On this day: David Nalbandian edges Djokovic to set Roger Federer clash


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On this day: David Nalbandian edges Djokovic to set Roger Federer clash

Despite winning only one small ATP title in 2006, David Nalbandian spent the entire year in the top-10, backed by the Masters Cup title from 2005 and a couple of significant results during the mentioned campaign. David lost in the semi-final at the Australian Open, Miami, Rome, Roland Garros, Madrid and the Masters Cup, unable to make that extra step and fight for the title at some of those events.

David kicked off the next season as world no. 8 but hadn't played as the competitor from the top-10 in the most of that 2007, leaving the US Open with less than 20 victories under his belt and hoping for a better run in the final tournaments of the year, to at least defend the place in the top-30.

Instead of that, the Argentine found his best tennis to conquer indoor Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Paris, scoring five wins over Federer, Nadal and Djokovic and returning into the top-10 to close the season in the elite group.

With only one quarter-final before Madrid, David returned to the Spanish capital eager to continue where he left in the previous seasons, playing for the title in 2004 and the semi-final in the next two editions. Hungry for more, Nalbandian toppled Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal to advance into the fourth consecutive semi-final where he faced world no.

3 Novak Djokovic on October 20. A few months earlier, Djokovic won their first clash at Canada Masters in straight sets, unable to repeat that in Madrid as Nalbandian prevailed 6-4, 7-6 in an hour and 45 minutes to set the title clash with Roger Federer.

The Argentine saved both break points to keep his serve intact and mount the pressure on the other side of the net with five break chances on his tally. Novak did well to defend four of those, suffering one break in the opening set and staying on the level terms with the opponent in the second before falling in the tie break, missing a chance to fight for the third Masters 1000 crown in his breakthrough season.

David had more winners and fewer errors, imposing his shots against one of the best baseliners in the world and building confidence for the title match against Roger Federer who toppled him in the semi-final a year ago. It was a shaky start for the 20-year-old Serb, fending off a couple of break points in the first game with service winners and bringing the game home to avoid an early setback.

He couldn't repeat that in the third game when David broke at 15 thanks to a forehand error from the youngster who found himself 3-1 down after four winners from Nalbandian in game four. With poor body language and no rhythm at all, Novak had to play against a couple of break chances in game five as well, fending them off with two service winners and securing the game with a volley winner to remain within one break deficit.

That gave him some energy for the next game as well, creating the first break point that David saved with a service winner, landing two more to bring the game home and move 4-2 up. The Argentine fired three winners in the seventh game and closed the first part of the match with three winners in game ten for a 6-4 after 44 minutes, looking for more of the same in the rest o the encounter.

Having to raise his level, Novak started to play better in his service games in set number two, staying on the level terms with David and creating a set point with a forehand down the line winner at 6-5, only to be denied by a strong attack from Nalbandian who made a crucial hold to set up a tie break.

There, the Argentine grabbed a mini-break in the very first point, placing a backhand winner to gain a 4-1 advantage and creating four match points after a double fault from Novak in the eighth point. Nalbandian converted the third with a service winner in the 11th point to advance into the final and set Roger Feder clash.