That No. 3 Davydenko gets no recognition is criminal
Posted: Wednesday November 15, 2006 11:31AM; Updated: Wednesday November 15, 2006 5:25PM
For a player who will win 70 matches this year and is currently ranked No. 3, Nikolay Davydenko's anonymity is fairly surprising.
Jon Wertheim will answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag every Wednesday.
I find it such an injustice that a brilliant player like Nikolay Davydenko is so uncelebrated and unheralded by fans, the media and especially the sponsors. For crying out loud, the No. 3 player in the world buys his own match clothes! -- Agnes Domingo, Manila, Philippines
Yes, let's zig where everyone else zags and give some credit to third-ranked -- you read right -- Nikolay Davydenko. I'm obviously writing this before the Shanghai Masters Cup conclusion, but if the guy doesn't win another game, he'll still have turned in just a banner year.
From his uninspiring game to his diminishing ration of hair, he might not be the leading exponent for "Color in Tennis." But how do you not respect a guy who will win 70 matches on all surfaces; who plays week-in, week-out; who was toiling outside the top 50 two years ago and simply made the necessary improvements? That ought to at least warrant a darn clothing deal!
In fact, we're making it a personal Mailbag mission to get the guy more notoriety. We'll start basic. Here's what he looks like. Seriously, Davydenko's anonymity is pretty stunning. But I wonder if he doesn't have that Hope Davis, White Stripes, Gonzaga basketball thing going on. He's becoming so well-known for being overlooked and underappreciated that he's fast becoming mainstream. Dude, I liked Davydenko when I saw him a few years back at St. Polten on a side stage. I used to like him before he got so commercial!
I know you're a boxing guy, so let me ask you this: Who is the more dominant athlete: Roger Federer or Floyd Mayweather Jr.? I really tried to believe that there was a chance Floyd would lose (or at least struggle) against Carlos Baldomir, much like I tried to believe that Fed would struggle against Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open or Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, but no such luck. I think you have to at least add Floyd to the Tiger/Federer/Schumacher conversation. -- Jason Higgins, Seattle
Because he's generally lacking in the charisma department -- a few unseemly legal incidents aren't helping either -- Mayweather tends to be excluded from the contemporary Mt. Olympus, though his results indicate otherwise. Still, I don't see any contemporary athlete coming close to Federer's level of dominance.
Week-in, week-out, regardless of surface, regardless of the opponent, Federer gets it done. His record in finals speaks to his poise. His lack of a coach is testament to his self-sufficiency. Check out the math in the ATP points tally and you'd be hard-pressed to find another athlete so empirically superior to the field.
Inter-sport comparisons are always hard, but I would submit these differences:
1) Boxers only fight twice or three times each year, as Mayweather does. Easy to focus your training and make sure you're in peak performance. Federer will play 90 times this year.
2) Boxers, of course, pick and choose their opponents and even the conditions (ring dimensions, glove size, etc.) . Imagine if Federer could say: Mario Ancic on grass? Nah, too risky. Clay only.
3) Boxing is my guilty pleasure but it's morally indefensible.
We got a lot of comments making this point, but Neil Grammer of Toronto gets to be the mouthpiece: "I'm puzzled by letters that 'vilify' Federer for winning too much. I've seen Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Barry Sanders and Tiger Woods and I'm only too happy to see someone as talented as Federer win again and again. There may not be anyone of his caliber for generations, so instead of whining about his lack of competition, enjoy your good fortune to be able to witness such immaculate play. Do you think Picasso's art teacher got sick of Pablo's paintings always being the best in his class?"