Madrid Flashback: David Nalbandian beats Roger Federer and writes history

Tennis - Nalbandian defeated Nadal, Djokovic and Federer in back-to-back matches in 2007

by Jovica Ilic
Madrid Flashback: David Nalbandian beats Roger Federer and writes history

David Nalbandian was world no. 8 at the beginning of the 2007 season following notable results in the previous year. Still, the Argentine reached only one quarter-final before the second part of October and dropped out from the top-20 after Roland Garros.

Failing to advance into a Major quarter-final for the first time in six years and earning under 20 ATP wins, David traveled to Madrid eager to improve his form. The Argentine had lost six of the last 11 encounters before Madrid, changing all that in the Spanish capital to conquer his first Masters 1000 crown!

Nalbandian always liked to compete at this indoor event, advancing into the title match in 2004 and reaching the semi-final in 2005 and 2006. In that last campaign, Roger Federer toppled him 6-4, 6-0. Nalbandian was determined to avenge that loss in 2007, beating the Swiss 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 49 minutes.

It was his first notable title after the 2005 Masters Cup, where he ousted Federer in a thriller. David wrote history in Madrid after prevailing against Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in back-to-back encounters.

Thus, he repeated the achievement of Boris Becker (Stockholm 1994) and Novak Djokovic (Canada 2007) and scored wins over all three world's leading players at the same event. Nalbandian lost just three games versus Rafael Nadal in the quarter-final.

He overpowered Djokovic in the semi-final and completed a perfect week with that triumph over Roger for his sixth victory against a great rival in 14 encounters, the first since that marathon in Shanghai 2005. It was a mighty close encounter, with both winning 78 points and facing five break chances.

Nalbandian fended off three of those and grabbed three breaks to cross the finish line first. He overcame a slow start and left the defending champion behind to hold the trophy.

David Nalbandian defeated Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in Madrid 2007.

Federer had more winners and unforced errors, with a slight upper hand in the shortest points up to four strokes.

He allowed David to forge the exact one in the mid-range and more extended rallies that kept him in contention. It was the first Madrid final in the best-of-three format. Federer continued where he left off against another South American, Fernando Gonzalez, a year ago, earning a break in the fourth game when Nalbandian netted an easy forehand.

The Swiss hit a double fault in the next one to face a break point. He repelled it with a service winner but playing against another when his forehand landed into the net. An ace put Roger away from the danger zone, and he held after three deuces to move 4-1 ahead.

The Argentine was yet to find his strokes, spraying a backhand error a few minutes later to offer Federer another break chance. David saved it before getting broken on the next one thanks to Roger's deep return. Two service winners in the seventh game earned the set for Federer, moving 6-1 in front after half an hour and looking good to wrap up another Madrid crown in style.

Starting all over, David held in the second set's first game with a service winner. He forced two errors from Roger in the next to grab his first break of the match and improve his position by a mile within a couple of minutes.

Finding the rhythm, the Argentine hit three service winners in the third game before Roger blasted a return winner at 2-4 to create a break chance that could have sent him closer to the finish line. Staying calm, David erased it with a service winner and did the same with the second.

He closed the game with a volley winner before finding himself in more trouble on serve at 5-3. With no room for errors, the Argentine returned from 30-0 down and finished the set with an excellent point at the net to gather a massive boost ahead of the decider.

With momentum on his side, David grabbed a break in the final set's third game when Roger sent a backhand long. Nalbandian took the ball early and stepped in to take the time away from Federer's shots, a tactic that worked like a charm in those moments as he opened a 3-1 gap.

David held at 15 in the sixth game to stay in front and delivered another comfortable service game at 4-3. He sealed the deal with a volley winner at 5-3, breaking Roger for the third time and lifting his first Masters 1000 crown at 25.

David Nalbandian Roger Federer