Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kolya Fading Away

Oh, Davydenko. It seems like only yesterday you were the next big thing.

I've talked a lot about how losing to Federer at the Australian Open broke Andy Murray, and how it's in doubt now that he'll ever win a Slam, even though everyone seems convinced it'll happen. But what hasn't got a lot of air time - and has been much more pronounced than the Murray situation - is the way that Federer broke Davydenko.

We all remember the match. One and a half sets in, Kolya had points to make it a double break in the second, moving towards a two sets to love lead. And then someone flipped a switch and Roger won about twelve games in a row and it was all over, red rover - the whole Kolya adventure. All those victories that he'd scored over Federer in the last couple of months somehow became meaningless. His short lived gig as Mr Personality faded into the back of everyone's memory. And Kolya himself faded away.

The Kolya of that time, pre-quarters in Australia, would not be losing in the second round of Kuala Lumpur to Igor 'where have I been?' Andreev. That Kolya would be pretty much a dead cert for the final and no one would have stood in the way. That Kolya was a wall, capable of beating anyone, any time, any place, if he put his mind to it. Even the man that had made him his bunny, Roger Federer.

But then Federer turned a match around in a single point and that wall came crumbling down.

Davydenko is a strong enough player to come back from that defeat. One of the reasons he's been in the top ten for so long is not his game, but his consistency, which is a largely mental thing. You don't do that being weak. But since that time, we haven't seen much of Kolya. And unless he can pull himself together and do something even faintly resembling what he did in the latter part of last year, he's in danger of fading into the background permanently.

And Kolya, we don't want that. Pull yourself together. Because tennis isn't quite finished with you yet.

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