j'aime l'equipe


Not being able to read articles in l’Equipe is one big reason I regret not learning French. (The other? Not understanding all of Eddie Izzard‘s stand-up routines.)

Here’s a story that the French paper did on Nikolay Davydenko back in May. Can someone help with a translation?

Read: Page 1, page 2. And an uncropped version of the Kolya photo here.

(via MTF)


  1. Interesting article.
    I can try and translate… I’ll email you the result…

  2. Stephanie Myles says:

    Here it is (very rough translation). Interesting story.

    The shit disturber.

    Nikolay Davydenko, 25 years old, tennis player.

    The world No. 3 has two idols, Lendl and Noah. Stakhanovist of the courts (In Russia, workers who exceeded production targets could become “Stakahanovites”, per Wikipedia), in the image of the former, he borrows from the latter a penchant for straight talk that makes a lot of waves in the formatted universe of modern tennis.

    That must be it. It’s the oversized skull that makes Nikolay Davydenko look as though he just alit from a galaxy light-years removed from the tennis planet. When he leans torwards you with his soft, somewhat unidentifiable air, you’d think you’re seeing an extraterrestrial, with his head swollen like a bulb and peeled like a desert.

    Or, given his equally-arid personality, could he be a Vulcan from Star Trek who has no knowledge of emotions, or, at the very least, conceals them as best he can?

    He is the world No. 3, he has won 10 titles including Paris-Bercy 2006 and a Davis Cup. But who knows about it? Journalists avoid his press conferences (too muddled/confused). The fans avoid his matches, too sleep-inducing. And the sponsors avoid his persona, too transparent. Last year, Davydenko still boasted a blank jersey. Since then, Airness chose him to conquer the tennis market – an incredible feat considering (it’s a very hip label). One more hint that Davydenko is a strange kind of alien.

    Just now, Nikolay has just lost in the third round of the Miami tournament against Amer Delic, an unknown issued from the qualifying, and he doesn’t appear disappointed. Nothing shows on his pale face, nothing alters the monotony of his delivery, but his answers are hardly boring. Because, without even blinking, Nikolay wavers. He is a unique product in the policed and formatted tennis universe. “He can even be funny, he has a deadpan sense of humour,” Fabrice Santoro said. “The problem, is that he really doesn’t make much of an effort to please.” To say the least.

    For example, he has just come out against the pro-American reforms planned by the ATP ¬– “The ATP, it isn’t Disneyland” – and got himself fined. Another fine. In January, he had to pay another $10,000 and apologize after having stated that some minor tournaments such as the one in Sydney, where he defaulted in the second round, held no interest for the players. In the aftermath, he chided the Australian Open organizers, who waited until the quarterfinals to put him on the Centre Court. “Up until then, I always accepted playing on the outer courts. But I saw that others, like Baghdatis or Monfils, were scheduled on the Centre Court simply because Nike and adidas paid for them to appear on television. I don’t have a contract with them, so I’m nothing.”

    He who once said, “F..k Nike. You can write it, to hell with them,” has never pulled any punches with the system. His bugaboo? The absolute power of image and how it’s controlled by the equipment manufacturers. “OK, they put money on the juniors. But I never won anything in juniors. I was a late bloomer. But maybe I’ll last longer than them.” And when we ask him why those brands wanted nothing to do with him, he said, “Ask them! Nike bet everything on Federer and Nadal. Adidas had nobody at the time in the top 10 but they clearly didn’t want to bet on me, since they proposed to pay me like a top-50 player. … Anyway, I’ve always had problems with Nike or adidas shoes.” Today, Prince has bailed him out. And soon Airness will come out with a pair of shoes for him. “I like the idea of being the first to wear a new brand. Everyone has the same T-shirts on the tour. Me, I’ll be different.”

    He really doesn’t give a damn about his “look,” which sticks out like a sore thumb in his world. Do people criticize him for his humanoid robot ways? Davydenko responds in kind. “Why smile on the court? If you are a professional player, that means you’re not a clown. Tennis, it isn’t a circus. It’s like golf. Do you see golfers making jokes on the greens?” Emotions, that’s not for him. Winning the Davis Cup did nothing for him. “Because, in tennis, a collective victory makes no sense.” No one should be surprised: his biggest idol is Ivan Lendl, of whom the famous American magazine Sports Illustrated wrote this headline, after his win at the U.S. Open in 1986: “The champion nobody cares about.” Does that remind you of someone? Nikolay: “Lendl’s ability to concentrate always impressed me. The rest, I could care less.”

