Re: Mikhail Youzhny: Articles & Interviews
Youzhny, unbreakable spirit?
Mikhail Youzhny, the Russian who was the first player to make it into the finales yesterday in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, is able to keep his cool, as he proved when he won the decisive match in the Davis Cup back in 2002 and, again yesterday afternoon in Ahoy Rotterdam, when he managed to survive three match points in a heated contest against Novak Djokovic. The Russian conqueror thanked the stands with his unique salute after two and a half hours of that could almost be qualified celestial. Will Youzhny raise his racquet to the crowd again at the end of today’s match?
The indescribably beautiful semi-finals match between the 19-year old Serbian super talent and Muscovite Youzhny, five years his opponent’s senior, was an encounter that many thought neither player deserved to lose. In his post-match comments, even Youzhny showed a desire to share the honours: “I wasn’t any better than Novak today, I was just luckier.”
However, number 22 on the ATP list short-changed himself with that comment. He demonstrated a certain mental superiority over his opponent in the afternoon match yesterday. Djokovic was working on the match point at 6-5 in the tiebreak of the second set when Youzhny produced a dangerously deep service to win the rally. When it appeared that the ‘child prodigy’ from Serbia was ready to eat his opponent up and spit him out at 3-0 in the third set, Youzhny again demonstrated his great mental resilience. “I was also one break behind in my match against Djokovic last week in Marseille”, said Youzhny after the match. “But I won that match and that’s what I was thinking as I played out this one. Giving up a service doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done with for good.”
How right the Russian was became apparent when the match reached its blood-chilling climax. Djokovic made two match points at 5-4, but the Russian recovered magnificently both times. Apparently, the shock was too much for Djokovic. He was forced to give up his service after hitting two double faults in the next game and that ultimately proved fatal for the Serbian. Youzhny is pitted against the Croatian Ivan Ljubicic in the finale today. Youzhny has met Ljubicic in the past, but has not come out of any of the six matches he has played against the Croatian the winner.