Nikolay Davydenko became the first Russian to win the Sony Ericsson Open men's title when he hammered Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-2 in last night's final here.
The title was Davydenko's first this year while playing under the cloud of an ATP investigation into heavy betting on a match he lost last August at a tournament in Poland. He retired in the third set, citing a foot injury, and says he did nothing wrong. He has accused the ATP of dragging out the investigation.
There was no question about his effort against Nadal. Davydenko broke to love to take the lead 4-3 in the first set, and in the second set he lost only two of 19 points on his serve. When the No 4 seed Davydenko belted one final forehand winner on championship point, he punched the air. During the trophy ceremony, he said he did not believe he had won. "For me it's surprising," he said. "It's crazy."
Davydenko changed racket types before the tournament and used the same racket in all six matches. "I have only one racket," he said. "Surprisingly I didn't break a string. Warm up and play match, warm up and play match and I finish with the racket. I'm going to keep this racket forever."
Hitting serves at up to 132 mph, Davydenko won five service games to love. He hit 19 winners and had only 12 unforced errors, and his groundstrokes to the corners repeatedly made Nadal hit shots late and wide. "He's playing unbelievable tennis," Nadal said. "I can't play better today, because he played at an unbelievable level."