It seems strange to label the world number 4 player as being underrated but this is exactly the case with Nikolay Davydenko. Davydenko displayed a level of tennis at the Sony Ericsson Open final I have not seen in a while to beat Rafael Nadal. My only question is why do we not see this type of performance on a more consistent basis?
At the start of this tournament, I was 100 percent sure nobody would have chosen Davydenko to take his first title of the year. He finally justified his ranking after many people, including myself, were wondering how and why he managed to reach a high world ranking.
It seems he is trying his best to put the betting scandal, which has cast a dark cloud over his career, firmly behind him.
I tipped Nadal to win in a three set thriller considering the Russian’s poor record against the top three players. However this was not the case as Davydenko dominated the Spaniard in all areas of the match. His serving, groundstrokes and movement were near perfect and you could have written a text book on his performance as he ran Nadal around and eventually off the court.
Davydenko is without doubt, in my opinion, the least popular player in the top 10 and this picture of him on the practice court proves he is not much of a draw for spectators compared with others near him in the rankings.
I’m sure though after winning in Miami, ‘Davy’ will hope to win over a few more fans because clearly after a showing like this he deserves them.
Why does Davydenko not attract such as following as his other top ten associates?
One crazy theory that I have come across attempting to explain asserts that not having hair affects his popularity! This is of course is rubbish. After all, baldness did not harm Andre Agassi’s popularity.
More realistically, obviously the betting scandal did not help his case. Nonetheless, I feel the main reason for his lack of fan base is that he does not possess a big personality – especially when compared to the arrogant Andy Roddick and the entertaining Novak Djokovic.
The bottom line is that Davydenko is an extremely hard working pro and does not crave the spot light as others do. A lot of fuss is made when he loses a match he is expected to win but this happens to all players.
When a global approach is taken in assessing Davydenko, it becomes apparent he is not the fourth best player in the world for nothing.
This is why I will certainly be taking more notice of this gifted player in the future.
(photos Matt Whitfield for Tennis Served Fresh)