Nikolay Vladimirovich Davydenko (born June 2, 1981 in Severodonetsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union) is currently the top ranked Russian male tennis player, fourth in the world, and the winner of eleven ATP singles titles.
Davydenko's best result in a Grand Slam tournament has been reaching the semi-finals, which he did at the 2005 French Open, 2006 US Open, 2007 French Open and the 2007 US Open.
Davydenko was born on June 2, 1981, in Severodonetsk, Ukraine to Vladimir and Tatyana. At the age of 11, Nikolay left his parents in Ukraine to live with his elder brother Eduard in Volgograd, Russia in the belief that Russia would afford more opportunities to become a professional tennis player.
Years later, Davydenko explained his peripatetic youth, "I stayed 4 years in Russia. Eduard worked as a tennis coach for kids and we practiced together. He pushed me pretty hard. At 15 we left for Germany. A Russian who lived there convinced Eduard it would be better for me. In Europe I could play more tournaments and earn more money than in Russia."
Davydenko was granted Russian citizenship in 1999, at the age of 18 and has represented Russia ever since. Before the Davis Cup in 2006, Davydenko married his girlfriend and traveling companion of three years, named Irina. He currently resides in Volgograd, Russia.
Davydenko started playing at age 7 with his brother, Eduard who also turned professional as well. During his junior tennis years, he moved to Salmtal, Germany with his brother to further develop his tennis abilities and to play in more tournaments.
Davydenko turned professional in 1999. In 2000, he played mainly on the Futures Tour where he captured one title and reached three finals. He made his ATP debut at Amsterdam, reaching the semi-final. Later in August, he won his first Challenger title in Monchengladbach.
In 2001, Davydenko made his Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open, where he made it to the 2nd round before losing to former World No. 1, Patrick Rafter in 4 sets. This performance captured the public eye of his talent and ability. Later in February, he injured his lower back in Dallas and subsequently was out for six weeks. After the injury, he came back to win two Challenger titles in Ulm and Istanbul. He finished the season with a quarter-final in Basel.
In 2002, Davydenko continued to play on both the ATP Tour and Challenger events. It was a steady year with quarter-final appearances in Bastad and Vienna. During the year he captured his fourth Challenger title in Szczecin.
Davydenko made huge strides on the ATP Tour in 2003. He opened the season with his first ATP title in Adelaide defeating Kristof Vliegen in the final. A few month later, he captured his second tour title in Estoril on clay beating Agustin Calleri. His season was backed up with solid performances on clay in Barcelona and St. Pölten, reaching the quarter final and final respectively. After a solid year, Davydenko finished in the top 50 for the first time in his career.
His progress continued in 2004, capturing two more titles for the second consecutive year. After a slow start to season, a quarter final in the Monte Carlo Masters kicked off a 10-2 matches run. A week later he won in Munich for his third title. Backed up his win by reaching the semi-final in Stuttgart losing to Guillermo Cañas. In October, he captured his first home soil victory in Moscow by winning both the singles and doubles (partnering Igor Andreev). Finished the season in the top 30 for the first time.
In 2005, began the season by reaching the quarter-final for the first time in a Grand Slam at the Australian Open. During the clay season, captured his fifth career title in St. Pölten beating home favourite, Jurgen Melzer. Continued his solid form by reaching the semi-finals of Hamburg Masters and his first Grand Slam at the French Open. There was a controversy after the French Open because he lost to Mariano Puerta in 5 close sets 3-6 7-5 6-2 4-6 4-6, who was later caught and banned for doping. He reached the top 10 for the first time after the French Open. Closed out the year by reaching the quarter-finals at the Cincinnati Masters and the Paris Masters. After a great season, allowed him to qualified Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai for the first time and reached the semi-finals losing to David Nalbandian. Finished the year as the No. 1 Russian and world No. 5.
After his rapid rise into the top 5 in 2005, Davydenko continued to stay in the top 5 for 2006. Repeated his quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open, losing to Roger Federer in 4 tight sets, 4-6 6-3 6-7(7) 6-7(5). He had another solid clay court season, reaching the final in Estoril and quarter final at the TMS Hamburg. Defended his title in Pöertschach and reached the quarter-final at the French Open for the second year. His form continued after an early loss at Wimbledon with wins in Sopot and his first American soil win in New Haven. After the win on the hardcourt season, he reached his second Grand Slam semi-final at the U.S. Open, losing to Roger Federer. Finished the season with a win in Moscow and his first career TMS title in Paris. After getting married, Davydenko helped Russia win the Davis Cup against Argentina. Reached a career high ranking of No. 3 which he finished on for the year.
Davydenko started 2007 started with another quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open for the third consecutive year. He was slow to find his form on clay court season; but found his form at the Rome Masters, losing in the semi-final to the "King of Clay", Rafael Nadal in an enthralling match 6-7, 7-6, 4-6. His good form continued, and he reached semi-final for the second time at the French Open, losing to Roger Federer again 5-7, 6-7, 6-7. At Wimbledon, he surprised the tennis world by reaching the 4th round on his least preferred surface. Moving to the hard court season in the US, Davydenko had strong showings in Canada Masters and Cincinnati Masters, reaching the quarter-final and semi-final respectively. After a good hard court preparation, Davydenko reached the semi-final of the U.S. Open for the second consecutive year before losing to Roger Federer 5-7, 1-6, 5-7.
