ATP World Tour No. 9 Nikolay Davydenko was in devastating form as he won his second ATP World Tour title in as many weeks with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over fifth seed Juan Carlos Ferrero Sunday in the final of the ATP Studena Croatia Open, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Umag.
Last week, the Russian captured the ATP World Tour 500 title in Hamburg (d. Mathieu) and subsequently regained his position in the Top 10 of the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings. In winning his 10th successive match, Davydenko captured his 16th ATP World Tour title from his 21st final – the sixth best record among active players.
“I played really good in the semi-final and final here, I don't know why, maybe it is luck,” commented Davydenko, who crushed Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-1 on Saturday. “Really everything was perfect today. My next tournament is ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Montreal, but right now I just want to enjoy Umag and then I'll think about the American hard-court season later. I hope to come back here again next year."
The victory added further impetus to Davydenko’s campaign to qualify for the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals as he received 250 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points. Last year, when the season finale was held in Shanghai, he reached the final - finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic.
It is the first time in his career that the 28-year-old Davydenko has won back-to-back titles. His one previous effort in successive finals in 2008 saw him triumph at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami (d. Nadal) but finish runner-up at Estoril (ret vs. Federer).
Against former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, Davydenko picked up where he left off in the semi-finals with a high success rate behind his first serve – winning 23 of 28 points. The Russian combatted losing his own serve once by capitalising on six of 10 break point opportunities on Ferrero’s serve and winning over half (59 per cent) the points on his Spanish opponent’s serve to wrap up victory in 70 minutes.
"It was very tough at the beginning until 3-3 in the first set and then I made the break and continued to play very fast,” assessed Davydenko. “At the start of the second set I could see that he was a little bit tired and losing his concentration so I kept playing good.”
“I had spoken to a few players and I had heard that Davydenko was playing very good all week, moving very fast and hitting a lot of winners,” said Ferrero, who toiled through a two-hour, 38-minute semi-final with Andreas Seppi on Saturday. “I tried to start very aggressively but he was too good in the end today. Maybe I was also a little bit tired in the second set. He played at a really high rhythm from the first point to the last today. I wasn't able to recover as I would have liked after a long three-set match yesterday.”
Davydenko maintained his perfect record of not dropping a set this week. Aside from one tie-break set in the quarter-finals (vs. Bolelli), the Russian has not even been extended past three games in any of the 10 sets he has played during the tournament.
Since suffering a left heel injury in Chennai that interrupted the first three months of his season, Davydenko has hit back strongly – reaching quarter-finals at Roland Garros (l. to Soderling), ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo (l. to Murray) and Stuttgart (l. to Fognini) and posting semi-final efforts at Barcelona (l. to Nadal) and Estoril (l. to Blake). Since the start of Roland Garros, the right-hander has compiled a sizzling 18-3 record alone; he is 30-8 for the season.
The 29-year-old Ferrero was chasing his 13th tour-level title and second of the season, having ended a six-year title drought in April by clinching the Casablanca crown (d. Serra).
The Spaniard has also been in strong form of late, enjoying a stellar grass-court season with a semi-final appearance at London/Queen’s Club and a quarter-final effort at Wimbledon (l. to Murray both times). His efforts have been rewarded with a climb back up from outside the Top 100 of the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings to his current position of No. 36.
“I think I had a very good week this week in Umag,” said Ferrero. “I won some more points, which is important for my ranking and I have a lot of confidence now for the hard-court season. I would like to finish the year in the Top 15."
It is the first time since 2005 (Vienna, Barcelona) that the Spaniard has reached multiple ATP World Tour finals in the same season. In 2003, the right-hander won his lone Grand Slam title at Roland Garros (d. Verkerk) and reached the US Open final (l. to Roddick) to peak at No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.
Davai Kolya and may you have great success during the USA hard court season.