Nikolay Davydenko Looking to Capture First Career Grand Slam Title in 2010

January 18, 2010Bordentown, NJ, - After a sensational past few months, including the biggest title of his career at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, the oft-overlooked Nikolay Davydenko has forced tennis fans and media around the world to sit up and take serious notice.  Constantly competing against tennis’ more marquee names, the 28 year-old Russian has been a fixture in the ATP top 10 the past three years and, in recent months, has consistently knocked off the best players in the world – beating both the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players in the same tournament, on two separate occasions (London and Doha).   In the process Davydenko has grown a strong underground legion of fans and now, on the eve of his first round match at the 2010 Australian Open, has his eyes set on capturing his first career Grand Slam title this year.

“I am competing very well and feel like I belong and can challenge any other player on tour.  I hope to continue to play at a high level will continue to work for every ball, every point.”

Davydenko, the No. 6 seed in Melbourne has also been very vocal in crediting his racquet for much of his on court success. He was one of the first players on tour to adopt O-technology – a visible racquet technology built around a unique “hole” system along the hoop of the frame proven to increase aerodynamics and enlarge the hitting zone on the strings.  Davydenko has continually sung the praises of the technology and his racquets making it clear that, for him, there is no other choice.

“I don’t make it a secret that I love this racquet,” says Davydenko. “I have tried other racquets and to me nothing compares to Prince. The feel is special.”

“According to Helge Capell, Global Tour Manager for Prince and the person responsible for providing Nikolay with his racquets, “Nikolay is very in tune with his equipment. He was one of the first players on tour to switch to O-tech in 2005 and knew when he picked up the Ozone Pro Tour model in 2008 that the denser pattern would give him added control.  He has not looked back and has quietly put together an incredible few years.  Players are very aware of what O-technology has done to raise the rankings of their peers. We have a special, visible technology here, Nikolay realizes it, as do a growing number of tour and club-level players around the world.”

In fact, after his title run at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami in 2008, only a few days after picking up the Ozone Pro Tour, Davydenko said to on-court interviewer Mary Joe Fernandez that he wanted to “keep this racquet forever.”

Nikolay is also acutely aware that he has not amassed the wide-reaching notoriety of some of the other top 10 players on the men’s tour, but has slowly gained a loyal and strong underground following of fans who appreciate his hard nose playing style, heart and determination on tour – week in and week out.  As Davydenko puts it, “I am not Federer or Nadal, but lot of fans now come to me and tell me that I am their favorite. I don’t know, maybe they respect how hard I play and how much I work.”

As his official racquet sponsor, Prince will continue to provide Nikolay with his racquets through 2010, will work with him on new product development and utilize him in a variety of its on and off-line marketing functions. While not officially under contract with the brand last year, (though he continued to use and praise the product) after reaching the end of a long-term three-year deal, an agreement has been renewed for 2010.

“Nikolay is the perfect example of a player who truly stands by his racquet and we are proud to have him represent the brand and our racquet technology – especially during our fortieth anniversary year,” said Gordon Boggis, President and COO of Prince Sports, Inc.  His clear affinity for O-technology is not an anomaly.  We continually hear from players at every single level of the game who, once they make the leap and spend time playing these racquets, simply can’t go back to using anything else.  We are happy Nikolay is so comfortable with our frames and our team and wish him all the best in 2010.”

For more information on Nikolay Davydenko, including personal stats and detailed information on his Ozone Pro Tour racquet, log on to www.princetennis.com.

About Prince Sports, Inc.
Prince Sports, Inc, based in New Jersey, is a company of racquet sports enthusiasts whose goal is to create cutting edge, functional and technically advanced products that deliver performance benefits for avid players.  The Company’s portfolio of brands includes Prince (tennis, squash and badminton), Ektelon (racquetball) and Viking (platform/paddle tennis).   The Company has a history of innovation including inventing the first “oversize” and “longbody” racquets, the first “Natural Foot Shape” tennis shoe, the first “synthetic gut” string and the first electronic ball machine.  Today, Prince markets leading technologies in racquets (EXO3), string (Recoil), footwear (Precision Tube Technology) and apparel (Aerotech).   It has operations on three continents with distribution in over 100 countries. For more information on players, products or programs please visit www.princesports.com.