    So, being unconventional is not his thing. He’d like to be – note, strangely, that Yannick Noah is his other idol. But he cannot. “For the fans, I agree, it’s better to play like Yannick. But I can’t get there. If I try to show something, I lose my concentration, then points, and therefore the match.” Eduard, the older brother and coach the last 15 years, agrees. “There are players who can expend energy breaking racquets. Not Nikolay. “ It’s true that Davydenko doesn’t make the crowds stand as one. On his menu are nothing but self-sacrifice and the steadiness of a metronome. It’s difficult to come up against that.

    Ivan Ljubicic: “Playing three hours against Davydenko is like playing six hours against another opponent.”

    His semi-final against Rafael Nadal in Rome was the archetype: 3: 38! Sixteen minutes less than the longest three-set match in the history of the ATP.

    Tommy Haas: “He’s a pitching machine.”

    Santoro again. “There are very few players that I know I cannot beat. Davydenko is one of them. I just can’t manage to destabilize him. My chip, the ones that causes problems for everyone, he just feasts on it! He’s an extremely strong player. He’s not hefty, but his great elasticity and his ability to rotate allows him to create a lot of power.”

    Even his game, so 80s, bears no resemblance to today’s howitzers. “And yet, it resembles the game of Andre Agassi, whose game everyone admired,” Eduard said. The comparison brings a smile, but Eduard is right. Same footwork, same aggressiveness from the baseline, same taking the ball on the rise. As always, the power of image? It is certainly not his younger brother’s stakhanavism that will help in the comparison with the American. Last year, Davydenko missed just two weeks of competition. Thirty-two tournaments on his record, top in the top 10. For the naysayers, the Russian became the world No. 3 only for that reason. Because, so often, obviously, he played the little minnows and not the big fish. “When a player is ranked No. 3 in the world, we have a right to expect that he’ll display his worthiness against the greats, not that he’ll only plunder the middle class,” former Australian champion John Newcombe once said.

    For many, Davydenko is just chasing the almighty dollar. “But I already have plenty of money!” he said, impatiently. “If I wanted to make more, I’d play singles, doubles and even mixed doubles! But I stopped playing doubles. My problem, is that if I don’t play, I don’t feel (the ball). For my confidence, I have to play, match after match, week after week. That’s how the confidence can return after a loss.” At any rate, this infernal rate seems to sum up Davydenko’s career. Since he earned his first ATP points in a Futures event in Saint-Brieuc in 1999, he has never stopped going around the world. “To go to Brittany, Nikolay and my wife crossed all of France in a car,” Eduard remembers. “Me, I had to stay and work in Germany. After that, everything moved quickly. In 2000, I started to travel with him and he quickly moved from No. 600 to No. 140.”

    It’s also because of this overloaded schedule that Nikolay could only squeeze in his wedding with Irina between the Masters Cup and the Davis Cup final last December. Two short weeks on Mauritius, where he didn’t take a break. “Honeymoon, tennis, I combined it all.”

    He really has no fixed address, and there again, it’s been so since he was a teenager, since he left at age 15 for Germany, under the protective wing of a German businessman working in the oil industry he met in Volgograd, where Nikolay lived with his parents.

    Today, Davydenko lives in Bedburg, a little town near Dusseldorf, located in a national park, but he’s not a resident “because of the taxes.” He doesn’t reside in Monaco, either. He officially lives in Moscow but does not own a home. “I never go back, except for Davis Cup. I don’t have the time and, besides, what would I do in Russia?” Maybe fish, because that seems to be the only thing he has in common with the great Safin, who is just about his polar opposite. “With Marat, we wanted to get together on a lake near Moscow. But we never found the time.” So Nikolay fishes for trout alone with his wife. “Actually, she catches more fish than me.”

    Davyenko once said. “I never dream. I know that there are some who say that it’s a dream to win this tournament or that tournament. But all that is for the media.” He prefers being himself. And if his peculiar, big-skulled look and his off-the-cuff comments don’t please the smooth operators on the tennis planet, f..k ‘em.

  3. I wouldn’t expect this kind of article with that scandalous picture of Kolya. ^_- but it was pretty funny, I really liked reading it. Thanks for translating it!

  4. That picture makes him look rather sexy in a very odd way and I quite like the fact he is his own person. I like the aloofness and his wife is rather good looking so he must have something going for him.

  5. thank you Stephanie Myles for the translation, very much appreciated

  6. Thank you, Stephanie Myles. The translation is very nice)

    I like what I’ve read. Thre more i find out about Kolya, the more my affection for him is.

  7. i love davy… miss him more n hope he so success in ATP