needed a third and deciding set.
Andy Roddick was unable to partake due to injury and was replaced by ninth-ranked Soderling, who had reached the French Open final.
In the doubles event, Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 7–6, 6–3 to finish the year as the top-ranked doubles team in the world for the fifth time.