ATP Finals Flashback: Roger Federer loses epic final to David Nalbandian



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ATP Finals Flashback: Roger Federer loses epic final to David Nalbandian

After a historic 2004 season, Roger Federer was hungry for more in 2005. The Swiss claimed 11 ATP titles like Rafael Nadal and finished with an 81-4 score to confirm world no. 1 status for the second consecutive year. Before the year-ending ATP Finals title match in Shanghai, Roger was on the verge of repeating what John McEnroe did in his glorious 1984 season (82-3).

Still, he fell short after losing to David Nalbandian 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 in four hours and 33 minutes in one of the most thrilling title matches at this event! Roger struggled with an injury, and David won ten games in a row to open up a 4-0 lead in the decider.

However, the Swiss bounced back and stayed competitive until the last point. In the end, Roger lost the deciding tie break - the first at this tournament since 1988 - and broke his impressive 35-win streak that started in June in Halle!

Federer was a player to beat outside clay that season despite competing at only 15 tournaments, sidelined for six weeks before Shanghai due to a right ankle injury. The Swiss overcame a tough Melbourne defeat to Marat Safin and dominated the next ten months.

Still, he could not go all the way in the last-ever ATP Finals title match on an indoor carpet surface. Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin withdrew before or during the event. Federer had sailed through the plagued field before losing to Nalbandian on November 20.

Thus, he missed a chance to become the first player since Ivan Lendl with three consecutive ATP Finals crowns. Federer started to struggle after winning the crucial points in the opening two sets. He received a left thigh treatment after the fourth set's third game, unable to move as he would want in the next 30 minutes.

Still, he recovered, gave the crowd something to cheer about and barely missed a chance to complete an incredible turnaround. Nalbandian grabbed 11 breaks from 15 opportunities, numbers you do not see that often against Roger Federer.

The Argentine fended off 14 out of 20 break chances and crossed the finish line first. There were 386 points, and Roger had more winners from his serve and forehand. David took charge with his backhand and volleys to stay competitive.

The Argentine tamed his shots more efficiently, spraying around 20 unforced errors fewer than the Swiss, another element that delivered the title for him in the end. Nalbandian stayed in touch with Federer in the shortest points.

It was essential, and he had a clear advantage in the mid-range and most extended rallies. David moved his rival around the court with well-placed groundstrokes and constructed the points to take the rhythm away from Federer.

The outsider opened the clash with a break, forcing Roger's error with a backhand down the line to gain early momentum.

David Nalbandian won the 2005 ATP Finals crown over Roger Federer in a thriller.

The Swiss pulled the break back in the next game and moved 4-2 up after a fantastic forehand crosscourt winner in game six.

He lost the advantage in the next one after Nalbandian's drop shot winner, who erased the deficit to stay in touch. Serving to prolong the set at 5-6, David brought the game home with a backhand winner to set up a tie break.

Roger won it 7-4 after a lucky net cord return winner, moving ahead in just under an hour. Nalbandian was the first to make a bad move in set number two. He sprayed a forehand error at 2-2 to push Roger ahead and wasted a break chance in the next game to find himself 4-2 down.

Federer played a terrible service game at 4-3, hitting one loose shot after another to get broken. He squandered two break chances in game 11 and served to stay in the set at 5-6. Roger did that with a perfect drop shot to introduce another tie break.

World no. 1 saved three set points and stole it 13-11 to forge a massive advantage, using the fact that Nalbandian got robbed while leading 5-3. David was there to compete after making a fresh start in the third set. The Argentine earned an early break and clinched another at 4-2 to extend the advantage.

In one of the longest games of the match, David saved three break points in game eight. Thus, he secured the set 6-2 and kept his chances alive against the rival who had struggled in the last half an hour. Nalbandian was the only player on the court in the fourth set, winning six straight games to wrap it up in just over 30 minutes and force a decider.

The Argentine played in the same style in set number five to open up a 4-0 lead after rattling off ten straight games, controlling the pace and putting one hand on the trophy! Facing defeat, Federer found a way to get back on the scoreboard.

The Swiss fired a forehand down the line winner and reduced the deficit to 4-3. Also, he grabbed what could have been a crucial break chance in the 11th game. Roger converted it to open a 6-5 lead and come just a game away from the title.

However, it was not to be for him after losing serve in the next one following Nalbandian's backhand down the line winner. The Argentine had the advantage ahead of the tie break and claimed it 7-3 after Federer's forehand error.

Thus, David lifted the most notable title of his career and became the second Argentine with the ATP Finals crown after Guillermo Vilas 31 years ago. Also, he is the last champion of this event in the best-of-five final and on the carpet surface.