x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Davydenko gets his medicine

Nikolay Davydenko attributes his preliminary round exit at the Capitala World Tennis Championship to a lack of concentration and a recent bout of bronchitis.

ABU DHABI // Nikolay Davydenko attributed yesterday's preliminary round exit at the Capitala World Tennis Championship to a lack of concentration and a recent bout of bronchitis. The world No 6 crashed out after Spaniard David Ferrer showed dogged determination at Zayed Sports City to battle back from two games down in the final set to finish the tournament's opening match 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

The victory sets up an all-Spanish clash, with Ferrer facing Davis Cup teammate Rafael Nadal in today's semi-final. Nadal, the world No 2, received a bye to the final four. Davydenko overcame a sluggish start to grow in confidence, convincingly winning the opening set with a series of strong serves and formidable forehands. But Ferrer forced his Russian opponent into mistakes in the second and other than a double-fault in the penultimate game, the Spaniard never looked like losing.

But it was the crucial third set that will provide Davydenko with food for thought ahead of next week's Qatar Open. The ATP World Tour Finals winner broke Ferrer in the fifth and, following an epic sixth, found himself in a comfortable 4-2 lead. But with victory in touching distance, the 28-year-old faltered, allowing world No 17 Ferrer to fight back and overpower his ailing opponent. "I did not play bad," said Davydenko. "But I did not play good either. I made too many mistakes. In the third set, I thought I had won but lost my concentration. I thought 'I am playing well, now I can play like Federer does'. But after a few mistakes I realised 'OK, I'm not Federer anymore'. He started to give me trouble, I started losing my serve and then I lost my confidence.

"Also, the problem for me was that I started to feel sick. I was in the hospital on Wednesday with bronchitis and have been on antibiotics since. On Wednesday I could not have even hit a ball, but yesterday I felt a lot better and thought I could play three sets. The antibiotics take five days, so hopefully I will be OK for Doha next week." Ferrer, who failed to win a title on Tour last season and lost to Davydenko in the semi-finals of the Hamburg Open in July, says that while victory over a top-10 ranked player on his Abu Dhabi debut is great, he is not reading too much into the result.

"This match is just one match," said the 27-year-old. "Next week I will be at another tournament and for now it just a case of working every day and becoming more focused every game." With compatriot Nadal waiting in the wings this evening, Ferrer knows he will need to be at his best if he is to progress to the final. "To beat Rafa will be a tough fight. I will need to play very aggressive and win points at the net, but it will not be easy," he added. "He is the best player in Spain and one of the best in the world - but I always want to beat the best." gmeenaghan@thenational.ae