Madrid Flashback: David Nalbandian downs Novak Djokovic

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Madrid Flashback: David Nalbandian downs Novak Djokovic
Madrid Flashback: David Nalbandian downs Novak Djokovic

Despite winning only one small ATP title in 2006, David Nalbandian spent the entire year in the top-10, backed by the 2005 Masters Cup title and a couple of significant results during the mentioned season. 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 notable titles in 2006.

David kicked off the next season as world no. 8 but did not perform as the top-10 competitor for most of the year. The Argentine had under 20 wins after the US Open and hoped for a better run in the season's final tournaments.

Instead of chasing a year-end top-30 place, the Argentine found his best tennis to conquer indoor Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Paris. Nalbandian scored five wins over Federer, Nadal and Djokovic and returned into the top-10 to wrap up the year 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 following two editions. Hungry for more, Nalbandian toppled Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal to advance into his fourth consecutive Madrid semi-final.

The Argentine faced Novak Djokovic on October 20 and scored a 6-4, 7-6 victory in an hour and 45 minutes to advance into the title clash against Roger Federer. David saved both break points to keep his serve intact and mount the pressure on the other side 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 level terms with the opponent in the second before falling in the tie break. Thus, the young Serb missed a chance to fight for the third Masters 1000 crown in his breakthrough season.

David Nalbandian defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2007 Madrid semi-final.

David had more winners and fewer errors, imposing his shots against one of the world's best baseliners and building confidence for the title match against the rival who toppled him in the semi-final a year ago.

It was a shaky start for the 20-year-old Serb. He fended off a couple of break chances in the encounter's first game with service winners and brought it home to avoid an early setback. He could not repeat that in the third game when David broke at 15 thanks to a forehand error from the youngster.

Nalbandian hit four winners in the fourth game to open a 3-1 gap and settle into a fine rhythm. With poor body language and no pace, Novak had to play against several break chances in game five. He fended them off with two service winners and brought it home with a volley winner to remain within one break deficit.

That gave him some energy for the next game, creating the first break point. David saved it with a service winner and landed two more to clinch the game home and move 4-2 up. The Argentine fired three winners in the eighth game and closed the first part of the match with three winners in game ten for 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. He stayed on level terms with David and created a set point with a forehand down the line winner at 6-5. Nalbandian denied it with a strong attack and made a crucial hold to set up a tie break.

The Argentine grabbed a mini-break in the first point and placed a backhand winner to gain a 4-1 advantage. The Serb hit a double fault in the eighth point and faced four match points. David converted the third with a service winner at 6-4 to advance into the final and set Roger Federer clash.

David Nalbandian Novak Djokovic Roger Federer

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