x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Davydenko gets a lucky break

The world No 6 thought he had fractured his wrist and almost pulled out of Dubai but win over Serra puts the Russian in the second round.

Nikolay Davydenko plays through the pain last night as he beats France's Florent Serra during the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Nikolay Davydenko plays through the pain last night as he beats France's Florent Serra during the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

DUBAI // Nikolay Davydenko, the world No 6, last night disclosed that he came within a doctor's shake of the head to adding his name to the alarmingly long list of withdrawals from the Dubai Tennis Championship. The Russian fell badly on the way to a semi-final defeat by Sweden's Robin Soderling in Rotterdam two weeks ago and was convinced his left wrist was broken.

"It was really painful and badly swollen and I couldn't touch anything for three days," said Davydenko after making a winning start to his sixth attempt to take the honours at the Aviation Club by beating France's Florent Serra 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 in a first-round match he was frequently in danger of losing. "I didn't know whether I would be able to play here," added Davydenko. "That's why I asked for a Tuesday start. I was scared to practise at first. I didn't have any preparation for this tournament.

"It's still painful but starting to feel a little better and I'm hopeful of continuing here and then playing in the Davis Cup [against India in Moscow]." Having got over the starting line for the 32-man event - unlike four others from the world's top seven, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Roddick - Davydenko has his sights on a Middle East double, having beaten Federer and Nadal on the way to the Doha title last month. That was his 20th career success, swiftly following his crowning glory by triumphing in last season's ATP Tour finals in London and he is confident of moving a step closer to his 21st today when he takes on Germany's Michael Berrer, who beat Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky yesterday.

Davydenko's passage into the second round assignment was a troublesome one and Serra, ranked 59 in the world, will regret not taking a couple of tantalising opportunities to close out their fluctuating encounter in straight sets. The pivotal moment was the ninth game of the second set when Serra, who has two career titles to his credit, held two break points which would have enabled him to serve out for the match.

Serra missed them both; he was then broken for the first time in the match in the ensuing game and crumbled as a relieved Davydenko rattled off the next five games to move to the brink of victory. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae