Nikolay Davydenko is fast becoming a player the top seeds at this year's Australian Open would want to avoid altogether in their quest for Grand Slam supremacy.
The past three months have seen the Russian become the most dominant player on the ATP circuit, winning three titles.
Victories in last year's Shanghai Masters, ATP World Tour Finals, and most recently, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open should rightfully place Davydenko as one of the top five favourites for the Australian Open.
The 28-year-old is playing inspired tennis, which has seen him overcome some major obstacles in his bid for a maiden Grand Slam title.
Beating world No.1 Roger Federer for the first time in 13 meetings at the ATP World Tour Finals last year has given Davydenko immense confidence heading into the Australian Open summer.
That confidence has allowed the world No. 6 to record his first ATP Tour victory for 2010, winning the ExxonMobil Open to solidify his status as a genuine Grand Slam contender.
He beat the world's top two players en route to his victory, including a straight sets victory over Federer in the semifinals.
Davydenko's performance against Rafael Nadal in the final was also exemplary, saving two match points before grinding out a 0-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory.
The Russian's performance was special, given he had to overcome a disastrous opening set to claim his 20th ATP title overall.
No doubt that effort will be further rewarded when the Australian Open kicks off.
With such form on the board, Davydenko should be favoured to reach, at least, the quarterfinal stage of the tournament.
Indeed, Davydenko has never passed the quarterfinal stage at the Australian Open, making the last eight on three occasions.
Although talks of a maiden Grand Slam victory are still premature, the Russian has certainly showcased enough evidence to suggest his name will still be on the lips of tennis enthusiasts well into week two of the Australian Open.
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