Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Can Davydenko Continue Streaking?

A new and improved Nikolay Davydenko will attempt to end one streak by continuing another today.

Two remarkable streaks will collide on Rod Laver Arena today - and only one of them will survive.

Actually, it is more than one streak that Davydenko is looking to continue. First, he's beaten today's opponent - The Mighty Federer - twice consecutively. While a third consecutive victory might be asking a bit too much from the tennis gods, we should note that Nadal has defeated Federer 5 times consecutively (twice) and Murray has defeated Federer 4 times in a row as well. Therefore, as difficult as it is to imagine another Davydenko win (especially given that we are talking about best-of-five) over Federer, we are not talking about an impossibility here.

Stranger things have already happened: After 12 consecutive losses against Federer, some disruptive force seems to have overtaken Davydenko's brain - or at least the part of the brain that stored the memories of all those drubbings that he suffered at the hands of Federer - and suffused it with an extreme level of confidence.

Suddenly I-can't-win turned into I can't lose for the Russian. A quick look at Davydenko's other streak is proof of that. The smallest member of the top-10 has reeled off 7 straight wins against top-10 opponents - for a guy who currently boasts a 34-46 record against the top-10, this current streak is nothing short of a genuine miracle.

Just what the hell is going on with Davydenko? Has an alien slipped into his skin? Is his wife whipping up magical borscht in the kitchen? Has he made a deal with the devil? Enquiring minds would like to know.

The fact that Davydenko is a phenomenal mover who can exhange punches with the best of them has never been a secret - he's finished each of the last five seasons in the top-10 - but the roll that he currently finds himself on is borderline extra-terrestrial.

Speaking of extra-terrestrial, Roger Federer's streak of 22 consecutive Grand-Slam appearances will be put to the test yet again in this highly intriuging match up. While it seems pretty ho-hum to followers of the Swiss Maestro (we've all come to expect him to win at slams - at least until the final), no other earthling has come anywhere close to duplicating this feat.

Let me help you put Federer's remarkable achievement into perspective: Rafael Nadal's streak was stopped at 1 last night. Novak Djokovic is looking to increase his streak to 2 today. Andy Murray's streak is now at 1 - and he'll find himself only a mere 21 brilliant Slams away from Federer - if Davydenko can pull the miracle on Rod Laver today.

But would it really take a miracle for Davydenko to win today? If anything can derail the Federer Express, why shouldn't it be the Russian Railroad? Everything that Davydenko has done in the last two months gives us reason to believe that Davydenko is the only player with a potent enough force-field to rattle Federer's sabre.

But he has been so hot for so long. One has to wonder- will the magic potion wear off or will there be enough gas left in the Davydenko tank to put a giant exclamation point on his 2-month-long statement to the tennis world?

Whatever happens, Davydenko is not going to get caught up in fantasizing about it. When asked if he's ever dreamed that this might be the time for him, he cooly responded "No, no, no. I never dream. Maybe in the night, but not in the day."

Pick: Federer in 4

Other Picks: Serena Williams over Azarenka in 3. Li Na over Venus in 3. Djokovic over Tsonga in 5

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