Nikolay Davydenko: 'I had to apply Roger Federer's tactic in the final.. it worked'

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Nikolay Davydenko: 'I had to apply Roger Federer's tactic in the final.. it worked'

In 2009, the ATP Finals moved from Shanghai to London and found its new home for the next 12 editions. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were there to prove their ranking positions, but none of them reached 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 a place in the semis from Group B instead of them. Even more significant turmoils happened in Group A, where the organizers needed to bring math books to determine who will make the semis, with Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Murray all finishing with two wins and a 5-4 set ratio!

Roger finished first, with a 44-40 game ratio, while Juan Martin edged Andy by one game to join him in the last four! The semi-final encounters were tight and intense, both wrapped up in a tense deciding set, 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 Shanghai Masters.

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

As always when he was at the top of his game, Davydenko covered the court beautifully, hitting with the same intensity from both wings and every part of the field, with Juan Martin struggling to keep that pace. The Russian dropped just 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.

Nikolay Davydenko tried to be super aggressive at the ATP Finals 2009.

Nikolay earned a break chance in game four before Juan Martin repelled it with a forehand winner, failing to the same with the second and sending the Russian 3-1 up.

The more experienced player lost one point on serve in the opening three games, placing his shots superbly and spreading del Potro around the baseline. Out of a sudden, Juan Martin got a chance to pull the break back in game seven 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 for the set in game nine and holding at love with two winners and two forced errors from Delpo to grab the opener in 38 minutes. The Russian hit 40% of his shots from inside the baseline while Juan Martin stood on just 20%, pushed away by the sheer power of the rival's well-placed strokes.

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.

The sixth game could have also been crucial, and the Argentine missed the opportunity to move 4-2 in front after Davydenko repelled a break opportunity with an ace down the T line. Another break opportunity 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 gain a 5-4 lead, serving for the crown in the next game.

An ace brought him a match point, seizing it when Juan Martin netted a tricky forehand to raise his hands and celebrate the most significant moment of his career and notable wins in back-to-back days. "My most significant victory came against Roger Federer in the ATP Finals' semi-final in London 2009, since I never beat him before.

I had wins against Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, everyone in the top-10 but not Roger Federer. After that, things were much easier for me in the title match against Juan Martin del Potro. My plan for the final was to play short points at any cost, just like Roger Federer does.

I had to hit fast and aggressive strokes and keep points on my racquet. I stepped on the court, felt the ball and did everything in my power to seal the deal in straight sets. I was nervous during the match point, and emotions started to blow out after I won," Nikolay Davydenko said.