Weekly Slice: Reduced schedule could benefit Davydenko

First serve

Nikolay Davydenko is experiencing yet another renaissance in his strange career, re-emerging as a force just when it looked as if he was hitting the skids.

Davydenko has spent most of the year in the shadows, plagued by injury and patchy form, and has rarely looked like a top 10 player.

However, he burst into the spotlight in Shanghai last week, clinching his third Masters Series title after knocking off Rafael Nadal in the final.

It offered further proof that Davydenko has the ability to beat the very best when the mood takes him, which appears to be with increasing scarcity.

So often that the Ukrainian-born Russian seems to lack for motivation, like in his tame surrender to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon this year.

Yet every now and then he plays like a world-beater, fighting for every ball and cranking out ground strokes with metronomic accuracy, just like last week.

Davydenko has always played an exhausting schedule, which normally comprises of more tournament appearances than any other top 10 player.

It's widely speculated that is a major reason why he has never gone all the way in a Grand Slam, with four semifinal and five quarterfinal defeats on his record.

The injuries that slowed Davydenko early in 2009 may have actually proven to be a blessing in disguise. If it prompts a rethink and a reduced schedule in future years, the results could be interesting.

Drop shot

Spare a thought for the two players detained by Swedish police on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes ahead of this week's Stockholm Open. In accordance with Swedish law, the players' names have not been made public, but their identities quickly spread around the tennis grapevine. Before long, a locker-room prankster had filled their cubicles with condoms, dirty magazines and a whip.

Clean winner

Hats off to tough Australian Samantha Stosur, who claimed her first main tour title last week in Osaka, 10 years after turning professional. Stosur, a semifinalist at this year's French Open, climbed to No. 13 in the WTA rankings and has the game to reach the top 10 if she can add some consistency.

Use your frequent flyer miles

Pack your winter woolies and head to Moscow this week for a high-quality combined men's and women's event. The Kremlin Cup features an in-form Davydenko as the men's top seed, but he faces another local hero, Marat Safin, in the first round. Three top 10 women are also featured, including Vera Zvonareva and Jelena Jankovic.

Last week's winners
ATP Masters, Shanghai: Nikolay Davydenko
Generali Ladies, Linz: Yanina Wickmayer
HP Open, Osaka: Samantha Stosur

This week's predictions
If Open, Stockholm: Robin Soderling
Kremlin Cup, Moscow: Mikhail Youzhny
Kremlin Cup, Moscow: Nadia Petrova
BGL Open, Luxembourg: Kim Clijsters

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