Tue, Oct 17, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Davydenko evens score against Safin

TENNIS FINALS Nikolay Davydenko and Marat Safin have now won two games each against the other after Davydenko took the Kremlin Cup with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win


Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, left, is congratulated by his father after the final match of the Kremlin Cup tennis tournament in Moscow on Sunday. Davydenko defeated his compatriot Marat Safin in three sets.


Top seed Nikolay Davydenko beat Russian compatriot and two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin on Sunday to take the Kremlin Cup title.

With the 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win Davydenko clinched his ninth career title and fourth of the season while also leveling his head-to-head record with Safin at two wins all.

"I'm glad to win at home," Davydenko said. "I lost two of my previous meetings with Marat [Safin] on hardcourts but today I was stronger."

The 25-year-old Monte Carlo resident was slightly more accurate from the outset, breaking the former world number one's serve halfway into the opening set.

Safin, whose last final appearance was in Halle in June last year before a knee injury sent his career into a tailspin, broke back immediately to level at three games all.

But Davydenko, 2004 champion here, broke again to take the opening set in 41 minute.

No big serves were produced in the second set until the 12th game, when Safin broke to level at one set all after one hour 31 minutes on court. Davydenko, currently fifth in the ATP race, broke twice from the start in the deciding set to a comfortable 3-0 lead before Safin chalked up his frst point in the set also with a break.

However, Davydenko managed to keep his advantage through to win the set and the match in two hours 19 minutes.

The winner received a silver trophy by Cartier and US$142,000, while Safin pocketed US$83,600.

Earlier on Sunday the 19-year-old Muscovite Anna Chakvetadze won the WTA Kremlin Cup title beating fifth seeded compatriot Nadia Petrova in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Chakvetadze received US$196,900 and a silver trophy with runner-up Petrova pocketing a US$105,800 purse.

James Blake brought out his best game in the presence of tennis royalty as he won a second straight Stockholm Open on Sunday with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg looking on.

Blake lifted his fifth title of the season 6-4, 6-2 over Jarkko Niemimen in a quick-fire 55 minutes, softening up the Finn with two breaks in the opening set and concluding with two more in the second.

Sitting only meters away from the showcase court in a raised VIP box, Borg kept a keen eye on the action before later presenting the trophy along with Princess Lilian of the royal family.

"This is the first time I've ever played in front of Bjorn Borg -- you can bet I was a little nervous," said Blake, also accompanied in Stockholm by his British-born mother on her first visit.

Blake, sixth in the race for the Masters Cup in China next month, collected his fifth title of the season to stand second overall to Roger Federer (nine).

The 55-minute rout was Blake's 55th win of the season against just 21 defeats.

Defending champion Ivan Ljubicic defeated fifth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 to win the BA-CA Tennis Trophy on Sunday.

The top-seeded Croatian, who has won three ATP titles this season and six overall, did not drop his serve all tournament for the second straight year in Vienna.

Ljubicic beat Gonzalez 6-3, 7-5 in last year's quarter-finals and improves to 4-3.

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