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Page last updated at 22:48 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Nikolay Davydenko wins to knock out Rafael Nadal

World number two Rafael Nadal
Nadal could not find his top form at the O2 Arena

By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at the O2 Arena

World number two Rafael Nadal's title hopes ended with a 6-1 7-6 (7-4) defeat by Nikolay Davydenko which knocked him out of the ATP World Tour Finals.

The six-times Grand Slam champion looked like he might go out with a whimper when he was blown away by an inspired Davydenko in the opening set.

But he showed all his famous fighting spirit in a gripping second set, twice recovering from a break down against a nervy opponent to take it to a tie-break.

However, Davydenko came through in the end, sealing victory with a rasping forehand after one hour and 47 minutes.

The result leaves Nadal without a set after two matches, and means he will fail to reach the semi-finals for the first time in his three appearances at the season-ending tournament.

"That's sport," said a philosophical Nadal. "I didn't arrive with the confidence you need to win these matches.

"In the moments I had to play well, I didn't play well. I made mistakes. I fought a lot in both matches, tried my best, had a positive attitude, but it wasn't enough.

"But like I said, that's sport. You have some better moments, some bad moments. When you have the bad moments, you have to work to improve."

Davydenko could join Soderling in the last four if he beats the Swede on Friday, leaving Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who meet in the other match, to lick their wounds.

"I'm not so happy," said Davydenko after beating Nadal for the fourth time in his career. "It's a round-robin, it's not like I've won the tournament.

"I showed my best tennis today, and we'll see if I can do the same thing on Friday."

He added: "I have a little bit of an injury from my first match. I was starting to have pain in the second set because we were running every point, so it was good to finish it in the tie-break."

Nadal admitted after his opening defeat by Soderling that his confidence was low, and it showed again on Wednesday as he struggled with his timing throughout.

Davydenko, though, was exceptional in the first set, despite the majority of a lively crowd lending their support to the former Wimbledon champion.


Having recovered from deuce in his opening service game, the world number seven raced into a 3-0 lead, dominating the rallies from the back of the court and showing some sublime touch at the net.

Nadal shook his head disconsolately when a double fault helped Davydenko break for the second time and the Russian ended the set as he had begun it - with an ace.

The crowd, while still willing Nadal on, could not fail to be impressed by Davydenko's bold attack.

The Russian continued to dominate in the early stages of the second set, and looked set for a routine win when he broke for a 3-2 lead.

Davydenko, though, faltered dramatically as the prospect of a shock victory loomed larger, and Nadal's unrivalled will to win came to the fore.

With the Russian's forehand fading, Nadal earned four chances to break back - and took a fifth when Davydenko went long, the world number two crouching to his knees to celebrate and pumping his fist repeatedly.

The momentum appeared to have shifted decisively when, with Davydenko toiling, the Spaniard took a 5-4 lead, but the doubts that have plagued his game in recent weeks returned.

He produced a final flourish when he broke back for a second time to force a tie-break, but he could find no further inspiration, Davydenko claiming it and sending the Spaniard out.

In the doubles, second seeds Bob and Mike Bryan got their campaign back on track with a 6-3 6-4 win over Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes.

The American pair lost their opening match against Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram, but were always in control against the Czech/Indian duo.

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see also
Nadal v Davydenko as it happened
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray suffers Tour Finals exit
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
In-form Soderling beats Djokovic
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Djokovic v Soderling as it happened
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Federer enjoys return to top spot
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Federer prevails against Murray
24 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Djokovic edges past Davydenko
23 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Soderling stuns Nadal in London
23 Nov 09 |  Tennis
ATP Finals photos
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis

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