Rafael Nadal’s ills and ailments finally caught up to him on Friday when Nikolay Dayvdenko pounded the Spaniard 6-2, 6-3 in Doha. The win moves Davydenko into the finals where he’ll face Roger Federer who was a 6-3, 7-6 victor over JW Tsonga.
Nadal’s been complaining of a flu all week in Doha, although I have to ask at least why the heck was he still playing doubles – which he won today – with the flu?
“This week I had this problem, and every day I had troubles. Every day was difficult moments on court,” said Nadal. “Finally I lost against a better player than me today, so that’s all. [I will] keep practicing, get healthy, and try my best in the next tournament. Nothing to say today about the match, because he played much better than me, so I wasn’t ready to play at that high rhythm today.”
Illness or not, Davydenko has always been a tough opponent for Rafa. The Russian’s win gives him a 6-4 lead over Nadal in their head-to-head with four straight wins now. He’s also 6-1 against Rafa on the hardcourts. Simply said, he matches up about as well as anyone against Rafa.
Now, to defend his 2010 Doha crown, Davydenko will again have to beat Federer and Nadal in the same tournament like he did last year (Federer in the SF, Nadal in final).
“I always play semis or quarters [against Federer], but the final I play always against Nadal,” Davydenko said. “That was for me much easier to win. I don’t know why. Now it’s [a] different situation. I think it will be much tougher.”
And he’s right. This will be tougher because he’s playing Fed in a final. Federer is 14-2 against Davydenko and I think tomorrow he’ll extend that to 15-2.
“Obviously I’m very excited. It’s always nice to start off the year with a final,” said Federer. “I think Nikolay actually has a very good record in finals, and that makes him tough to play in a final. I feel well and I’ll definitely have a chance with all my experience and the level I’m playing at right now.”
True, Davydenko is a gaudy 20-5 in ATP finals, but the 14-2 record H2H is really hard to get past. And since going up that set and break against Federer in Melbourne last year – when it looked like Federer was on the way out! – Fed’s reeled off five straight sets against Nikolay. And that has to be swirling around the Russian’s head tonight.
Davydenko’s always had some issues with his nerves. Even today he served for the match at 5-0 in the second but then dropped two straight games and saved a break point in the third one before closing out the match.
That said, Fed will be in his head.
And while we are not getting a Federer-Nadal final this weekend it looks like we’ll see an Andy Roddick-Robin Soderling collision in Brisbane. Tomorrow, er tonight depending on where you are, Roddick will be the heavy favorite against another big server Kevin Anderson. Soderling has 2010 runner-up Radek Stepanek. I expect both top guys to win out.
In Chennai, the semifinals are set tomorrow with Tomas Berdych v. Stan Wawrinka and Janko Tipsarevic v. Xavier Malisse. For Berydch, a convincing title run in Chennai is just what the doctor ordered!
DOHA SATURDAY SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 6:00 pm
 N Davydenko (RUS) vs  R Federer (SUI)
BRISBANE SATURDAY SCHEDULE
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 12:00 noon
 R Lindstedt (SWE) / H Tecau (ROU) vs P Petzschner (GER) / A Peya (AUT)
 R Soderling (SWE) vs R Stepanek (CZE)
K Anderson (RSA) vs  A Roddick (USA)
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