Yes it was a brutal loss to handle. When he went up 4-2 in the third I couldn't stand still because I was so excited. But in the end I'm still happy about his tournament and year. If someone told me a year ago that he would lose in the semifinal in the year end championship then I would have been extremely happy about that. I think I'm almost as exhausted as Robin after this season, I need a break to get my energy back for next season
The format is perfect for Davydenko and his workoholic style. I like him and his game but I think it's a good thing that this format isn't used more often since it would feel wrong for someone to win a grand slam mostly on physic. Of course it's a big part of tennis and success in the grand slams (just look at Nadal and Djokovic) but I don't want it to be as important as in the WTF.
I'm trying to remember the last time I felt so depressed after a match.
As a fan of Nalby, I've gotten used to some roller coaster losses, but not too many where I felt he was the equal or better player at the end of a tight match and the result wasn't reflective of his performance, but simply of him not yet believing in himself in a tough match against an in form opponent.
Del Pony proved to me during the summer season that he has icewater water in his veins when he beat Roddick 7-6 in the third set at the Legg Mason, defeated Rodick and Rafa again in Montreal in close matches and took the U.S. Open against Fed when he seemed down and out. This quality of winning tight matches when your opponent is playing at a really high level too appears to me to be the final step one needs to make to become a top 5 players. Robin is sitting on the edge of that capability right now, but still lacks the killer instinct when his foe is also bringing their "A" game. That is the one last step he needs to make. Noone blows a healthy or even slightly injured Robin away anymore. Noone must look forward to a match with him based on his results the past 8 months.
He ended the year 49-21, remarkable when you realize he began the year with a 9-10 record. That means he went 40-11 from May through the end of the year. The significant losses since the French Open Final:
L Roger Federer 4th Round, Wimbledon 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-7(5)
L Lleyton Hewitt, Cincinnatti Maters, 6-3, 6-7(8), 4-6
L Roger Federer, U.S. Open 0-6, 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-7(6)
L Nikolay Davydenko, Kuala Lampur 6-1, 6-7(1), 2-6
L Novak Djokoic, Beijing ATP500 L 3-6, 3-6
L Feliciano Lopez, Shanghai Masters 6-7(4), 3-6
L Marcos Baghdatis, SF, Stockholm Open, W/O
L Novak Djokovic, Paris Masters, 4-6, 6-1, 3-6
L Nickolay Davydenko, RR, London WTF 6-7(4), 6-4, 3-6
L Juan-Martin Del Potro, SF, London WTF 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-7(3)
Other than those 2 losses in bold and the withdrawal at the Stockholm Open which was during the period where his elbow was severely injured, Robin's performances in defeat we're against top ranked players, and he took them to their limits before losing. Every single one of those matches could have gone his way if he had come through on a few crucial points. This is great news, but rather frustrating as a fan. As well as he did this year, he was even closer to making a major breakthrough than we realize when examing these results.
So when he broke Del Pony at 4-2 in the third set, I was feeling high as a kite at the time; I expected him to close it out and could just taste the feelings of redemption for him making it to the Final. The fact that he had a loose service game right afterwards would seem to suggest he still needs to work on mental toughness in the biggest matches. But many people were predicting that Del Pony would wipe him out, and that clearly didn't happen. Nor for that matter, does any player beat him decisively anymore, including Fed. Remember Robin was a point away from a 5th set at the U.S. Open, another tough loss, and was only broken once in Fed's 6-4, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) victory over him at Wimbledon.
I believe the more matches he plays against the top players, the more likely he is to get over this mental blockage. Even when he defeated Nole 7-6 (5), 6-1, it is hard to ignore the fact he had three break points at 5-4 on Nole's serve and played a horrible game afterwards to lose his set points. It's just a matter of gaining some self-belief, but as a fan it is difficult to watch him outplaying the best in the world, and then playing tight when the finishing line is in sight. He is soooo close to making some major breakthroughs. Next season should be fascinating and the big question will be this: if Robin is playing a Fed, Nole or Del Pony in the last set of a tight match, and breaks to go ahead, will he be able to close out the match. If he starts doing that, we should have a great year as fans. If not, we may have to endure some more "should've won" losses which are hard to stomach. But the ATP has taken note: this guy is for real and is a mental belief away from contending for major titles. If he could just beat Fed, Nole or Del Pony 7-6 in the third set once, maybe that is all it would take.