ATP ANALYSIS: David Nalbandian dispatches Rafael Nadal to win Paris Masters

by   |  VIEW 4171
ATP ANALYSIS: David Nalbandian dispatches Rafael Nadal to win Paris Masters

On November 4, 2007, Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian have met in the final of the last Masters 1000 tournament in Paris and the Argentine scored a comprehensive 6-4 6-0 triumph in 70 minutes to win his second Masters 1000 crown in 3 weeks! It was a rather strange season for Nalbandian, a talented but not so much hard-working player, reaching only 1 quarter-final in the first 9 and a half months of the year, only to show his full potential in the last 2 Masters 1000 events of the season, winning them both to end the season on a high note.

David was above all the rivals under the roof of Madrid and Paris, beating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer twice, and also toppling Novak Djokovic to roundup his amazing run, leaving his rivals mighty releaved that he failed to reach the Masters Cup! Paris was his 4th indoor crown, previously conquering Basel in 2002, Masters Cup in 2005 and Madrid 2 weeks earlier.

21-year-old Nadal has already won 23 ATP titles but indoor events were never his cup of tea, and Paris was only his second indoor ATP final he played after he went all the way in Madrid 2 years earlier. They never played before 2007 and these two matches in Madrid and Paris came in the perfect moment for Nalbandian, who was in a great form, which we can't tell for Nadal, who won his last title in July on clay.

Spaniard would win the next 5 encounters they played but he was beaten badly by the Argentine in these indoor Masters, winning just 7 games overall! After that terrible loss he suffered in Madrid, it seemed that Nadal found the solution to at least challenge David in Paris, but he lost the last 9 games of the match, unable to do anything against the picture perfect tennis that the Argentine throw at him.

Everything worked well for Nalbandian, from the serve, movement, ball striking, anticipation, to the return, leaving Rafa with no proper answer. David lost just 7 points in 8 return games (he won the last 18 points on his serve), facing no break points (Nadal reached 2 deuces on the return in games 6 and 8 before he faded from the court), and he was in his own league on the return as well.

He grabbed almost 50% of the points in Nadal's games, taking 13 out of 16 points when Spaniard went on to miss the first serve, and that gave him the edge in the rallies and on the scoreboard. He delivered some textbook shotmaking to keep the points on his racquet and take the time off Nadal's shots, who couldn't impose his rhythm and crumble the rival with his deep and accurate groundstrokes that would keep Nalbandian off balanced and out of the position to attack.

Instead of that, Rafa was the one who failed to deal with the pace of opponent's shots, as David forced a lot of errors or short balls that he immediately turned into his favor, mainly with his lethal forehands that left Nadal in ruins.

The Argentine made 20 errors but he erased that with the number of winners, eager to not let Nadal controlling the rallies, and he was taking the ball early to stay aggressive from start to finish. The movement was never his strong side, as he wasn't always physically fit for the endeavors that modern tennis requires, but he covered the court nicely in this one, using his slice forehand to reach the most of the balls and force Rafa to play an additional shot.

Nalbandian had 11 service winners compared to 7 from Nadal and he demolished the Spaniard in the winners from the court, hitting 19 (14 from his forehand alone) against only 4 for Rafa, which gives us a clear picture about how things developed in this match.

They had a similar number of unforced errors (10-9 for David) but the Spaniard made no less than 17 forced errors while Nalbandian stayed on 10, and this is another proof how well the Argentine placed his shots and opened the court.

Nadal tried to impose cross court exchanges and to put the pressure on rival's backhand but that didn't work either, as David made only 11 errors from his backhand wing, forcing 10 errors from Nadal's forehand to take away the advantage from the world number 2.

David had a great advantage in the shortest rallies up to 4 shots, thanks to a good serving and the initial groundstrokes that made a lot of damage, taking 37 out of the 53 points in that range. He was 9-7 up in the mid-range points from 5 to 8 strokes, and also 11-8 in the longest rallies to outplay Nadal in virtually every segment and lift the title in style.

They both kicked off the match in strong fashion, with 3 service winners for each in the first two games, and Nadal held in game 3 after winning a 14-stroke rally and blasting a smash winner. David was in the zone right from the start and he had 3 winners in game 4 to level the score at 2-2.

The first deuce came in game 6, Nalbandian stayed in front with 3 forehand winners right after the serve but Nadal stayed in the game, only to make 2 backhand errors and miss a chance to create a break point. Spaniard played well in the longer points in game 7 to stay in front, already taking more games than he did in the entire match in Madrid 2 weeks ago, and he grabbed a 17-stroke rally in the next game to move 30-15 in front.

David came back with 2 winners and he closed the game with an ace, having to deal with a deuce for the second time in a row in his games. Out of sudden, the Argentine was the only player on the court, as he taken the last 18 points in his games and pushing Nadal to the limits on the return to win the last 9 games of the match! In the 9th game, Nadal missed 3 shots and David clinched the first break with a return winner, moving 5-4 ahead and serving for the opening set.

He opened it with 2 longer points and Nadal made a forced error in the last point, with Nalbandian taking the opener by 6-4 in 39 minutes. The Argentine was more aggressive and determined player, keeping the points on his racquet and punishing every second serve of his rival to earn that lone break that brought him the set.

He had an 8-5 advantage in service winners and even bigger 9-4 in the direct points from the field, dominating with his forehand. Rafa made too many errors in the last 2 games and he finished the set with 7 unforced mistakes, 1 more than his rival, who committed 9 forced errors compared to 7 from Nadal, which couldn't change the course of the set.

Out of rhythm and momentum, Rafa got broken at the start of the second set as well, unable to endure the barrage fire from his rival, who closed the game with a volley winner for an early lead. Nalbandian increased his lead to 2-0 with 3 winners, again leaving Nadal without a proper answer.

The third game proved to be the longest of the match and Rafa wasted a 40-0 lead to lose serve again, falling deeper and deeper and reducing the possibility to make a turnaround. David climbed back into the game with 2 winners and he converted the second break point after Nadal's double fault, the only we saw in the match.

Pumped and focused, David held at love in game 4 to increase his lead to 4-0 after a forehand winner and 3 errors from Nadal, who was just an observer now. David was determined to end the match in the shortest possible time and he broke again in game 5 with 2 winners, getting a chance to serve for the title in the 6th game.

He fired 2 service winners and sealed the deal with his 14th forehand winner to wrap up an impressive triumph in just 70 minutes against powerless Nadal who could only congratulate his rival for this amazing level that he produced.

Serve didn't give them much, with 3 service winners for David and 2 for Nadal, but the Argentine once again stood way above Nadal in the field efficiency, landing 10 winners and leaving Nadal on ground zero, which is a rare scene in Spaniard's matches, even on the indoor surface.

It was 4-2 for Nalbandian in unforced errors, an effective number considering how many winners he cracked, and he proved his domination in the exchanges by forcing 10 errors from Nadal, staying on just 1 on the other hand.

Point by point result and the number of shots in the rallies:


ALSO READ: ATP ANALYSIS: Roger Federer polish off Goffin after a peerless performance