Despite winning just a 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 aforementioned season. David lost in the semifinals of the Australian Open, Miami, Rome, Roland Garros, Madrid and the Masters Cup, unable to take that extra step and fight for the title in those events.
David started the next season as world number eight, but did not serve as the top 10 competitor for most of 2007. The Argentine had fewer than 20 victories after the US Open, hoping for a better streak in the closing tournaments of the year and defending a place in the top 30.
Instead, the Argentine found his best tennis to conquer Masters 1000 events indoors in Madrid and Paris, scoring five wins over Federer, Nadal and Djokovic and finishing the season in the elite top 10. With only a quarter-final before Madrid, David returned to the Spanish capital eager to continue where he had left off in previous seasons, contesting the title in 2004 and in the semi-final in the following two editions.
Hungry for more, Nalbandian defeated Tomas Berdych, Juan Martín Del Potro and Rafael Nadal to advance to Madrid's fourth consecutive semifinal, where he faced no. 3, Novak Djokovic, on October 20. A few months earlier, Djokovic won his first clash at the Canadian Masters in straight sets and was unable to repeat that in Madrid after Nalbandian prevailed 6-4, 7-6 in one hour and 45 minutes to set up the title clash against Roger Federer.
The Argentine saved both break opportunities to keep his serve intact and increase the pressure on the other side of the net with five break opportunities on his account. Novak did well to defend four of them, suffering a break in the first set and keeping up with the opponent in the second before falling into the tiebreaker and missing a chance to fight for the third Masters 1000 crown that year.
Craig Tiley on Roger Federer
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley recently spoke about Roger Federer's absence from the 2022 Australian Open. Tiley feels it will be "a while" before Federer returns to action, but reckons the Swiss will follow the action in Melbourne closely since either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal could surpass his Grand Slam tally.
"Well for first, we have been in constant contact with Roger, we are all friends with him and love to see him compete but he's recovering from surgery and he's got a 40-year-old+ body now, takes a bit longer to recover now than 20 years ago for him.
He'll be back at some point," Craig Tiley said. "I think it will be a while before he plays, he did say probably only March or April, so there's maybe other events he's missing," Tiley added. "He will be someone who'll be watching closely whether Novak or Rafa could surpass his 20 Grand Slam titles."