Peak match- Davydenko vs Kafelnikov

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by conway, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. conway

    conway Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2014
    Messages:
    721
    How would you see this matchup going prime to prime. Kafelnikov won 2 majors and Davydenko none but their playing styles are similar. Davydenko did succeed where Kafelnikov failed, winning 3 masters and the WTF. Had Kafelnikov played in the era of peak Federer he would be slamless too. In a series of 5 matches over the 5 major surfaces I would probably go:

    Slow hard courts- Kafelnikov wins 3 of 5
    Clay- Kafelnikov wins 3 of 5
    Grass- Kafelnikov wins 5 of 5
    Fast hard courts- Davydenko wins 3 of 5
    Carpet/indoors- Davydenko wins 4 of 5
     
    #1
  2. conway

    conway Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2014
    Messages:
    721
    I guess no interest in this matchup?
     
    #2
  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I donĀ“t really know Davidenkho much and I know a bit better kalashnikov.But your break down seems very realistic to me.When he was on, few could have a chance to beat Kafelnikov on a slow or medium paced hard court, as he proved winning the FO and AO.Davidenkho was, maybe more consistent, but lacked that firepower of Kafelnikov.
     
    #3
  4. conway

    conway Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2014
    Messages:
    721
    I actually think on faster courts Davydenko had more firepower and hit the ball earlier. He was good at using his opponents pace, and he hit flatter than Kafelnikov. On slower courts where he could take a bigger backswing and had more time, and where players have to generate most of their own pace, Kafelnikov probably had more power.
     
    #4
  5. President

    President Legend

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,992
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Davydenko was no slouch on slower surfaces either, he won the Miami Masters (a tournament that maybe has the slowest hardcourts EVER) beating Roddick and Nadal (in the final) and made the semifinals of the French Open, losing to a beastly, doped up Puerta. He pushed Nadal hard on clay too, once or twice. I think Kafelnikov and Davydenko would have a very close head to head on all surfaces, except grass.
     
    #5
  6. conway

    conway Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2014
    Messages:
    721
    Yeah Davyenko might push Kafelnikov more on slow hard court and clay than I credited. I do think Davydenko would have been pretty dominant over Kafelnikov indoors though. Even though Kafelnikov made a WTF final (where he was humiliated by Sampras) I don't think he was ever that formidable on any faster surface. Faster hard courts I would also favor Davydenko, but less decisively than indoors/carpet. Grass Kafelnikov would have the clear edge entirely due to how bad Davydenko is, as Kafelnikov is only a fair grass courter.
     
    #6
  7. Thomas Tung

    Thomas Tung Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2004
    Messages:
    178
    The thing is, Kafelnikov not only won FO'96, he has 3 FO QF, all three times being beaten by Kuerten (and all in 5-sets). and 1 FO semi on his belt. Also beat Becker indoors in Milan '95 and Ivanisevic Moscow '98. Nikolay's only advantage is that he takes the ball very early -- in essence, he was a poor man's Agassi or a greatly improved version of Dominik Hrbaty. Nikolay had hands of stone at the net; Yevgeny was one of the finest volleyers on tour (you don't win multiple GS titles in doubles in the modern era w/o having good feel). Nikolay's serve was average at best, Yevgeny was one of the best spot servers (Agassi once mentioned Kafelnikov's serve as "very slippery" and hard to hit winners/aggressive returns against).

    Perhaps even more crucially, Davydenko only has that one game plan (lesser version of Agassi). When it works well, it produces wonders, but when it doesn't, all it takes for a bit of slowness in the legs and a bit more time to react to the ball, and you see the massive slump that Nikolay is going under (which is why he's to retire in this year's Kremlin Cup). Yevgeny had one of the best transition games in the 90s, and a truly magnificent backhand (voted by his own ATP peers in 1997 as having the best backhand on tour at the time). He was also a much more tactical/strategic player than Nikolay, simply because he had more options and his game was much more effortless (excellent natural ballstriker).

    As for grass? Kafelnikov won Halle 3 years in a row (96-98), although admittedly he always seemed to nosedive in Wimbledon. Strange for a all-around player with a fine return, fine volleys, and superb transition game. But such is the mystery that is Kafelnikov ...

    Of course, to play devil's advocate, Dominik Hrbaty (who was definitely a lesser version of Agassi) had a fantastic record against Kafelnikov (and Kuerten too). But I think Yevgeny would win, on average, 3/5 times against Davydenko on all surfaces. Kafelnikov just has a better serve/return of serve combo when it comes down to it. I sure wish he had Davydenko's mental focus, though!
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
    #7

Share This Page