Well, that final was convincing, wasn’t it? David Nalbandian hammered World No. 2 Rafael Nadal 64 60 to win the Paris Tennis Masters title, his second consecutive Masters victory following his Madrid triumph over Roger Federer two weeks ago.
With his wonderful backhand, excellent return of serve and stroke variety, Nalbandian matches up quite well against Nadal, but I admit I had still picked the winner in this one to be the Spaniard, who had never lost in Paris (I don’t think!) and only suffered defeat in a tour final to someone not named Federer on one occasion, that being Dominik Hrbaty in the Auckland final. He also had revenge on his mind after winning just three games against Nalby in Madrid.
Yet Nalbandian was never troubled today by Nadal, who really struggled to win anything on his second serve (won just 18% of second serves) and really look lost tactically as to what to do against the Argentine. I don’t even think he ever got a look at a break point.
On the slow Paris indoor court, Nalbandian hardly missed, munched on Nadal’s second offerings and when perched on the baseline was able to make Rafa move like a yo-yo.
Nalby closed the match winning the last nine games by my count for his second straight Masters win.
This of course coming from a guy labeled by many as fat (ok, so he’s no stick like Juan Chela) and who had reached one quarterfinal all year entering Madrid, where he was also down a set and break to Thomas Berdych. Nalbandian recovered against the Czech, and went on to beat Nadal, Novak Djokovic and then Federer in the final. And now he’s destroyed the Paris field.
Quite a turn around for a guy who’s been MIA from the ATP circuit much of the last two years.
What’s intriguing about Nalbandian’s revival just where he’ll fit into the Top 10 mix in 2008. Remember, the Argy’s been to all four Slam semifinals was a Wimbledon finalist. He’s been in the Top 5 before. He’s also won four straight sets over both Federer and Nadal so he’s got nothing to be afraid when facing them.
But as I’ve said before, Nalbandian’s hot streak could not have come at a worse time with the match/tournament marking the end of the 2007 season and the start of a two-month vacation, provided Andy Roddick and Nikolay Davydenko do show in Shanghai. What Nalbandian’s mercurial attitude toward tennis will be during the holidays is anyone’s guess. What’s not a guess is that the guy is among the game’s elite when he’s on.
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