Madrid Flashback: David Nalbandian downs Roger Federer to enter history books

by   |  VIEW 2088

Madrid Flashback: David Nalbandian downs Roger Federer to enter history books

David Nalbandian was world no. 8 at the beginning of the 2007 season, reaching one quarter-final before the second part of October and dropping 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 less than 20 ATP wins, David traveled to Madrid eager to change his form.

The Argentine had lost six of the last 11 encounters before Madrid, changing all that in the Spanish capital to conquer the first Masters 1000 crown! Nalbandian always liked to compete at this indoor event, advancing into the title match in 2004 and reaching the semis in 2005 and 2006.

In that last campaign, Roger Federer toppled him 6-4, 6-0 and Nalbandian was determined to avenge that loss, beating the Swiss 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 49 minutes on October 21, for the first notable title after the Masters Cup 2005 where he ousted Federer in a thriller.

David wrote history in Madrid, prevailing against Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in back-to-back encounters to repeat the achievement of Boris Becker (Stockholm 1994) and Novak Djokovic (Canada 2007) and score wins over all three world's leading players at the same event.

In the quarters, Nalbandian lost just three games versus Rafael Nadal, overpowering Djokovic in the semis and completing a perfect week with that triumph over Roger for the 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, overcoming a slow start to leave the defending champion behind and hold the trophy.

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

Federer had more winners and more unforced errors, having a slight upper hand in the shortest points up to four strokes and allowing 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, and Federer continued where he left 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, repelling it with a service winner but playing against another one when his forehand landed into the net. An ace put Roger away from the danger zone, holding after three deuces to move 4-1 ahead.

Yet to find his shots, the Argentine sprayed a backhand error a few minutes later to offer Federer another break chance, saving it but getting broken on the next thanks to a deep return from Roger, who was now serving for the opener.

Two service winners earned the set for Federer in that seventh game, 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 first game of the second set with a service winner, forced two errors from Roger in the next to grab his first break of the match, improving his position by a mile in only a couple of minutes.

Finding the rhythm, the Argentine hit three service winners in the third game to confirm the advantage 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, closing the game with a volley winner before finding himself in more troubles on serve at 5-3. With no room for errors, the Argentine returned from 30-0 down, finishing the set with an excellent point at the net and gathering a massive boost ahead of the decider.

With momentum on his side, David grabbed a break in the third game of the final set when Roger sent a backhand long, taking the ball early and stepping 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.

Nalbandian held at 15 in the sixth game to stay in front, delivering another comfortable service game at 4-3 and sealing the deal with a volley winner in game nine, breaking Roger for the third time and lifting the first Masters 1000 crown at 25.