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October 19, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Davydenko topples Nadal for crown

AN inspired Nikolay Davydenko beat top seed and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal 7-6 (3), 6-3 to become the first Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 champion yesterday.

The sixth seed blasted winners from both sides throughout the two-hour contest at the Qizhong Tennis Center in suburban Minhang District, winning a tight first set 7-3 in the tiebreak and then getting the only break of the second to secure his fourth title of the year.

Spaniard Nadal, still short of his best form after the knee and abdominal injuries that have disrupted his season, battled gamely in his first final since May, but always looked second best against the gutsy Russian.

Davydenko, the world No. 8, sealed his fourth win in four finals this year when the Australian Open champion went long with a backhand, and a subsequent Hawkeye challenge ruled in the Russian's favor.

"I've only lost five (career) finals and that was my 18th win," said the 28-year-old. "In finals I can play well but I need to get to the finals."

The 28-year-old bounced up and down in delight at his victory and then raced over to kiss his wife Irina, who has been supporting him from the stands all week in Shanghai.

Davydenko may not be the most glamorous player in tennis but he has finished in the top five in the world for the last four years and beat Nadal in two sets in their last meeting in a Masters series final in Miami last year.

"I don't like to lose," said Nadal. "I had my chances but he beat me. He deserved the victory."

Baseline battle

A long rally on the first point set the tone for a baseline battle with both players trying to blow the covers off the ball and stretch their opponent.

The Russian, who lost the Masters Cup final on the same court last year, got the first breakthrough as early as the third game, moving to the net to volley home a winner.

Nadal has not won six grand slam titles without being able to dig deep, though, and he saved two break points on his next service game before using his slice to great effect to get himself back in the match at 4-4.

Davydenko kept up the pressure, however, and it was no surprise when he raced to a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak, clinching it three points later with another sizzling forehand winner.

The second set continued in similar vein with Davydenko now full of confidence and still finding winners whenever Nadal sent him anything short over the net. The 23-year-old former world No. 1 missed a backhand to give his opponent a break for 4-2 and the Russian held his nerve to serve out for victory.

Davydenko's victory earned him US$616,500 and will greatly enhance his chances of securing one of the three remaining spots at the World Tour Finals in London next month.

The doubles title went to Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who swept past the sixth-seeded Polish duo of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-2, 6-4.


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