Feeling Davydenko’s pain
by Abe Kuijl | November 1st, 2007, 3:18 pm

Is Nikolay Davydenko slowly breaking down? The Russian has never been in the centre of attention because of his tennis, but after his notorious match against Vassallo Arguello in Sopot, Davydenko is being watched his every move. Last week in St. Petersburg, the Russian was fined $2000 for supposedly tanking his match against Croatian up-and-comer Marin Cilic. I can’t judge what went on during that encounter, as I haven’t been able to watch any of it, but sitting through the second set of Davydenko’s 6-2, 6-2 loss to Marcos Baghdatis has been one of the most painful experiences of 2007. ADHEREL

There is no doubt that Davydenko was giving it his best against the Cypriot. He was genuinely upset with every miss and was working hard to somehow find his rhythm. It’s just that nothing worked for the world No. 4. The most upsetting thing to see, was the way Davydenko was serving. If Elena Dementieva was watching the match, she would be shocked.

I tuned in when Baghdatis had just taken the first game of the second set, breaking Davydenko. After some uncharacteristic Davydenko misses, the Bag Man increased his lead to 2-0. But then it happened. Davydenko started serving in the third game, and he was just mistiming on every serve he hit. The Russian was merely trying to put his delivery in court, hitting about 70 – 80 mph first serves, but still double faulted three times, spraying his serves all over the place, or low into the net.

Baghdatis broke and during the changeover, chair umpire Cedric Mourier asked Davydenko if everything was alright. The Frenchman actually went so far, as to say, “if you serve like me, you’ll put it in the box.” Mourier really crossed the line though, when during the next change of ends he told Davydenko about his service: “Just hit it, you’re still the same player.” Is this the ATP’s equivalent to the WTA’s on-court coaching experiment, have the officials coach the players?

Baghdatis cruised to victory and emphatically asked Davydenko after shaking hands at the net if there was something wrong with him. The Russian said he was feeling fine, but it seems as if he is under a lot of pressure dealing with all the recent accusations on him. And who wouldn’t be.

Personally, let’s just say that I have my doubts about this whole Sopot scandal. I find it hard to believe that a world class player who makes over $1.5 million a season would risk selling a match and get caught. And I think the St. Petersburg fine doesn’t make much sense either. Why would a player, who just happens to be under strong surveillance, be fined for apparently ‘not giving his best’, but not the crowd favorite Novak Djokovic? It was blatantly obvious that Nole was tanking in Cincinnati against Moya, not to mention his ‘performance’ against Santoro this week in Paric-Bercy. Sounds an awful lot like measuring with two standards to me.

Remaining Shanghai spots still up for grabs

Meanwhile in Paris, the race to Shanghai is really going down to the wire. Current No. 7 Fernando Gonzalez lost in a highly-entertaining opening round match to Mikhail Youzhny, but is still in solid shape to clinch his Top 8 spot. Andy Murray has come out of nowhere the past few weeks and could very well go to Shanghai after all, despite missing the entire clay court season plus Wimbledon. I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing the Scot in China.

Tommy Robredo is through to the quarters, but even though the Spaniard is currently in eighth position (prior to the Haas – Youzhny match), he needs a win over Marcos Baghdatis on Friday to stay in contention. Either Gasquet or Murray, who face each other in the quarters, would overtake Robredo if he goes down to the Cypriot.

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13 Comments for Feeling Davydenko’s pain

max619 Says:

I could not agree with you more on the double standard measuring you pointed out. Novak against Santoro was just an insult to watch for the ones who paid the ticket to Bercy and not worth the time for the ones watching it on TV. And then it was the Cinci match against Moya and then one match at the Croatia tournament when he lost to countryman Viktor Troicki who is 135 in the ATP race.

jane Says:

I didn’t see the Djoko match in Paris, but if he tanked it, that’s not great. I agree that Davydenko is under too much pressure, and people asking if “everything is okay” is really kind of, er, stupid, given the accusations he’s been dealing with of late.

But both Djoko and Davy have been playing like mad all year (and Davy, for yearS!); maybe they’re truly a little worn out. I didn’t see either match, and I’m not saying it’s okay to throw a match (especially for money!), but could there not be a small grain of truth to the notion that they’re both exhausted, spent, or something of that ilk? I don’t know. Must they be chastised if they play poorly from time-to-time? If they just won a tournament, and made it to the semis of the next, is it so surprising if they lose early or badly in the next tourney? I am not weighing in on either side, but trying to be less harsh.

I hope the Scot gets to China too.

alex Says:

I really think that Davydenko is a bit worn out. However. I would not be surprised that he might have been involve somehow. Hard to say, the marriage, the big house, a lot of temptation to be richer with such a beautfiul wife. but it is a guess, no proof.

