May All Beings Be Happy!!
ATP under fire after clearing Davydenko of not trying
Steve Bierley in Shanghai
Wednesday November 14, 2007
There has always been a suspicion, given Nikolay Davydenko's personal attack in April on Etienne de Villiers, the chief executive of the ATP, accusing him of incompetence, that the Russian has been a marked man. The world No4 remains under investigation after a match he was involved in during August in Poland was the subject of irregular betting patterns, but yesterday he won his appeal against a £1,000 fine for allegedly not trying hard enough during a defeat by Croatia's Marin Cilic in St Petersburg last month.
"Following an extensive review of the match that included a full video analysis, it was decided that Davydenko's appeal should be upheld and the fine rescinded," said the ATP's rule chief, Gayle Bradshaw. So why on earth was the Russian, who was injured, ever pulled up in the first place, and why was his playing integrity under question again during the Paris Masters? Small wonder that Ronnie Leitgeb, Davydenko's Austrian manager, believes that so many of his problems stem from simple misunderstandings, a view that the ATP has done little to dispel prior to this decision.
The betting investigation is ongoing although, according to Leitgeb, the ATP has failed to unearth any incriminating evidence against Davydenko. It has done little or nothing to dilute the mounting insinuations that have washed over the Russian and has now been left with egg on its face over the non-trying fine that should never have been issued. Worse, there was no official word of apology yesterday, which was disgraceful. Should the betting investigation also clear him, the pressure will mount on De Villiers's leadership. Indeed the whole fabric of the ATP, an intrinsically flawed body, will come under increased scrutiny.
Leitgeb hopes the betting investigation will be resolved quickly. "I've seen signs of a real mental burn-out. Nikolay is the one who is suffering and still I cannot understand why the first thing Betfair did was to make a press announcement without talking to him, without talking to anybody. From the very beginning he didn't get a fair chance on this."
There were more surprises in the Tennis Masters Cup yesterday following Roger Federer's shock defeat by Fernando González on Monday. Rafael Nadal began the day in buoyant mood, believing that Federer's current uncertainty could only work in his favour. The Spanish world No2 is finally clear of injury, having suffered tendinitis in both knees during the US Open where he was beaten in the fourth round by his fellow countryman, David Ferrer. Most believed that defeat had been an aberration but up bounced Ferrer again in the Qi Zhong stadium to confound both Nadal and the experts once again, winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
There is no secret to Ferrer's success; he simply runs and runs, driving his opponents to the point of distraction. "It's crazy," said Nadal, whose own high-energy game has driven many mad - notably Federer on the clay of Roland Garros and increasingly so at Wimbledon. Ferrer is a commoner cocking a snook at the tennis aristocracy. His plan is not particularly cunning but it is certainly upsetting the applecart this week. Perhaps the ATP will try to fine him for trying too much.
In his opening round robin match he defeated Novak Djokovic, the world No 3 who suffered a second loss at the hands of France's Richard Gasquet yesterday and consequently lost all chance of reaching Saturday's semi-finals. The 20-year-old Serb, who has been the rising star of this season, has simply run out of gas, having played no fewer than 86 singles matches. But he could yet stymie Nadal's semi-final ambitions by beating him in their last round robin match tomorrow. Indeed it remains an unlikely possibility that neither Nadal nor Federer will feature this weekend, which would be extraordinary.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007