Russian Davydenko comes in from cold to make last eight

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The Independent Online

Russia's Nikolay Davydenko came in from the barren steppes and on to the main stage today.

The world number six, who has captured the media's attention with his witty sense of humour, had been slipping through the Australian Open almost unnoticed by the general public as before Monday all of his matches took place on outside show courts.

"Why (are) you guys here?" he asked reporters in a full media conference room today after he beat Fernando Verdasco 6-2 7-5 4-6 6-7 6-3 to advance to the quarter-finals.

"Why (have) you come now, (to) ask me private questions? I don't know. You need to ask yourself why you (have) come here," he replied with a huge grin across his face."

The media's new-found interest in the 28-year-old Russian, who has happily discussed his marriage, earnings and life in general this week, is undoubtedly due to the fact he had been the form player on the ATP Tour in the last three months, winning the season-ending Tour Finals in London last year.

He beat Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal again to win the Qatar Open before arriving in Melbourne Park.

Given that growing stature, and progress, organisers moved him to Rod Laver Arena today where he participated in an absorbing battle with Verdasco.

Davydenko, who had not dropped a set at Melbourne Park this year before the fourth round match with Verdasco, overcame the tiring Spaniard in the fifth to set up the quarter-final against either world number one Federer or Australia's Lleyton Hewitt.

Davydenko, who is now on a 13-match winning streak, however still feels he is an outsider for the Norman Brookes Memorial Cup, particularly if he meets Federer in the next round.

"He's number one, I'm number six. Why (would I think) I need to be favourite if I'm not number one?" he asked.

"He is always favourite for me. But on the court, I try to change my mind. I feel (if) I have then chance to win a set, and the next set, I realise (it)."

Verdasco, however, said while Davydenko was capable of winning the tournament he thought both Federer and Nadal's experience over five sets in grand slams would probably prevail.

"I think that Federer and Nadal in five sets are better than the rest," Verdasco said. "That's why they always normally win all the grand slams.

"Davydenko, Murray and the guys just behind them, I think they're not at that level. Maybe they can beat them but it's tough."