ATP Finals Flashback: Nikolay Davydenko claims title at new London venue

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ATP Finals Flashback: Nikolay Davydenko claims title at new London venue

The ATP Finals moved from Shanghai to London in 2009 and found its new home for the next 12 editions. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were in the draw, but none would reach the final, a rare scene in those years at the notable events.

Nadal and Djokovic failed to pass the round-robin stage, with Nikolay Davydenko and Robin Soderling earning the semi-final spots from Group B instead. Even more significant turmoils happened in Group A. The organizers needed to open math books to determine the semi-finalists, with Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Murray finishing with two wins and a 5-4 set ratio!

Roger topped the group with a 44-40 game ratio, while Juan Martin overcame Andy by a single game to join him in the last four! The semi-final encounters were tight and intense, both wrapped up in the deciding set's closing stages, with the US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko setting the ultimate clash on November 29.

After 84 minutes, the Russian delivered a 6-3, 6-4 triumph, fending off all three break points and stealing the rival's serve once in each set to lift the most prestigious title of his career, a few weeks after his triumph at the Shanghai Masters 1000 event.

A day earlier, Nikolay took down Roger Federer for the first time in 13 encounters, earning a boost to go all the way in the title match and outplay the Argentine for his 19th ATP title. It was their fourth meeting and the third and last victory for Nikolay, as del Potro grabbed the final three clashes to finish on the positive side of their rivalry.

Davydenko covered the court beautifully, hitting with the same intensity from both wings and every part of the field, which Juan Martin couldn't repeat. The Russian dropped 13 points in ten service games, pushing his opponent to the limits with deep and precise returns and taking 12 out of 21 points on del Potro's second serve to create those chances.

In 2009, Nikolay Davydenko claimed the first ATP Finals crown in London.

Nikolay earned a break point in game four, denied by a Juan Martin's forehand winner before converting the second to open a 3-1 lead. The more experienced player lost one point on serve in the opening three games, placing his shots superbly and spreading del Potro over the baseline.

Out of a sudden, Juan Martin got a chance to pull the break back at 2-4 before Davydenko closed the door with a well-constructed attack and a forehand winner to keep his serve intact. Another forehand winner sent Nikolay 5-2 in front, serving in game nine and holding at love with two winners to grab the opener in 38 minutes.

The Russian hit 40% of his shots from inside the baseline while Juan Martin stood on 20%, pushed away by the rival's strokes' sheer power. It was a solid start for both in set number two, and del Potro was the first to experience troubles on serve, having to play against a break chance at 2-2.

He saved it with a good serve and had to deliver another one to repel the second, bringing the game home with a beautiful half-volley to remain on the positive side and in contention. The sixth game could have also been crucial, as the Argentine missed the opportunity to move 4-2 in front when Davydenko repelled a break opportunity with an ace down the T line.

Another break point could have cost the Russian the set but he stayed focused, bringing a nice serve&volley combo and holding after another good attack for 3-3. Both players delivered commanding holds in the next couple of games to stay locked at 4-4, and Nikolay was the one who shifted into a higher gear in game nine, firing three winners to earn three break chances.

He forced an error from del Potro to break him at love and move 5-4 up, serving for the crown in the next game. An ace brought a match point, and the Russian seized it when Juan Martin netted a tricky forehand, raising his hands and celebrating the most significant moment of his career.