Rafael Nadal loses the title to Nikolai Davydenko

The Masters 1000 series suffered its first significant changes in years in 2009. Hamburg lost its top spot, and Madrid moved from a tough indoor event to a spring and mud schedule. Organized in the beautiful Qizhong Tennis Center Shanghai, the Masters 1000 became penultimate on the calendar and was an instant success.

the world does not. 1 Roger Federer and the world no. 3 Andy Murray decided to skip the opening Shanghai event. However, the other ten players were there to fight for the title, with five of them reaching the quarter-finals. Top seed Rafael Nadal had to win two full matches to reach the final, with Ivan Ljubicic and Feliciano Lopez retiring against him in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Nikolai Davydenko stood as the last contender between Rafa and the title. The Russian beat Novak Djokovic over three hours later in the semi-final, to seal the tiebreak 7-1 in the Masters 1000 final.

Davydenko won the previous two title matches at this level. He maintained the perfect score after toppling the Spaniard 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and three minutes, becoming the first champion in Shanghai. It was their seventh and fifth meeting at the level of the 1000 Masters.

Nikolai scored his third victory over Rafa, and prevented the Spaniard from winning the title he lost in his group, as happened in Miami 2008. Davydenko won by 11 points over Nadal and played better in the first and second serve.

Threw the aggression that kept the rally on his racket and reduced Rafa to less than ten winners! The Russian was one of the rare players who could outsmart Rafa in extended base exchanges. He showed it again in this showdown, as he dominated the most intense rallies while staying connected in the shortest to ensure success-to-group victory.

Nikolai Davydenko defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Shanghai 2009.

Nadal did his best to cross the finish line first. He did an excellent job saving five out of seven break points and reaching the tiebreaker in the opening set.

However, the Spaniard stole Davydenko’s serve only once out of four to ply his own chances. Nikolai found the range right from the start and made three break points in the third with his trademark winning backhand.

Turn the third goal with a winning forehand with an aerial shot to draw first blood and lead 2-1. Another forehand win sent him a 3-1 lead, and Nadal responded with great consistency in the next match, hitting a winner on the serve to send him home in love.

The Russian was on a different level in the first part of the engagement. He dominated and created two points for an extra break in game seven that could have pushed him further forward. Rafa kept his focus and won the next four points to fend off the menace and cut the difference to 4-3 with a much-needed winning serve.

The Spaniard has hit only 6% of the balls from inside the field until that point, unable to impose his strikes and change the tempo. On the other hand, this figure was at 37% in the case of Davydenko, where the Russian grabbed the ball early.

Nadal had to do something more to come back and fast. He broke in the eighth game when Davydenko sent a long forehand and stopped in the next game with a powerful shot to bounce back forward. Momentum was in Nadal’s favor now, as he picked up a set point in the 10th game.

Nikolai denied this with a crushing goal and held on after Rafa’s forehand error to equalize the score 5-5. The set went into a tiebreaker after smashing Davydenko in Match 12, and had the upper hand, making three set points at 6-3 after Nadal’s loose forehand.

The Russian dominated the next rally, using the opponent’s first short ball to attack and closing the set with a backhand kick after 75 minutes of an uphill battle. Nadal’s backhand was under constant pressure, with Davydenko landing 90% of his returns to his opponent’s right wing in the opening set, hoping to achieve more of the same in the rest of the match.

However, Rafa had the opportunity to take the first hit in the second set, creating a break opportunity but missed it after a weak comeback. Nikolai held on after another serve winner, and we can see that he was even more ferocious, hitting more than half of the balls from inside the field in rallies!

Rafa broke in the 15th minute in the sixth game after he fouled the Spaniard’s backhand and went 5-2 ahead after a superb backhand on cross. Serving for the 5-3 victory, Nikolai relegated three winners to take the title, defeating Rafa and becoming a deserving champion of the inaugural Shanghai Masters.

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