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Davydenko has parting shot for beaten Verdasco


 

Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:53

Who is this man, and what has he done with Nikolay Davydenko? Since the Russian clinched the World Tour Finals back in November, he has been a revelation – both on and off court.

In his surreal pressers, the self-professed ‘scariest’ man in the draw asks more questions than the reporters in his charmingly broken English, and is suddenly the most quotable man in Melbourne.

Back on court, he continues to demonstrate just how scared the opposition should be. Davydenko has now notched up fourteen straight wins since the ATP World Tour Finals,

Monday’s victim was Fernando Verdasco, last year’s semi-finalist, who tested the No.6 seed’s five-set resolve to no avail in a 6-2 7-5 4-6 6-7(5) 6-3 fourth-round defeat.

And the super-confident Davydenko had one last volley to fire at the Spaniard after the match.

Asked how he overcame one of the game’s fittest players, the Russian – who as recently as last November admitted he was not geared up for five-set matches – said: “He’s strong physically, but not mentally.

“For sure he was strong,” he added. “For sure he can play five, six, sets. But concentration you can’t holding all five sets the same. That’s was I know he have power in the fifth set, but he can make mistakes.”

Next up for Davydenko is Roger Federer – twice beaten during the Russian’s current hot streak, but surely a different prospect at a major.

Despite the match’s blockbuster billing in Australia, as expected the tournament top seed made light work of Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets, extending his unbeaten run against the former world No.1 to 15 matches.

Nevertheless, Federer was gracious in victory, admitting that whatever the scoreline may read – and 6-2 6-3 6-4 read pretty well – his matches with the Australian are never easy.

“I already saw the draw and saw Lleyton floating around, it’s not something I like seeing,” said the fifteen-time Grand Slam champion. “I always knew it would be extremely hard. It was – I’m sweating bullets!

“He’s a great competitor, it’s always a pleasure playing him,” added Federer. “He’s playing really good again, I hope he can keep it up.”

And the world No.1 is relishing the chance to settle the score with Davydenko in the last eight,

“He played very well the last couple of times we played,” admitted Federer. “We had a tough one here in 2005.

“He has definitely picked up his game, he used to have issues on serve, those are gone. I hope in a best of five match, I can get the better of him.”

In the other quarter, Novak Djokovic fought off a last-set fightback from Lukasz Kubot on Monday to advance

The Serb notched up 11 aces and 37 winners as he beat Kubot 6-1 6-2 7-5, and while he expressed his respect for his Polish opponent, the world No.3 knows the real tests now lie ahead – starting with a rerun of the 2008 final in the next round against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

“I’m aware the matches will get more difficult throughout this week,” said the Serb. “So I’m ready for it.”

Tsonga suffered a mid-match slump during his fourth round encounter with Nicolas Almagro before recovering to clinch a 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-7(6) 9-7 victory.

The Frenchman sealed the first two sets with a single break in each, but a double fault when serving to save his first break point of the match at 4-5 gifted the Spaniard a way back into the match.

Two wild unforced in the fourth set tiebreak allowed Almagro to level up and pile the pressure on the No.10 seed, before Tsonga, serving first in the decider, turned the tables on his opponent as he served to stay in the match, eventually succumbing at the third time of asking.

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