Chris Tortise sees fireworks at ATP World Tour semis ahead of Davydenko v Del Potro.
|Nikolay Davydenko celebrates match point and his biggest career win [GALLO/GETTY]|
After such a stunning week of tennis played in the best venue imaginable for such an event, it is a shame the final was slightly anti-climatic.
Russian Nikolay Davydenko claimed victory in the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro at London’s magnificent O2 Arena.
Davydenko was the somewhat surprising winner of the tournament and claimed the biggest title of his career so far.
In doing so he beat the world number one Roger Federer, and world number two Rafael Nadal.
But the organisers of the Tour Finals must adjust the timings of the matches played at the O2 Arena in London.
As the youngest player in the draw, Del Potro grew in stature throughout this week of spectacular matches, and deserved his final spot.
And yet he could not produce his best tennis following an epic match on Saturday night against Robin Soderling, finishing at past 11pm local time.
That is not to say other players didn’t cope.
Davydenko followed his late Friday night finish with a hard-fought victory over world number one Roger Federer at lunchtime on Saturday.
Perhaps the US Open champion needs to learn from this experience and improve his fitness in order to cope with such a quick turnaround.
He should perhaps do some off-season training with his older conqueror.
Coming of age
At 28, Davydenko is late in his career. And although he has regularly featured in the top ten in the past five years, people have been surprised to see him do so well in this year’s tournament.
True, he lacks that killer shot. His serve is solid and ground strokes accurate. But missing the final flourish has limited his success.
On Sunday, he dispelled criticisms about his unimaginative play – some have even gone so far as to say he is boring – and showed the world quite what he is capable of.
He played the match to perfection, drawing Del Potro into error after error, and at times even out-hitting the powerful Argentine.
With a break in either set, the world number six secured around $1.5 million in prize money with his win.
But perhaps the thing he will treasure more than the money and the title is his first win over Roger Federer.
|Small but deadly: Del Potro congratulates his tiny opponent [AFP]|
On his 13th attempt, he served out against the 15-time Grand Slam champion and the confidence he should gain from that victory will be extraordinary.
Davydenko deserves a huge amount of praise for his performance this week. He won 17,500 fans on Sunday and many more throughout the tournament, as crowds warmed to his skill and wit.
In the post-match interview following his win, he was asked what he would buy Irina, his wife, with his substantial prize money.
“I think it’s too much…” replied the champion.
Cue laughs all round (except from Mrs Davydenko, no doubt).
London has proved a worthy host for this prestigious season-ending championship.
It will be back next year – hopefully with a few changes – and no doubt will be packed to the Pat Rafters once again.
And if this year’s tournament is anything to go by, the tickets will be worth every penny.
Who knows, the English capital may be welcoming back Davydenko as the world number one this time next year.
And he would deserve every ranking point.