Nikolay Davydenko, the Russian at the centre of an investigation into illegal betting, was told by the umpire here yesterday to "serve like me" as 10 double-faults contributed to his 6-2, 6-2 defeat by Marcos Baghdatis in the third round of the Paris Masters. The umpire also instructed Davydenko, who was fined last week for lack of effort in a match in St Petersburg, to "try your best".
The world No 4 insisted an elbow injury is affecting his serve, though the growing pressures on him since the betting controversy erupted in the summer also appear to be taking their toll psychologically. He cried last week after being warned for not trying and said yesterday that his problems were both mental and physical.
Davydenko played poorly throughout his 73-minute defeat by Baghdatis, the world No 22. He struggled particularly on serve and was broken five times. The bizarre exchange with Cedric Mourier, the umpire, occurred during the changeover at 3-0 in the second set. "You serve like me," Mourier told Davydenko, whose English is poor. "If you serve like me, you put it in the box. That's it."
The conversation continued. Davydenko: "Call supervisor. Ask him about it."
Umpire: "That's the coach you should ask."
Davydenko: "I ask him. I want to kill him... Normally I cannot give up for match for good reason just because I cannot serve. How many double-faults?"
Umpire: "I don't know. I can tell you at the end of the match but too many."
Davydenko: "What can I do?"
Umpire: "Try your best."
ATP supervisors later examined tapes of the match, but said that no action would be taken. Davydenko blamed a continuing elbow problem. He said it did not cause him pain and affected only his serve.