Contact: Zach Perles; Prince Sports, Inc. zperles@princesports.com 609.291.5932

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GETTING TO KNOW NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO:
•        Born in the Ukraine on June 2, 1981
•        Began playing tennis at 7 years
•        Racquet: Prince Ozone Pro Tour
•        Favorite players growing up were Ivan Lendl and Yannick Noah
•        Married his wife Irina in 2006
•        Coached by his older brother Eduard
•        Made his ATP debut at Amsterdam in 1999 – reaching the semi-finals
•        Made his Grand Slam debut in Melbourne in 2001 reaching second round before losing to then world No. 1 Pat Rafter
•        Favorite surface to play on is clay despite his two biggest career titles coming on hard courts
•        When not playing tennis, he enjoys fishing, soccer/futbol and ice hockey
•        20 ATP Tour titles – Australian Open would be his first career Grand Slam title
•        Was one of the first players on tour to play a racquet with O-technology in 2006

An Excerpt from “The Education of a Tennis Player”

The court was greasy, but somehow slow, which favored me because Tony’s slice didn’t take. Movement was tough, and this was a break for me because Tony decided not to put on spikes. He figured his strained thigh muscles would be jarred by the quick stops you make in spikes, possibly bringing on a cramp.

That first set was one of the strangest I’ve ever played. I should have won it and deserved to lose it. I got what I deserved and Tony took it 9-7, just took it right away from me after I’d been serving for the set at 5-3. He did it with beautiful backhands. I was sloshing and slipping around, and a couple of times I had asked referee Mike Gibson for permission to put on my spiked shoes. I’d wanted to begin the match in them, but he’d refused. After that game, Mike said all right. It meant all the difference to me.

Tony immediately won his serve in four points, but I felt surer on my feet and I knew I’d get going. Especially when I stopped him two points short of the set to keep even at 6-6. But I wasn’t so sure when I lost that first set anyway. I’d had a lot of luck during the year, and I wondered if it had run out at last. Although I’d worn spikes here and there throughout my career, the occasions were so rare during my professional days that they took some getting used to. You consciously changed your movements at first. Picked up your feet. No sliding. It was a new sensation until you were re-accustomed to them.

The slight uncertainty of moving in spikes was gone for good in the first game of the second set when I came through with a big serve at the crucial point of the match. With the first set his, and the pressure on me, Tony got me down 30-40 on my serve. One more point and he’d be up a set and a break, a pretty good edge in that mush.

We both knew this was a huge point. He took his time getting ready to return, and I did the same lining up—not overly so, maybe not even noticeable to the crowd, but we had to be right for this one. I was righter. I threw myself into the serve, and sliced it wide to his forehand. It didn’t come back. He barely touched it, and I could tell it pained him to miss the opportunity. You don’t get too many break-point chances on grass—and he didn’t have another.

It wouldn’t be apparent for a while, but the match turned upside down right there. I won the game and began hitting harder and harder as I got surer of my footing. Then I won the next and the next—five straight. From that break-point chance in the first game, Tony managed to win only five of the last 23 games. He came all apart as I wrapped him up, 7-9, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Not even a rain delay of a half-hour at the beginning of the third set could rust my concentration or help him pull his together.

Unlike 1962, I had control of myself all through the final match of the Grand Slam. I was never dazed as I had been against Emmo seven years before during a brief case of nerves down the stretch.

Serving match game, I opened with an ace. I knew what I was about, and wasn’t going to let Tony breathe. It was 40-0 when I did try to end with a grand-slamming flourish on a forehand volley. I blew it. A minor disappointment not to be able to score with a put-away as I had on the championship point at Wimbledon.

It fell to Tony to lose it with a forehand that he hit long. Both of us were glad it was over. Afraid to use spikes, he’d been victimized in sneakers, unable to counteract my better shots, including a number of very good lobs. It was one of my best days with the lob, always a useful shot, but even more damaging that day when running was tough.

Not enough ordinary players realize the value of the lob, and I guess I didn’t until I became a seasoned pro. It’s much more than a desperation measure. As an amateur, even if the odds were against my making a shot, I’d usually let fly anyway. When I became a pro, I couldn’t risk throwing away points like that because the opposition was equal or better.

This meant I had to be realistic. If my chances of making a shot from a difficult position were doubtful, I found you seldom get hurt with a lob.

But there were no more lobs to be hit. Not one more stroke on a chase that began God knows how many strokes ago in Brisbane when I hit the first serve to a fellow I wouldn’t know if he walked into the room, Massimo di Domenico. The others I knew pretty well . . . Andres . . . Arthur . . Emmo . . . Tony . . . Newc . . . Dennis . . . Kenny . . . Okker . . . Smith.

