With archrival Rafael Nadal booted out of the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai by a bum knee, defending champion Roger Federer was the odds-on frontrunner for the title. Yet, still troubled by a bad back, Federer petered out in the round robin stage. Instead, the final was pretty much a one sided affair with Serb Novak Djokovic defeating Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 7-5.
For reigning Australian champion, Djokovic, this year has been a roller coaster. After starting out blazing, the Serb cooled off midway. Except for ousting Nadal in the ATP masters final in Miami, Davydenko has had dismal results. Although Davydenko lost to Djokovic in round robin play, in the semifinals he convincingly beat Brit Andy Murray. Moreover, Djokovic had a tough match against Frenchman Gilles Simon. Thus, it’s a shame the Russian could not perform better in the finals.
Two words best summarize the first set, fast and dull. Djokovic’s seemingly interminable ball bouncing extended the set more than the actual playing time. After holding serve, Djokovic put away a forehand winner. Then, Novak drew a backhand error from Nikolay for double break point. When the Russian netted a backhand, the Serb secured his first break for 2-0. Djokovic broke down his opponent’s backhand to pull ahead 5-1. While serving for the set, Novak made two unforced errors and overcooked a volley to face double break point. However, with two good serves and a crosscourt forehand error by Davydenko, Djokovic arrived at deuce. Subsequently, with a flaming crosscourt backhand, Djokovic forced another backhand error from the Russian and punctuated the set.
With his first serve deserting him, his backhand on early sabbatical and his stronger wing, the forehand, cracking, Davydenko really had no chance. After Nikolay got on the board in the second set, with well-angled serves, Novak put away the short balls to level things at 1-1. Due to a double fault, Davydenko gave Djokovic another break point chance in the third game and went down 1-2 after misconnecting on a backhand volley. With movement not Davydenko’s stronger suit, Djokovic exploited that weakness, running him corner to corner. Nevertheless, despite facing numerous break points, the Russian kept his disadvantage to a single break. As Djokovic served for the championship at 5-4, he committed two unforced errors while Davydenko came up with a timely forehand volley for double break point. Then, thanks to a double fault, Davydenko stayed alive. After this momentary lapse, Djokovic converted a backhand crosscourt winner, duplicated it on the forehand, and then got a backhand down the line error from Davydenko for double break point. When Davydenko made another forehand error, Djokovic was again in the driver seat at 6-5. Subsequently, the Serb rounded out the match with a love game to take his first year-end trophy.