LONDON (Reuters) – Russian iron man Nikolay Davydenko cut Juan Martin del Potro down to size yesterday with a comfortable 6-3 6-4 win over the towering Argentine to claim the ATP World Tour Finals title.
The final was not the blockbuster tournament organizers would wished to conclude a dazzling debut for London’s first hosting of the season-ending showpiece.
But few of the 17,500 fans inside the O2 Arena would question Davydenko’s right to walk off with a $1.5 million cheque in his pocket and the biggest title of his career.
From the moment the jet-heeled baseliner broke Del Potro’s serve in the fourth game of the match he looked in complete control, neutralizing the greater power of his opponent with a superb display of precision and consistency.
Del Potro’s mighty forehand, the weapon that clubbed Roger Federer to defeat in the final of the U.S. Open final in September, was rarely in evidence as he slipped to defeat in one hour 23 minutes, one of the shortest of the 15 matches between the world’s elite in the past eight days.
“For me it was amazing to come here ranked at seven in the world and to win the tournament, I surprised myself,” Davydenko, said after winning his fifth title of the year and the 19th of his career.
“From the first game I was positive, everything was feeling good. I know the history of this tournament, like Federer, Djokovic, Sampras. Now my name is on the trophy. Maybe now, I’ll be a little bit more famous in London.
Del Potro, who would have moved to a career high four in the ATP rankings had he won the title, looked jaded from the exertions of his four previous matches, all of which went to three sets including his semi-final against Swede Robin Soderling which finished late on Saturday.
DEL POTRO TRIBUTE
Whatever the 21-year-old unleashed on Sunday, Davydenko simply chased it down and came up with something better, tormenting Del Potro with baseline-hugging ground strokes and clever angles that kept his opponent guessing throughout.
“He’s very fast, he plays like a Playstation game, he runs everywhere and it’s very difficult to make winners. He’s a great champion,” Del Potro, who was upset by a foot fault when dropping serve at 2-1 in the first set, told reporters.
Davydenko’s challenge had begun with defeat last Monday against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in his opening round-robin match.
But he recovered from that loss with inspired victories over Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and finally Del Potro, who between them won all the grand slam prizes on offer this year.
With each match he seemed to get better and he scaled the heights on Saturday when he beat Federer for the time in 13 attempts, a victory that fueled his belief against Del Potro.
A weak Del Potro backhand gave Davydenko the decisive service break at 1-2 in the first set and only once did the Argentine threaten to make a real scrap of it, when he created some chances to break the Davydenko serve midway through the second set only for his opponent to snuff out the danger.