Paris Masters: David Nalbandian bagels Rafael Nadal

Tennis - In 2007, the Argentine conquered two indoor Masters 1000 crowns in three weeks

by Jovica Ilic
Paris Masters: David Nalbandian bagels Rafael Nadal

After missing the last Masters 1000 tournament in the previous few seasons, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal finally entered the Paris Masters draw in 2007. Federer fell in the third round to David Nalbandian in straight sets.

At the same time, Nadal reached the final on his debut, entering only his second ATP title match on an indoor surface after conquering the 2005 Madrid Masters. Nalbandian and Marcos Baghdatis were unseeded players who did a lot of damage in the draw to reach the semi-final.

Nadal and Nalbandian advanced into the final on November 4, and the Argentine scored a comprehensive 6-4, 6-0 triumph in 70 minutes. Thus, he lifted his second Masters 1000 crown within three weeks after celebrating in Madrid, wrapping up a perfect indoor fall at the Masters 1000 events!

David was above all the rivals under a roof in Madrid and Paris, beating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer twice and toppling Novak Djokovic to complete his fantastic run, leaving the opponents mighty relieved when he failed to reach the Masters Cup!

The 21-year-old Nadal had already won 23 ATP titles. Still, indoor events were never his cup of tea, with Paris standing as only his second indoor ATP final. Nalbandian and Nadal had never played before 2007, and those two encounters in Madrid and Paris came at the perfect moment for an in-form Argentine.

On the other hand, we could not tell the same for Nadal, who won his last title in July on clay. The Spaniard would win the following five clashes they played but was beaten badly by the Argentine in those indoor Masters after winning just seven games!

After that terrible Madrid loss, Nadal had found the solution to challenge David in Paris. Still, he dropped the last nine games and fell against picture-perfect tennis that Nalbandian threw at him. Everything worked well for David, including the serve, movement, ball striking, anticipation and return, leaving Rafa with no proper answer and storming toward the title.

Nalbandian lost seven points in eight service games, winning the last 18 points behind the initial shot and facing no break chances! He grabbed almost half of the points in Nadal's games, taking 13 out of 16 when the Spaniard missed the first serve and gaining the edge in the rallies.

The Argentine delivered a textbook shotmaking to keep the points on his racquet and take time off the Spaniard's strokes. Nadal could not deal with the pace of the opponent's shots. David forced many errors or short balls that he would immediately turn in his favor, mainly with his lethal forehands that left Rafa in ruins.

The Argentine made 20 errors but erased that with many winners, eager to control the rallies and take the ball early to stay aggressive from start to finish.

David Nalbandian defeated Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-0 at the 2007 Paris Masters.

Nalbandian had 11 service winners in comparison to Nadal's seven.

He demolished the Spaniard in the winners from the court department after hitting 19, 14 from his forehand alone, against Rafa's only four! They had a similar number of unforced errors, 10-9 for David. Still, Nadal made 17 forced mistakes while Nalbandian stayed on ten, another evidence of how well the Argentine placed his shots and opened the court.

Rafa tried to impose crosscourt exchanges and mount pressure on the rival's backhand, which did not work either. David made only 11 errors from his backhand wing and forced ten mistakes from Rafa's forehand to take advantage from world no.

2. Nalbandian had a significant lead in the shortest rallies up to four shots thanks to a solid serving and the initial groundstrokes, taking 37 out of 53 points in that range. He was 9-7 up in the mid-range points from five to eight strokes and 11-8 in the most extended rallies to outplay Nadal in virtually every segment and lift the trophy in style.

They kicked off the match strongly, with three service winners for each in the first two games before Nadal held at 1-1 after taking a 14-stroke rally and a smash winner. David was in the zone right from the start and had three winners in game four to level the score at 2-2 before surviving deuce in game six to stay on the positive side.

The Spaniard played well in the longer points in game seven to remain in front. Thus, he already won more games than he did in the entire match in Madrid two weeks ago and seized a 17-stroke rally in the next one to move 30-15 ahead.

David responded with two winners and closed the game with an ace, dealing with a deuce for the second time on serve. Suddenly, Nalbandian became the only player on the court after rattling off the last 18 points in his games.

He pushed Nadal to the limits on the return to win the final nine games of the clash! Rafa sprayed three errors in game nine, and David clinched the first break with a return winner to move 5-4 ahead and serve for the opening set.

He opened it with two longer rallies and closed the set 6-4 in 39 minutes. Rafa got broken at the beginning of the second set after playing without rhythm and momentum. He failed to endure the barrage fire from the other side of the net and gave the serve away after David's volley winner.

Nalbandian increased his lead to 2-0 with three winners, leaving Nadal without a proper answer and looking strong on the court. The third game proved to be the encounter's longest one. Rafa wasted a 40-0 lead to suffer another break and fall deeper and deeper.

Pumped and focused, Nalbandian held at love in game four to increase the lead after a forehand winner and Nadal's three errors. Determined to finish the job in no time, David broke again in game five with two winners and got a chance to serve for the title.

He fired two service winners and sealed the deal with his 14th forehand winner to wrap up an impressive triumph in 70 minutes against powerless Nadal.

Paris Masters David Nalbandian Rafael Nadal