Nik has winning knack
Nikolay Davydenko has every chance of becoming a Grand Slam champion, says Barry Cowan.
Last Updated: 30/11/09 11:59am
After winning the biggest title of his career Nikolay Davydenko has every chance of going on to become a Grand Slam champion.
The Russian may not have the profile of some of his rivals at the ATP World Tour Finals but he's improved all aspects of his game this season and will gain an incredible amount of confidence from winning at the O2.
The perception in some parts of the world is that this victory came out of the blue but, of course, that is not the case.
Last year's World Tour Finals runner-up has found some good form in the latter half of the year and to prove it beat Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to winning last month's Shanghai Masters.
To date he has reached four Grand Slam semi-finals, losing all but one to Roger Federer. The pair met again in the last four on Saturday but this time the World No 1 found himself up a very different player.
Going into the match Federer held a 12-0 record over Davydenko, partly because of his ability to mix up the pace of his game and use his slice very intelligently.
However, in the last 12 months Davydenko has improved his own slice and volley considerably and turned his serve into more of a weapon; indeed, it's hard to believe that two years ago he was suffering from the yips.
This time his attacking style and pace was too much for Federer and at times he overpowered his opponent from the back of the court which was quite incredible.
At first glance Davydenko may not appear instantly marketable but I feel the ATP now have a duty to get the message across that he is a very, very exciting player to watch.
The 28-year-old is a deserving champion because he managed to play at a high level throughout the week. Even though he lost his first match to Djokovic, he still played extremely well and he took that form into the final against Juan Martin del Potro.
I interviewed both players before the match and felt straight away that Davydenko was ready but his opponent wasn't. The Argentinean looked a little tired and was feeling the effects of his late finish against Robin Soderling the night before in what was a fantastic match.
He looked as though he was half a yard off the pace in the early stages and with Davydenko in the form he was, that made life very difficult.
The schedule clearly did Del Potro no favours and if the ATP intends to hold both semi-finals on the penultimate day of next year's World Tour Finals, they should really consider staging the final on the evening of the last to give both players more time to recover.
Del Potro had little left in the tank ahead of Sunday's showdown, which wasn't a surprise given that he probably didn't get to sleep until the small hours after his hard-fought victory over Robin Soderling.
His subsequent straight sets defeat should not detract from what was an impressive week for him, though. I didn't think he would reach such a high level until next season.
He's definitely the player to watch going into 2010. Right now if you are looking for someone with the potential to be world No 1 then he would definitely be there.
Next year should also be a landmark year for Bob and Mike Bryan after they won their third season-ending championship crown.
Their victory over Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram was sweet revenge for the defeat they suffered to the pair in the group stages and also swelled their haul of career titles to 56 - five behind the record held by Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.
At 31 years of age they are both still moving very well and bring such an energy and presence to the court that they are very difficult to beat. Breaking that record must be a question of when, not if.