Dragon Slayer Davydenko Drops Nadal at Doha

by John on January 10, 2010

Nikolay Davydenko overcame a first set bagel and saved two match points yesterday to defeat Rafael Nadal 0-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 in the final of the Qatar Open. The title was Davydenko’s second in a row and 20th of his career. The 28-year-old Russian won the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in November, defeating both Nadal and No. 1-ranked Roger Federer, just as he did in Doha. David Nalbandian is the only other player to defeat Federer and Nadal in the same tournament on two occasions. The Argentine accomplished the feat at Masters events in Madrid and Paris in 2007. “I did not come here expecting to win. I am surprised that I have won,” Davydenko said. “It’s an amazing feeling to have won here. I have played semifinals and finals here but never won.” The win was Davydenko’s third straight over Nadal and improved his record to 5-4 against the Spaniard. Davydenko, ranked No. 6, lost his serve three times in the first set and trailed 0-1 in the second before getting on the board. The Russian broke for a 3-2 lead, but squandered a set point serving at 5-4 as Nadal levelled with a break. Davydenko staved off match points at 5-6 and 7-8 in the tiebreaker and then prevailed with a backhand winner down the line on his second set point. Davydenko had two breaks in the third set, the second ending the match after two hours and 43 minutes of riveting play. “[In the second set] I started to find my game and started to come back. I should have won the second set at 5-4 with set point, but I didn’t and I was lucky in the tie-break,” Davydenko said. “The match was long, I was really tired, but in the third set I still felt I had some power and maybe I could continue and win the match. I don’t know what happened to him at the end. He tried a winner at 4-4, he didn’t make it and it was 5-4 for me. I think he lost a little bit of concentration and lost the match. For me it was a really good fight today.” For Nadal the title drought continues. The No. 2-ranked Spaniard’s last championship was at Rome in early May. “Congratulations to Nikolay, he played unbelievable tennis,” Nadal said. “He played better than I did.”

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