Rusedski lets Davydenko off the hook

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The Independent Online

Greg Rusedski blew two match points in the deciding set as Nikolay Davydenko staged a brilliant escape act to capture the Kremlin Cup title yesterday.

Greg Rusedski blew two match points in the deciding set as Nikolay Davydenko staged a brilliant escape act to capture the Kremlin Cup title yesterday.

Competing here for only the second time, having been beaten in the first round when competing as a Canadian in 1994, the British No 2 was on the brink of victory against his Russian opponent. But with the crowd on his side, Davydenko found extra strength and pulled off a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory.

Rusedski led by a break at the start of the decider. Then, after being dragged back on to level terms, he had Davydenko in deep trouble when the Russian was serving at 5-4 down, with two break points against him. Unable to capitalise on either opportunity, Rusedski urgently needed to put in an immaculate service game to make Davydenko again serve to stay in the match, but he fell apart.

Davydenko charged to 0-40 on the Rusedski serve, and although two break points went by the wayside, the third was snaffled up and he led 6-5.

To the delight of the Muscovites, Davydenko served out for the match, to deny Rusedski the chance of a second title in 2004. Rusedski triumphed at Newport, Rhode Island, in July.

All looked to be going well when Rusedski took the opening set. He claimed a decisive break of serve in the fourth game and fended off Davydenko's bid to hit straight back.

That dampened the hopes of a home win double, Anastasia Myskina having earlier prevailed in an all-Russian women's final against Elena Dementieva.

The eighth seed Davydenko made a fine start to the second set, holding his own serve and then breaking that of Rusedski to establish early supremacy. That was the only break of the second set as Davydenko never wavered on his own serve.

Rusedski, looking to make amends for a sloppy set, darted into a 2-0 lead in the decider but then missed a break point for 3-0 and was soon hauled back to 2-2. Serves then dominated until the 10th game. Davydenko faltered, and Rusedski had two match points, to secure an £80,000 winner's cheque and a stack of world ranking points. It was not to be, however, and Rusedski was left with the consolation of £60,000 for his week's work and elevation into the top 60.

¿ Fifteen-year-old Nicole Vaidisova, of the Czech Republic, rallied to beat Virginie Razzano of France, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 yesterday and take the Tashkent Open final.

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