Davydenko heralds ‘new era’ in men’s tennis

Russian dark horse Nikolay Davydenko has heralded a new era in men’s tennis, saying much-improved depth meant the Grand Slam dominance of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was over.

From the 2005 French Open through to last year’s Wimbledon, the Swiss and the Spaniard virtually monopolised Grand Slam titles, winning 17 of the 18 events with the only aberration Novak Djokovic’s win here in 2008.

The top two men in the world have also met each other in eight Grand Slam finals since 2005.

However, Spain’s Juan Martin Del Potro broke through in last year’s US Open and Davydenko said the face of men’s tennis was finally changing.

He pointed to Robin Soderling’s appearance in the final of the French Open and American Andy Roddick reaching the decider at Wimbledon, while Scotland’s Andy Murray was a finalist at the US Open.

“It’s always talk about Federer, Nadal, Federer, Nadal,” he said Tuesday after breezing through his first round match at the Australian Open.

“But who knows now?

“If you see Wimbledon it was Roddick, Del Potro was US Open. The game is changing now. The top 10 guys are pretty hard [to play].

“You see Soderling was in the final of Paris, it’s not always Federer and Nadal in finals.

“It’s starting to change in tennis. It’s not only Nadal and Federer anymore.”

The comments by Davydenko, who is yet to reach a Grand Slam final but is looming as a real contender in Melbourne on the back of some impeccable early season form, echoed similar sentiments from Djokovic earlier this week.

The world number three said he felt he had closed the gap on Federer and Nadal in recent times, since aligning with new coach Todd Martin.

“The last five, six years the dominance was obvious from Federer, Nadal,” he said.

“They’ve been winning all the Grand Slams they’ve played. But now, in the last two years or so, the things are changing a little bit.

“It’s good for the sport and it’s good for us, the group of the players that is trying to catch up with Federer and Nadal. We have more belief that we can win a Grand Slam.” — AFP

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