Fed Takes On Fallen Rival

Picture: AFP/eurosport.com
Roger Federer has a 15-2 head-to-head advantage over Nikolay Davydenko. Image courtesy of eurosport.com/AFP
While Novak Djokovic has the chance to cruise through to the business end of the tournament in the far softer top half of the draw, starting from Thursday, Roger Federer is facing tough match-ups everywhere he looks. It starts with former top-tenner Nikolay Davydenko in the second round. From there he’s looking at a third round clash against in-form Bernard Tomic and a tough test against former Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round of 16.

First things first, though, and Federer needs to bring something resembling his ‘A’ game against Davydenko, who is starting to rediscover the form that took him to a highest ranking of three. He fell from a year end ranking of six in 2009, down to 22 the next year and 41 at the finish of 2011. He has hovered around the forties since then, but appears to be on the up after reaching the final in Doha two weeks ago. In Qater he dismissed Mikhail Youzhny and David Ferrer in straight sets before falling to Richard Gasquet in a tight three-set decider.

Federer last met the Russian in the Rotterdam semis last year on an indoor hardcourt, and got home 4-6 6-3 6-4. The Swiss star has won their last five meetings, but Davydenko did win two straight at the end of 2009 and start of 2010, and both triumphs were on hardcourt. Federer won both of their previous Australian Open battles in four sets in 2010 and 2006. He’s looking to extend a streak which has seen him reach the quarter-finals or better in the last 34 Grand Slam events.

Davydenko dropped the opening set in his first round match against Israeli Dudi Sela before fighting back to win in four , while Federer cruised through his night match against Frenchman Benoit Paire losing just seven games.

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