Alexa

There's plenty of gray in Davydenko's case

There's plenty of gray in Davydenko's case

Out on the Grandstand Court Monday, Nikolay Davydenko did not look much like a lightning rod. Unexpressive and balding, he captured another first-round match at the U.S. Open in mundane fashion, transforming himself once again into a very portable human backboard.
Davydenko had no trouble with the Canadian-born American, Jesse Levine, winning in 100 minutes, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1, before a sparse, somnolent audience. The Russian signed some autographs, walked off the court to mild applause. His performance appeared not in the least bit extraordinary.
But there is much more going on these days with Davydenko than his generic baseline game and his fourth seed. He is involved in a gambling investigation of considerable weight, one that already has embarrassed the pro tour. Davydenko spoke of this Monday after the match as a persecuted soul, with considerable conviction. He says he is guilty only of being Russian, when he lives mostly in Germany.
"What can I say?" he said. "If I get any questions, I say, 'Never betting in my life.' I don't know how you bet, and I don't know guys who bet. I'm a top player and fans and everybody see I am like this guy, a bad guy who's gambling. For me it's pretty tough. I never do like this in my life. But some guys believe, some not believe."
There are enough grays here that you extend Davydenko some breathing space for now. But officials are wise enough to poke through the smoke to root out any evidence of tennis arson in this complex case.
Earlier this month during a tournament in Sopot, Poland, Davydenko won the first set in his match against Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina. At that point, an uncommon volume of bets was wagered on Arguello, then ranked 87th in the world. The online bookmaker Betfair voided all wagering on the match and immediately notified the Association of Tennis Professionals. Davydenko lost the second set, 6-3, and trailed 2-1 in the third when he retired with a foot problem.
Ultimate workhorse
Davydenko is well-known as the ultimate workhorse. The U.S. Open is his 26th tournament of the year. He says he has a stress fracture in his foot, and that he has only been able to play these past few weeks because the foot doesn't hurt him as much as it did during that Arguello match.
Davydenko suggests that perhaps there was excessive wagering against him in Sopot because he had lost in the first round at three successive tournaments after Wimbledon; or maybe some Russians in the crowd spoke with his wife, Irina, and learned about his foot problem that way.
He refuses to be tainted by his nationality and past associations of Russian athletes with suspected organized crime figures.
"I live from 15 years old in Germany," Davydenko said. "I don't know German Mafia. Maybe if you go now to Brooklyn, you find Russian Mafia here in New York. But I never saw no guys in New York from Russia. I've been in Moscow only for Davis Cup and for Kremlin Cup, nothing else.
"Russia is like the only country with the Mafia? Why not they speak about the Italian guy?"


Updated : 2020-12-04 07:57 GMT+08:00