Nikolay Davydenko's best season came in 2009, ten years after he became a pro. The Russian won five titles that year, including his maiden Masters 1000 crown in Shanghai and the first edition of the ATP Finals in London.
In the repeat of the last year's final, Davydenko won the opening set against the defending champion Novak Djokovic in London before falling in three tight sets, bouncing back against Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling to reach the semis.
There, Davydenko faced the most formidable rival on November 28, seeking his first victory over Roger Federer in 13 encounters! The Russian defeated the Swiss 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in an hour and 56 minutes to reach the second consecutive title match at the premium ATP event.
The four-time champion stood just two points away from the victory in the deciding set's tenth game before losing three straight games to end his run in the semis and miss the title for the second year in a row. Davydenko served at only 54% and did his best to draw the most from it, defending his initial shot and staying in touch with Roger.
The Russian took five points more than the 15-time Major champion and fended off four out of six break points to keep the pressure on the other side. Federer's first serve worked like a charm, but the second put him in trouble, having to play against five break chances and dropping serve four times to stay away from the title chase.
Roger fired three winners in the first game and had an opportunity to grab an instant break in the next one. Nikolay repelled two break points to avoid an early setback, leveling the score at 1-1 after a Federer's forehand error.
At the ATP Finals in 2009, Nikolay Davydenko scored first victory over Roger Federer.
The Swiss got broken at 1-1, and the Russian moved 3-1 up after a service winner to settle into a nice rhythm. Davydenko played another great return game to break Roger at love and extend the gap to 4-1, losing serve a few minutes later when Federer finally found the way to impose his strokes and draw some errors from his opponent.
Roger continued to struggle behind the initial shot, serving under 40% and falling 5-2 down after Nikolay's third straight break. Serving for the set, Davydenko held at 15 to clinch the opener 6-2 in 30 minutes, outplaying Federer and moving a set away from the final.
With no room for further mistakes, Roger looked good behind the initial shot in set number two and scored a late break at 5-4 to clinch the set and build momentum ahead of the decider. Federer stepped in and took the ball early, hitting 40% of the shots from inside the court and taking the timing off from Davydenko's strokes to forge the advantage in the exchanges.
It was all about servers in the opening nine games of the final set, with just five points lost and no deuces or break chances. Roger moved 30-0 up on the return at 5-4, getting closer to the finish line and hoping to seal the deal a few minutes later.
Nikolay remained focused, won the next four points and leveled the score at 5-5. He stayed in touch in the next one before firing a return winner that gave him a crucial break. Ready to fight until the end, Federer created a break chance with a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner that Davydenko denied with a forehand winner.
The Russian earned a match point with a service winner and forced an error from the Swiss to wrap up the triumph, his first in 13 matches against Federer!