So who had David Nalbandian winning the Madrid title at the start of the week? Not me, that’s for sure. I doubt anyone did! And if they did, they lied.
Nalbandian, who has spent the better part of the last two years on the back of a milk carton, came from nowhere to win the Madrid Tennis Masters title, beating the top three players – No. 3 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Rafael Nadal and today, World No. 1 Roger Federer in three sets.
Full credit to Nalbandian for playing excellent tennis despite getting blown away by Federer in the first set 61. Nalbandian regrouped and cruised winning the last two sets 63, 63, breaking Federer for a second time in the third set to clinch the title.
David of course does know a thing or two about beating and troubling The Fed, having now defeated the Swiss in seven of 15 career meetings.
And when he’s playing well and he’s interested as he was today, Nalbandian is one of the elite players in my mind. His strokes/serve may not have the greatest of power and he doesn’t have the slimmest of physiques, but his two-handed backhand is among the best, and his intelligence, guile, court sense and ball striking top caliber.
Then again, like with Marat Safin, Nalbandian’s A-game rarely shows up. So why he rose up to such heights this week is anyone’s guess. Ball girl models? I heard the player food was a thumbs up.
This is the same Nalbandian was down a set and 4-1 to Thomas Berdych in the second round earlier in the week and the same guy who had just one quarterfinal appearance in his 15 previous events. Pretty remarkable.
I like watching Nalbandian play so I hope this win can light a spark and get back to playing Top 10 tennis.
As for Federer, looks like he has a little more work to do to secure the year-end No. 1 position. He’ll play Basel next week and then maybe Paris.
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