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Davydenko beats jaded Nadal for Shanghai title

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:48

Nikolay Davydenko produced an inspired performance to beat world No.2 Rafael Nadal 7-6(3) 6-3 to become the first Shanghai Masters 1000 champion and secure a top-eight ranking spot as the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals draw closer.

The players traded breaks early in the match but were inseparable after twelve games, before the No.6 seed took control of the tiebreak, crunching three stunning backhand winners.

By that stage Nadal was visibly flagging despite benefiting from walkovers in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals, appearing half a step off the pace as Davydenko took advantage.

The Russian had to save a break point in game five of the second set, but responded by holding and racing to a 0-40 lead on Nadal’s serve. The Spaniard sprayed a backhand wide, and Davydenko held to move within a game of the title.

Nadal held serve to force the Russian to serve the match out, which he duly did when Nadal saw a HawkEye challenge on match point confirm his forehand had landed centimetres long.

Davydenko, who has now won three of his last five matches against Nadal, admitted afterwards that he struggled to stay positive in the first set as Saturday’s three-hour semi-final win over Novak Djokovic began to take its toll.

“I was so tired at the beginning in the first set. At 4-4 I was thinking I have no chance to win,” admitted the Russian. “I cannot believe it. I’m enjoying this. Beating Djokovic and Nadal is something amazing.”

The victory will move Davydenko into the qualifying spots for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Monday, but as he stated earlier in the week, the Russian is happy to go with the flow.

“I’ll enjoy this week,” added the Russian, who faces the daunting task of playing retiring compatriot Marat Safin in the first round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow next week.

“I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen tomorrow or in the next tournament.”

Nadal, who lost his previous final appearance in May to Roger Federer in Madrid, had to admit he was beaten by the better man on the day.

“He played better than me today,” said the Spaniard. “But that’s tennis. I will certainly be back next year to try and win here.”

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