Well I wasn’t sure if I’d ever had to make a post saying that Davydenko beat Roger, with Davydenko having a 0-12 head-to-head record against Roger and all. But there is a first for everything, and admittedly Davydenko fully deserved this win. Roger on the other hand have been slightly off par this whole week, losing the first set of every match he played. If you keep losing the first set in the best of three set matches, it is bound to catch up with you eventually. Especially against a strong field like this. In fact it caught up twice with Roger, against both Del Potro and Davydenko. It’s a different story in the best of five set format, because if you lose the first set you have plenty of time to recover. Ivan Lendl use to be like that. He was a slow starter.
In the slams he often lost the first set, but once he hit his stride there was no stopping him. But unfortunately for Roger this was not a slam, and he didn’t have the time to recover as he had done so many times this year in the slams. In the first set it was the same story all over again. He started off getting the break, and I thought that he was finally going to stop this trend of losing the first set against someone who he has had a peRFect record in the past. That was not the case though, as Davydenko broke back and went on to break Roger’s two more times to win the first set. It was yet another very mediocre display from Roger in the first set. But according to the trend he also wakes up in the second set, and there was little doubt in my mind that he would do so again.
Again he started serving better and cleaned up the unforced errors. At 5-4 and Davydenko serving, Roger managed to create a break point, and after a long rally Roger forced the error from Davydenko to level the match at two sets all. Roger let out a loud ‘COME ON!’ as he won the second set, and he was clearly very hungry to win the match. It looked like the momentum had swung once more and Roger continued to pressure Davydenko in the second set. At 5-4 it looked like Roger would get the break again, after going up 30-0 on Davydenko’s serve with an ingenius smash from the base line, after Davydenko failed to put away his own smash at the net. Roger was two points away from winning the match, but this was where Davydenko really started taking the match to Roger, as he won the next four points to hold serve.
Davydenko took advantage of coming back in the previous game by breaking Roger in the next game, with a backhand down the line return winner off a Roger second serve to the ad court. Once more Davydenko took the initiative by hitting that winner, instead of just getting the return in play. Of course I was very disappointed to see Roger get broken at such an important point in the match, but you had to hand it to the Russian as well. The match was not yet over though, because Davydenko would have to hold serve, and Roger was not going to make it easy on him. Roger lost the first two points however, and my hopes of him staging yet another amazing comeback was dwindling. But somehow he managed to win the next three points to set up a break point. Wow!
At this point I was just in awe once more of how tough Roger is in these situations. Was it not for Davydenko who played and incredible point to ward of the break point, I’m sure Roger would have gone on to win this match. On that break point a very tense rally from the baseline ensued, with neither player giving an inch from the base line. Davydenko however came up with a clean forehand cross court winner seemingly from nowhere, which effectively won him the match. If you have the balls to hit a winner in that situation after a good ground stroke from your opponent, you deserve to win. Period. And that’s exactly what Davydenko did. In doing so he did a Roger on Roger. Normally Roger is the player who comes up with the goods in the tense situations, and he came ever so close to doing it again.
Somehow Davydenko managed to turn the tables on him this time, and therefor it was a very deserved win. If you can beat Roger under the circumstances that Davydenko did, you deserve to win the tournament, and that is exactly what Davydenko did. Today he beat Delpo 6-3, 6-4 to win his most important title to date. Del Potro had a tough semi-final match against Soderling, winning 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, and it was the second match yesterday. So he had less time to recover than Davydenko, and he didn’t look all there today. Delpo is a better player than Davydenko for me, but in the end this was Davydenko’s week, and he was a very deserved winner. I’m glad for his sake that he won, and in some sense he came of age in this tournament.
Davydenko has always been a solid top ten player, but he wasn’t really a superstar. He had never won a slam, but the Masters Cup is just below the slams in prestige, and by winning it he will surely now be given more credit. Who knows, he may even get the confidence to win a slam now. Having said that, he will struggle against the likes of Roger in the five set format. Especially if Roger gets some rest and come back fresh next year. You must take into account that Davydenko was out for a big part of the season with injury, while Roger has had an extremely demanding season. Surely the most emotional season of his career thus far. There seems to be quite a few Fedaddicts who is worried again after this latest defeat by Roger, so allow me to put things into perspective for you and soothe your soul.