Davydenko started 2008 at the Australian Open where he was seeded fourth. He won his first three matches in straight sets, but in the fourth round he lost to countryman Mikhail Youzhny 7–6, 6–3, 6–1. In Dubai, he reached the semi-finals, losing to Feliciano López in three sets. He then went on to win his biggest career title to date at the Miami Masters. On the route to the win he defeated Andy Roddick in the semi-final and Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-2 in the final to win his second ATP Masters Series title. His win over Roddick in the semi-final was his first victory over the American in six attempts while his win over Nadal was his first in three attempts.
Davydenko began the European clay court season with a final appearance in his next tournament, the Estoril Open in Portugal, where he met world number 1, Roger Federer in the final. In the second set of the final, while trailing Federer, 7–6(5), 2–1, Davydenko retired hurt with a left leg injury. He then reached the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters. He won his thirteenth career title in Pöertschach defeating Juan Mónaco 6–2, 2–6, 6–2. After a disappointing French Open, Davydenko went on to win another title, this time in Warsaw, defeating Tommy Robredo 6–3, 6–3 in the final. After this, did not win back-to-back matches until the next Grand Slam, the US Open. There, he lost in the fourth round to qualifier Gilles Müller 6–4, 4–6, 6–3, 7–6(10), breaking his streak of two straight semis at the Open.
In the 2008 Paris Masters semi-final, he lost to David Nalbandian 6–1, 5–7, 6–4. At his final event of the season, the Tennis Masters Cup, Davydenko finished runner-up. He beat Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round robin matches to progress to the semifinals, where he faced Andy Murray. He beat Murray 7–5, 6–2 to reach the Masters Cup final for the first time in his career, where he met Novak Djokovic, having already played him in the round-robin stage, and lost 7–6, 0–6, 7–5. Djokovic defeated him again, on the score of 6–1, 7–5.
Davydenko employs an aggressive baseline game although he is capable of playing an all-round game. His main strengths are his groundstrokes, foot speed, balance and return game. His groundstrokes are technically sound on both forehand and backhand, he hits the ball extremely early which creates great power, depth and consistency resembling former World No. 1 Andre Agassi. Davydenko's best shot is his backhand which he can hit down the line, cross court and with extreme angles. He is best known in the tennis world for his running shots which he takes early and often turn into winners. Though he is not tall, Davydenko has a very effective serve which he can hit with high pace when he wants to. On tour, Davydenko is considered one of the cleanest ballstrikers.
Davydenko's main weaknesses are his inability to close matches, volleys and variation. He has lost numerous important matches after taking a lead. This was evident during the 2006 Tennis Masters Cup against James Blake and Rafael Nadal where he won the first sets and had leads in the second but lost. Again, his inability to close matches against top players out was shown against Federer at the Australian Open in 2006 and the French Open in 2007. In the Australian Open, he had three set points in the second to go up 2 sets to love, but lost the set and eventually the match. In the French Open, he had leads in all three sets but ended up losing each one. Davydenko is not the best volleyer on tour and does not usually go into the net because of his solid baseline game. He also lacks variation in his game which is noticed by many tennis critics. This is because Davydenko plays his groundstrokes from the baseline in every match. On 26 October 2007 Davydenko got fined $2,000 (£976) for not trying hard enough during his defeat by Marin Cilic at the St Petersburg Open.
The ATP is currently investigating Davydenko's match against Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot after several large bets were placed at an online British gambling company, Betfair, in Arguello's favor. Davydenko withdrew from the match during the third set with a foot injury after he won the first set 6-2. Although Davydenko had suffered a couple of first-round defeats in previous weeks, it did not make sense to Betfair that such a heavy betting volume would go in Arguello’s direction when Arguello was losing the match. Per its agreement with the ATP, Betfair notified the Tour.
Further controversy surrounded Davydenko at the St Petersburg Open in October. During his 1-6 7-5 6-1 defeat by Marin Cilic he was given a code violation by umpire Jean-Philippe Dercq for not giving his best effort. He was later fined $2000 (£987) by the governing body of men's Tennis, the ATP. The following week, he lost 6-2 6-2 to Marcos Baghdatis at the Paris Masters, and this also caused some controversy, as Davydenko during the match was told by the umpire to do his best.
Captured first Futures title at Germany #3 and reached final following week at Germany #4
In June, reached back-to-back Futures finals at Germany #6 and #7 and made ATP debut in Amsterdam, reaching SF (l. to Sluiter)
Two weeks later, reached back-to-back Challenger semifinals at Wrexham and Togliatti
In August, won first Challenger title at Monchengladbach (d. Kempes)
Made Grand Slam debut at Australian Open, defeating Fukarek in 1st RD before losing to Rafter in four sets in 2nd RD
Missed six weeks after injuring lower back and hip in 1st RD at Dallas Challenger in February
Did not win a match again until May in Antwerp Challenger (l. in QF)
Advanced to 2nd RD on Roland Garros debut (d. Bjorkman, l. to Hewitt)
Captured Challenger titles in Ulm (d. Labadze) and Istanbul (d. Saulnier)
Finished season with QF in Basel
Won 12 ATP level matches and went 16-9 in Challenger play
On clay in Båstad, defeated Rochus and González before losing to eventual champion Carlos Moyà.
