Djokovic Serbs up a treat
World number three battles back from a set down to beat Russian
He was the better player in the first two sets, definitely. I'm just happy to get through
Quotes of the week
Defending champion Novak Djokovic opened the defence of his ATP World Tour Finals title with a hard-fought 3-6 6-4 7-5 victory Nikolay Davydenko.
The Serbian, playing in his 95th game of the season, battled back from a set down to triumph in a titanic Group B tussle at the O2 Arena in London.
Davydenko did his best to cause a second successive upset following Robin Soderling's stunning victory over Rafael Nadal in the afternoon.
The Russian managed the opening break in the fifth game and went on to seal the set with a second thanks to a return that just dropped in.
Having triumphed in Basle and Paris before the event Djokovic was not used to being on the back foot. He let frustration finally get the better of him at the start of the second set when he hurled his racquet to the ground.
However the world number three showed the fighting qualities that he has become renowned for on the ATP Tour, levelling matters in style.
After several wasted opportunities he eventually registered a break in the ninth game of the second set that meant the need for a decider.
Djokovic showed remarkable powers of strength to take control before eventually serving out for the match at the second time of asking.
"I haven't felt great on the court today," he told Sky Sports afterwards. "I'm not the freshest guy on the tour right now.
"He was the better player in the first two sets, definitely. I'm just happy to get through."
Davydenko was also feeling the strain as the match, easily the best of the tournament so far, wore on into a third hour.
He twice called for treatment from the tour's doctor having felt unwell, yet still somehow mustered enough strength to spare himself from defeat at 5-4 down, clinching an unlikely break with a backhand down the line.
The reprieve only proved temporary, though, as he immediately lost his serve in a hurry.
Djokovic made no mistake second time around, a long forehand from his rival giving him the 200th point in a thrilling contest that finally came to a climax just before midnight.