Sunday, November 29, 2009

ATP Tour Finale: Nikolay Makes His Case

Curtain Call
Player: Andy Ram
Nation: Israel
Age: 29
Current Doubles Ranking: #10
Doubles Partner: Max Mirnyi (Belarus)
Notable Conquests: Bryan/Bryan, 2nd seed; Dlouhy/Paes, 4th seed and Cermak/Mertinak, 5th seed
Tour Page:
Personal Website:
Today's Match: lost to Bryan/Bryan in straight sets

Yes, that is written correctly. Mirnyi and Ram had a round-robin win against the Bryan brothers but lost to them in the final.

This was Andy Ram's first time in the final match of the year-end tournament, though not his partner's . Mirnyi is, in fact, a former champion with the great Jonas Bjorkman (Sweden). Mirnyi is not Ram's usual partner. They have teamed up for the current year because Ram's usual mate, Jonathan Erlich, a fellow Israeli, has been out all year with an injury. Erlich will be back in the coming year and will team up with Ram again. Mirnyi will return to a former partner: Mahesh Bhupati (India). That leaves Mark Knowles's dance card open once again, though with his sure hands at the net, he won't be alone for long. A hard-serving lefty would seem a good fit, Frenchman Michael Llodra, perhaps. The partner carousel probably adds to the difficulty in fans latching on to doubles but if you like soap operas, it can get interesting from time to time.

Hats off to the Bryans. They needed to win four straight matches in order to clinch the year-end #1 ranking and they pulled it off.

And my goodness, hats off to Nikolay Davydenko (Russia) as well. The list of players who have beaten Federer and Nadal in the same tournament is very short. Add to that del Potro and he bagged all of the year's Slam winners in the same week. The quietest perennial top-10er you'll ever see, Davydenko has sent out a warning shot for next year. Success at year-end does not always translate to the following season but Davydenko has certainly had an impressive fall swing: Kuala Lampur, Shanghai Masters and now London. At 28 years of age, Nikolay has just had the best week of his career.

2010 should be very interesting indeed. All of this week's contestants plus Roddick, who was supposed to be here, should be strong again next year. And then, of course, there's the brute squad that follows.

One bold prediction for the coming year: Novak Djokovic will be year-end #1 for 2010. However, Federer's still the favorite for the Australian until proven otherwise.

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