For Djoker, yes I firmly believe he tanked. He wants to be completely well rested to overtake Feddex at Shanghai. Shame on him.

Giner Says:

It’s end of season, of course he’s going to be worn out. This time last year, players like Fed would have skipped the tournament completely. At least he showed up.

fanfan Says:

If the ATP is fining people for phoning it in, i’d be worried if I was Tennis X. You guys been phoning in for a while now. How often do guys update now? every 3-4 days? every week? when you have nothing better to do?

Liz Says:

Of course it doesn’t make sense that Davydenko would throw matches and ruin his career. But maybe people get to him and threaten him and he is a victim in some way. That would explain his losing so badly now. If he’s in some kind of trouble, not of his own making, he’d be breaking down mentally and physically.

zola Says:

right on.
If Davydenko was fined for tanking ( supposedly giving in to the match-fixers?), will $2000 do anything? just ridiculus.

Double stadard it is. Djoker in Cicy, Djoker in Wimbledon and Djoker in Paris…tank, tank, tank…

I m so glad that the fans have criticized this ridiculus fine and the humiliation of the world No 4!
talk about discouragement!

Just looking at Davdenko one can tell he would be tired after 79 mattches.

I am very disappointed in ATP.

rudi Says:

Re: Witch-Hunt by ATP
The ATP wants to make an example of Davydenko because it can’t make conclusive findings on match-fixing. It also thinks it can have its way with him because he is ‘not that popular’; not having a huge fan base means no one will speak out for him, care or notice for the matter.
It is so strange that (nasty) journalists questioned the legitimacy of his ranking, as if he didn’t deserve to be where he is while officials are literally thinking he can’t lose a match to a hot Baghdatis, be mentally and emotionally worn out or tired. Both cannot be true. Davydenko has always played ABOVE his raw ability, consistently. That is why people were surprised to see him rise.
Well guess what, the ATP is damaging itself, and the SPORT; people who don’t follow tennis just continue to think they are lazy spoilt rich kids who lack principle and love for their own sport. The image perpetuated by the media is reinforced. Does anyone think they would hound a ‘star’like Djovicic, a fresh-faced cheeky boy who loves to show off his abs!. They have even been reluctant to reprimand Roddick when he goes over the top (for behaving badly, and tanking). But the latter has a different currency, which Davydenko is perceived to not have.
When will King Fed speak up to the ATP on this one? The man already gets the ‘side courts’, give him a break.

zola Says:

you are so right. but ATP got this one wrong. I have not seen many approving what ATP is doing. That ridiculus fine brought people like me ( I am not a Davydenko fan) to his side and exposed ATP even more.
The players and player council should not leave Davydenko alone.

andrea Says:

does anyone have details on the umpire’s ability to impose a fine based on ‘lack of best effort’. this seems like a totally subjective call which could hardly be determined by a third party not even playing.

(unless of course someone was wildly spraying balls everywhere and it looked obvious.)

when can they impose this fine and does a player have the chance to refute it?

John (1) Says:

Abe said: ‘Baghdatis broke and during the changeover, chair umpire Cedric Mourier asked Davydenko if everything was alright. The Frenchman actually went so far, as to say, “if you serve like me, you’ll put it in the box.” Mourier really crossed the line though, when during the next change of ends he told Davydenko about his service: “Just hit it, you’re still the same player.” Is this the ATP’s equivalent to the WTA’s on-court coaching experiment, have the officials coach the players?’

Should chair umpire Cedric Mourier be fined $2000 for on-court coaching? Or should he just be fired?

John (1) Says:

Here’s my opinion on Davydenko:

This is a guy who plays a ton of tennis each year. Probably more than any other tennis player. He’s not as big as his opponents. Most would probably say that he shouldn’t win at all on the ATP tour, but he does. Many would say that he shouldn’t be in the top five, but it’s a points system and his points get him there. He stays out of the lime light and just goes about his business. He plays hard. He practices hard. Then he wins. He loses in the first round of a tournament, which is normal for even great players, and all of a sudden he’s branded. And he’s easy to pick on since he plays under the radar. And when someone is an easy target, it’s “pile on” time for many. An umpire fines him $2000 because he’s an easy target. A second umpire now thinks he’s his coach. What’s next? I certainly don’t know. But when he’s down, like he is now, someone will be there to give him another kick, just because they can.

Ayl Says:

I’m relieved to see that there has a fair bit of support for Davydenko and his plight. To be under investigation for the betting situation is uncomfortable enough, but I can at least sort of see the reason for the ATP to declare they will be keeping an eye on going-ons of that nature – witness Murray opening his mouth about it, for instance.

But to be fined for not trying is insane. It’s *his* ranking points at stake, *his* prize money. He’s not getting anything from losing the match, right? Sigh. As andrea asked, does anyone know if he can appeal against the fine/charge?

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