Juan Martin Del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko Send Warnings
Who profit from the clay court king absence last week?
No big headline when we learn that Novak Djokovic has claimed his fifth title of the season at his Belgrade home tournament, improving to a 27-0 start on the season. Nobody in the draw could have troubled the World No. 2 and it was almost a done deal before the tournament started.
However, victories from Juan Martin Del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko are worth taking the time to analyse.
The Argentine won in Estoril after crushing Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2, while the Russian renewed with success in Munich defeating local favorite Florian Mayer 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
They were very important victories when you consider both players have struggled for most of the 2010 season.
Is it a coincidence? Both suffered from a wrist injury, which is one of the worst one a professional tennis player can have.
Whatever the level you might compete at, it is always tough to come back to winning ways after undergoing surgeries—you almost have to come back from scratch.
Of course, the 2009 US Open Champion is taller than the 2009 Masters Champion, but both take the ball early and like to win rallies after two, or three stokes. They both go for winners, even if it means having more risks at making errors.
The Tandil residence already won in Delray Beach earlier in March and just won his second on clay, which is huge.
It is even more relevant if you analyse the Estoril draw as he knocked out very good clay court players like Robin Söderling, a two-time French Open runner-up, Pablo Cuevas in two days due to rain, and Fernando Verdasco in the final.
I did not expect Del Potro to be that good after playing only his second clay court tournament in over two years.
It is also worth analysing the following statistics : Del Potro won 23 of his last 26 matches played, which is amazing.
Elsewhere, the Argentine could be found in the 485 spot in the ATP standings at the start of the season and is already assured to return to a top 30 position after winning in Portugal, which means he will be seeded at Roland Garros.
This will be welcome news for the ones who feared to meet him in the first, or second round.
Meanwhile, Nikolay Davydenko was ranked number 42nd at the beginning of last week.
The Russian has a lot of similarities with Andre Agassi's game when he had a table tennis style of play. When Davydenko is missing the lines by even a whisker it will affect his whole game.
Nevertheless, when the Russian is on a good day and accumulating winners, then he can beat anybody.
Davydenko is one of the very few players to have a favorable head-to-head record against Rafael Nadal.
The former World number 3 started the season claiming the title in Doha, Qatar, beating Rafael Nadal in the final.
Then the 29-year-old started to have his desert run with 9 successive loss in the opening round until the one in Munich last week where all of a sudden he found his A-game back against his compatriot Andrey Kuznetsov.
Then he went on with success over third seed Marin Cilic and the crafty Radek Stepanek before defeating Florian Mayer in the Championship match.
Will Davydenko victory in Munich indicate his return to the top ten field?
Approaching his 30th birthday, the Russian can no longer afford to have consecutive losses.
Nevertheless he still enjoys playing the Masters 1000 and the Majors.
Therefore, his appetite for tennis will shrink when his ranking will no longer allow him to enter the main draws of the Masters 1000.
Davydenko is also like the Williams sisters. You never know when and where he is going to strike next.
He can lose in the first round of Madrid to Spain's Marcel Granollers and he can also beat top five players like Djokovic, or Nadal.
Consequently, nobody likes to meet him.
The latest news from Madrid show a potential matchup between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro for the third round and another one featuring Nikolay Davydenko and last year's French Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych.
We won't have to wait much longer to see if Del Potro and Davydenko can target more than small atp events as Roland Garros is only three weeks away.
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