The ATP Finals moved from Shanghai to London in 2009 and found its new home for the following 12 editions. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were in the draw. However, none would reach the final, a rare scene in those years at the notable events.
Nadal and the defending champion Djokovic failed to pass the round-robin stage. Instead, Nikolay Davydenko and Robin Soderling earned the semi-final spots from Group B. Even more significant turmoils happened in Group A. The organizers needed to open math books to determine the semi-finalists after Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Murray finished with two wins and a 5-4 set ratio!
Roger topped the group with a 44-40 game ratio, while Juan Martin overcame Andy by a single game to join him in the last four! The semi-final encounters were tight and intense, wrapped up in the deciding set’s closing stages.
The US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko set the ultimate clash on November 29. The Russian delivered a 6-3, 6-4 triumph in 84 minutes. He fended off all three break points and stole the rival’s serve once in each set to lift the most prestigious title of his career a few weeks after conquering the Shanghai Masters.
A day earlier, Nikolay took down Roger Federer for the first time in 13 encounters, earning a boost to go all the way in the title match and outplay the Argentine for his 19th ATP title. It was their fourth meeting and the third and last victory for Nikolay.
Del Potro grabbed the final three clashes to finish on the positive side of their rivalry. Davydenko covered the court beautifully, hitting with the same intensity from both wings and every part of the field, which Juan Martin could not repeat.
The Russian dropped 13 points in ten service games. He pushed his opponent to the limits with deep and precise returns and took 12 out of 21 points on del Potro’s second serve to create those chances.
Nikolay Davydenko claimed the first ATP Finals crown in London in 2009.
Nikolay earned a break point in the encounter’s fourth game.
Juan Martin denied it with a forehand winner before Davydenko converted the second to open a 3-1 lead. The more experienced player lost one point on serve in the opening three games, placing his shots superbly and spreading del Potro over the baseline.
Suddenly, Juan Martin got a chance to pull the break back at 2-4. Nikolay closed the door with a well-constructed attack and a forehand winner to keep his serve intact. Another forehand winner sent Nikolay 5-2 in front, and he held at love with two winners in game nine to grab the opener 6-3 in 38 minutes.
The Russian hit 40% of his shots from inside the baseline while Juan Martin stood on 20%, pushed away by the rival’s strokes’ sheer power. It was a solid start for both in set number two. Del Potro was the first to experience trouble on serve after playing against a break chance at 2-2.
He saved it with a good serve and delivered another to repel the second before bringing the game home with a beautiful half-volley to remain on the positive side. The sixth game could have also been crucial. The Argentine missed an opportunity to move 4-2 in front when the Russian repelled a break point with an ace down the T line.
Another break point could have cost Davydenko the set. However, he stayed focused, produced a nice serve & volley combo and held after another good attack for 3-3. Both players delivered commanding holds in the next couple of games to stay locked at 4-4.
Nikolay shifted into a higher gear in game nine and fired three winners to earn three break chances. He forced del Potro’s error to break him at love and move 5-4 up, serving for the crown in the next game. An ace brought a match point, and Nikolay seized it when Juan Martin netted a tricky forehand, raising his hands and celebrating the most significant moment of his career.
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