Captured fourth career Challenger title in Szczecin (d. D. Sánchez)
Finished season with second ATP QF in Vienna
The No. 2 Russian (behind No. 41 Kafelnikov) captured two ATP titles and finished in Top 50 for first time in his career
Opened season with his first career title in Adelaide (d. Vliegen) and three months later began clay court circuit with title in Estoril (d. Kafelnikov in QF, Mirnyi in SF, Calleri in F)
Followed with QF in Barcelona (d. Nalbandian, l. to Moyà) and in May advanced to final in St. Poelten (d. Verkerk, l. to Roddick)
Compiled records of 19-15 on clay and 11-13 on hard
The No. 3 Russian (behind Safin, Youzhny) compiled his best pro season by finishing in Top 30 for first time and capturing two ATP titles for second straight year
After a 3-9 start through mid-April, turned things around at ATP Masters Series Monte Carlo where he reached QF (l. to Moyà) and began a 10-2 run
Followed with title in Munich (d. No. 5 Schüttler in QF, Luis Horna in SF, and Verkerk in F) and 3rd RD at AMS Rome (d. González, l. to Spadea)
In July, reached SF in Stuttgart (l. to Cañas) and one month later advanced to QF in Long Island
In October, captured first career title on Russian soil in Moscow by winning singles and doubles titles (w/Andreev)
Saved one match point in SF win over Youzhny, then saved three match points in final against Rusedski
Compiled records of 19-12 on clay, 7-10 on hard, 7-4 on carpet, 0-3 on grass
Earned a career-high $651,372.
Davydenko began the year with a run to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open
During the claycourt season, Davydenko followed his success at the Australian with semifinal appearances at the Hamburg Masters and the French Open.
He closed out the year by reaching the quarterfinals at the Cincinnati Masters and the Paris Masters, and the semifinals at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.
He finished the year as the No. 1 Russian and the No. 5 player in the world.
He repeated his run to the Australian Open quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion Roger Federer in four sets.
Davydenko won Pörtschach (clay), Sopot (clay) and New Haven (hard) beginning his hard court winning streak.
He reached the semis outlasting Tommy Haas in the US Open quarterfinals, rebounding from a two-set deficit to win the 3 hour-45 minute epic 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, but lost to Roger Federer 1-6, 5-7, 4-6.
Finished the regular season by winning his second Moscow crown and his first ATP Masters Series tournament in Paris.
Helped Russia win the Davis Cup against Argentina, 3-2.
Davydenko finished the year as the No.1 Russian and ranked No.3 in the world.
He started out strong at Doha, losing in the semifinal to 4th seed Andy Murray in straight sets 5-7 2-6.
At the Australian Open, he reached the quarterfinal, losing to 12th seeded Tommy Haas of Germany in 5 sets.
At Rotterdam, as the No. 1 seed, he made it to the semifinal and had chances multiple times to take out Ivan Ljubi?i?, but failed to convert on those chances. Ljubi?i? eventually won the match in a third set tiebreaker.
At the Rome Masters, he lost to two-time defending champion and king of clay, Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, 6-7 7-6 4-6. This was a very tight match and could have gone either way. He is the closest player to beat Nadal on clay since 2006 until Nadal's defeat to Roger Federer in Hamburg.
Reached the semi-final at the French Open, losing to Roger Federer 5-7, 6-7, 6-7 in a closely fought match where Davydenko had many oportunities to at least win one of the sets.
Reached the 4th round of Wimbledon for the first time in his career before losing to Marcos Baghdatis.
Reached the semi-final of the U.S. Open for the second consecutive year. Lost to Roger Federer 5-7, 1-6, 5-7.
Won first title of the year at Moscow without losing a set, defending the title from last year.Davydenko finished the year as the No. 1 Russian and ranked No. 4 in the world
Started the season by reaching the semi-final of Doha, losing to Andy Murray.Reached the 4th round of the Australian Open, before losing to Mikhail Youzhny, 6–7 3–6 1–6. Made the semi-final of Dubai losing to Feliciano López in 3 sets.Won the Miami Masters defeating Rafael Nadal in the final, 6-4, 6-2 to claim his second ATP Masters Series title. After Miami, Davydenko made the final of Estoril, losing to Roger Federer, after retiring at 6-7 2-1. At the Monte Carlo Masters Davydenko lost in the semi-finals to Rafael Nadal.Won his thirteenth career title in Pöertschach. After a disappointing French Open, Davydenko won in Warsaw.Davydenko loses to David Nalbandian in the Paris Masters in semifinals. Made the Masters Cup at Shanghai.Qualifies for the semi-finals of the Masters Cup following victories over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin Del Potro in the group stage.Reaches Masters Cup final, losing to Novak Djokovic after defeating Andy Murray in the semifinals.