November 15, 2008

Superb Davydenko Sends Murray Crashing

Nikolay Davydenko
© AFP/Getty Images

ATP World No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko produced a superb semifinal display to send Andy Murray crashing out 7-5, 6-2 and reach the final of Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai on Saturday.

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The Russian is playing at Tennis Masters Cup for the fourth time and is through to the final for the first time, improving on his previous best semifinal effort (l. to Nalbandian) on his debut in 2005.

The 27 year old will look to avenge his tight Gold Group round robin loss against Novak Djokovic earlier in the week when the pair meets in the final on Sunday. More. Davydenko had won their one previous meeting in the Davis Cup first round when Djokovic retired with dizziness and exhaustion when leading by two sets to one.

Davydenko vs. Djokovic: Head-to-Head

"Djokovic (will) have more confidence in the final," said Davydenko. "But I didn't see really good match today for Djokovic. He sometime show, but not constant, not like every game, every point. That's why maybe I have chance tomorrow because we play the same game. Okay, I lost 7-﷓5 in the third in the first match against him, but is a different situation. It's a final. Who be tomorrow more physically fit and who be not so nervous. I think then he can win the tournament."

"I think Davydenko will win," said Murray. "Djokovic had a long match today. Davydenko's probably going to be fresher. I think that should make a big difference."

Great Britain’s Andy Murray had set up the meeting with Davydenko after prevailing in an epic late-night encounter against Roger Federer on Friday evening, which saw the Swiss superstar’s campaign come to an end and Murray top the Red Group. The Scot was made to pay the price for his exertions on Saturday though as Davydenko dictated play and made him run from start to finish.

Breaks were exchanged in the opening two games in a nervy start from both players. Davydenko had chances to break in the third game, but Murray was able to keep the Russian at bay until the 11th game, when his backhand clipped the net and landed wide, handing Davydenko a 6-5 lead. The Volgograd resident wasted no time in capitalizing on his opportunity, closing out the set with a backhand winner.

As Murray tried to keep the points short, Davydenko was quick to chase down every ball and reaped the rewards as he comfortably dealt with Murray’s serve and volley attempt on break point at 2-3 in the second set, forcing the Scot to send his second volley wide and earn a 4-2 lead. Having trailed initially 1-2 in the second set, Davydenko reeled off five straight games to close out the victory in 1 hr., 39 min.

"I didn't feel great," said Murray. "But he's a tough guy to play against when you're not sort of feeling like you can chase every ball down. He doesn't miss a whole lot. He takes the ball so early. I thought he played really, really well, and I couldn't get much going because he was making me do a lot of running."

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"Murray wanted to show everyone here he is the best player because he beat Federer. He wanted to beat Federer. And maybe, maybe he is really tired for today," said Davydenko afterwards. "Recovery in 24 hours after a three hour match is very difficult. If he lost the tiebreak in the second set (against Federer) he would have more chance to recover today."

The right-hander is chasing his fourth ATP title of the season to add to victories at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (d. Nadal), Poertschach (d. Monaco) and Warsaw (d. Robredo). The top Russian has an impressive 14-4 career mark in ATP finals and stands on a 56-20 match record for the season.

Dunblane native Murray closes his season on a 58-16 match record, having won a British Open Era record five ATP titles at Doha (d. Wawrinka), Marseille (d. Ancic), Masters Series Cincinnati (d. Djokovic), Masters Series Madrid (d. Simon) and St. Petersburg (d. Golubev). The right-hander also reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open, where he defeated World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals before losing to Federer in the championship match.

"I was just very happy with the way I played (this week) in the matches that I could have done," said Murray. "The year as a whole has been awesome. At the end of last year, if someone would have told me I was going to be No. 4 in the world, won the matches I had done, be to in my first slam final, beating Federer three times, I would have taken that. I hope I can build on it next year."




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