There were 1,005 games in 26 Grand Slam matches, and now it was all over.

Laver captured 11 major singles titles during his career, including Wimbledon in 1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969. After joining Don Budge as the only man to win a Grand Slam by sweeping all four majors in 1962, Laver turned professional where he, along with fellow pros Hoad, Rosewall and Gonzalez, were banned from playing the “amateur-only” major tournaments. When the “Open Era” of tennis began in 1968, Laver netted another five major singles titles, including his Grand Slam sweep of all four in 1969. Laver won nearly 200 singles titles during his career and was inducted into the International Tennis of Fame in 1981.

I am delighted that THE EDUCATION OF A TENNIS PLAYER is back in circulation and available for a new generation of tennis fans,” said Laver. “Winning the Grand Slam for a second time in 1969 seems just like yesterday and this book brings back a lot of memories of the great matches and exciting times. I hope people enjoy reading my story.

Collins, himself a 1994 inductee in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, first met Laver in 1956 at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston during the U.S. National Doubles Championships. Thirteen years later, the two collaborated on the book that was only to be published if Laver won the Grand Slam. Collins is best known for his colorful television commentary – and his colorful wardrobe – as well as his columns in the Boston Globe. Collins currently works as a commentator with ESPN2 and Tennis Channel.

Rod Laver is one of the greatest treasures we have in tennis and THE EDUCATION OF A TENNIS PLAYER is one of our sports most important literary works,” said Collins. “Rod was always so humble and gracious, but he could play tennis like a hurricane. He was as a great a champion as we have ever had in tennis and one of the all-time nicest guys.

New Chapter Press is also the publisher of THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS by Bud Collins, THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene Stauffer and BOYCOTT: STOLEN DREAMS OF THE 1980 MOSCOW OLYMPIC GAMES by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli among others. More information on New Chapter Press can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

Ivanovic Ends Her Open Early The Second Year In A Row

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – First for the good news: Ana Ivanovic has plenty of time this year to shop on Fifth Avenue and take in the sights and sounds of New York City.

And now for the bad: This is the second year in a row, she became a tourist after in the first week.

Much like last year the 21 year-old former No. 1 took an early exit at the US Open, this time losing to  52 ranked Kateryna Bondarenko in three sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (7).

“I created a lot of chances for myself,” Ivanovic said. “I’m really disappointed that I made a few mistakes in the important moments and my forehand let me down on a few occasions and obviously it hurts.

And it hurts her in the rankings as well. Last year, she was the No. 1 seed and in 2009 she fell to spots to No. 11. This Open is the cumulation of a bad year for the Serbian who just really couldn’t put it all together.

“I think it’s been, you know, as much as it hurts and was disappointing, you know, times so far, I feel I learned a lot from it,” she said. “I learned a lot about myself and you know, people around me and about what I have to do and in order to become a better player, because there was a point that, you know, I really trusted the team around me, so I didn’t question many things that were happening.

“Many times, you know, I didn’t know why I was doing certain things. So now we have, with the changes that happened, I’m more aware of certain things and more aware of the things that helped me get better. That’s obviously really good things.

“Now I know for myself what’s going to help me to improve, and you know, what kind of work it’s going to help me, rather than just rely 100% on a coach, because many times they can’t feel – all the time they can’t feel what I feel. That’s one thing that I feel I learned in last month or two.”

This time she lost top Bondarenko, who was nursing a “strained muscle” in her upper left leg, which she injured playing in Toronto. “She was wearing a wrap all game and it looked like it was aggravated by the end the match.

“It started to hurt more,” Bondarenko said. “Before the match it was okay but by the end it was more.”

Ironically as the match went on Ivanovic was the one that faltered. She won the first set 6-2, but then dropped the second 6-3. The Serbian was able to come back being down in the third to force a tie breaker, but could not withstand the Ukrainian’s will and determination.

“You know, 6-5 in the third and deuce I believe and  I played great and set myself up and made the mistake, in the net every time,” said Ivanovic who is now 24-13 this year.  “It’s a little frustrating. And then on match point, maybe it was wrong shot. Also, a few times I think I made a wrong shot selection, as well.

“Just also a little bit to do with confidence, just some of the shots I think weren’t the right shots but were not really coming. That was really frustrating.”

Now she will have some time to think about it and maybe take in the sights and sounds of New York. And don’t worry, after last year, Ivanovic knows the good places.