Roger had a very rough start to this year, after he had renewed hopes to put 2008 behind him once and for all. It seemed he would be able to do just that at the Australian Open, after making it to the final with some impressive tennis. However, he got his heart broken once more by Rafa in the final, after which things continued to get worse for him. So it definitely wasn’t the ideal start to the season for him. I mean he even did something that we haven’t seen him do in years, when he smashed his racquet to pieces in Miami. Then come the clay court season, he managed to turn all that around. He won Madrid and right after won the one grand slam that has always eluded him, the French Open. Now that was a massive win in terms of Roger’s career, on so many different levels.
It was also an extremely demanding tournament both mentally and physically for Roger, like the French Open always is. Along with the Australian Open it is probably the toughest major to win, and it takes a lot out of you. So big emotion involved there. Then he goes onto Wimbledon, and in an epic final with Roddick he goes on to become the first man to win fifteen grand slam titles. Again, big emotion. As if all that wasn’t enough, Mirka gave birth to twin girls after Wimbledon, which is yet another big emotional thing in Roger’s life. And finally Roger goes all the way to the US Open final once more, and loses to Del Potro after having the match under control. So as you can see it has been a very good year for Roger, but also a very demanding and emotional one.
You can begin to see that Roger being a little below par during the end of the season is totally normal. But despite this fact, Roger still qualifies on top of what was probably the toughest group of the Master Cup. It was only an inspired Davydenko that could stop his march to yet another Masters Cup title. I’m sure if you were feeling a little low because of Roger’s loss, you will be feeling a bit better by now. If not, you are hard to please. If you think about it, the French Open almost counts as two majors for Roger. Not only is it physically and mentally extremely demanding to win in Paris, but it is also something that Roger could never do before, and it left a gaping hole in his record. I can’t speak for Roger, but I think in terms of his legacy it is more important to win the career slam than having one more slam at the end of the day.
On top of all this, Roger has had by far the best season in the majors this year, which is the most important thing in the end. I’m not gonna count the ranking points now, but after Roger, the players who did the best in the majors are Delpo, Rafa, then Murray and Roddick is pretty close, and then Djokovic. Therefor Roger deservedly ended the year ranked number one, which is by the way another very important achievement. If you look at Roger’s slam results, he made all four finals, while winning two of them and losing two of them in five sets. The second closest player to him in the slams was Delpo, who made the quarter finals in the Australian Open, semi-finals at the French, second round at Wimbledon, and of course the title in New York.
So as far as the slams go, Roger is still in another class than the rest of the field. And when it comes to tennis, it’s all about the slams. The slams are what matter in the final analysis, when a players greatness is determined. And as far as Roger goes, he is an absolute legend in the slams. People who think Roger is in decline need to keep it to themselves, because you can’t possibly call a guy who won two slams and lost in the other two’s finals ‘in decline’. That’s just wrong. As if that wasn’t enough, Roger won two Master’s Series shields along the way, something he couldn’t do in the whole 2008 season, and he reclaimed the number one spot. I am not going to deny that Roger is not quite as dominant as he was before, but to say he is in decline is once again a very negative term.
Does it really matter that much how well Roger performs outside of the slams? No, because he is getting older and he must think about his legacy and save himself for the slams. As a Fedfan there should really be only two things on your mind, which is appreciation and awe. There is no room for negativity and doubt, because those aren’t qualities that Roger embodies. It disappoints me when I see certain Fedaddicts being so negative and critical. And that after Roger has pretty much achieved peRFection and given us so much over the years. There are enough critics and doubters out there. Lets leave the negativity to them, while we concentrate fully on sending Roger our positive energy. Well we have come to the end of an extremely eventful tennis season for both Roger and tennis, with only the Davis Cup final remaining now.
It’s a little sad that we won’t be seeing Roger for a while now, but he will now have the opportunity to spend Christmas with his family and get a much deserved and important break. This will allow Roger to come back next year with renewed form and confidence, and hopefully he can set right what happened this year Down Under, by winning a fourth Australian Open title. As far as my blog goes I will try to keep us going with some posts until the start of next season. If you haven’t seen Roger’s 2010 schedule you can view it HERE. Roger will start his 2010 season in Abu Dhabi which starts on new year’s day, so it’s only a months wait. Congrats on an awesome season champ!